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Know the height or pay the price

In late June 2023 the NSW Government established a taskforce responsible for reducing the number of overheight heavy vehicle incidents in Sydney’s road tunnel network. Led by Transport for NSW (TfNSW), the taskforce brings together representatives from NSW Police, the NHVR, Road Freight NSW and the Transport Workers’ Union to drive strategies to reduce overheight breaches, educate heavy vehicle drivers on load and route management, and improve operational responses to get traffic moving when incidents do occur.

Moreover, the NSW Government recently approved the deployment of $5 million in infrastructure upgrades, which will include moving sensors further back along the Warringah Freeway to ensure heavy vehicle drivers can take earlier evasive action to avoid blocking traffic at the Harbour Tunnel portal.

The overheight truck Taskforce will consider surveillance and other technologies that could be further deployed to detect heavy vehicles from getting close to tunnel portals before being stopped.

TfNSW and NHVR deal

At the same time as setting up the Taskforce a deal was struck with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) that allows TfNSW to pursue more offenders and remove vehicles from the road for up to 6 months via registration suspensions.

Zero Tolerance

Since Friday 14 July, 6 companies and 1 owner-operator whose vehicles breached height clearance rules and stopped traffic have been served with registration suspensions, part of the Government’s zero-tolerance approach to overheight incidents.

Minister for Roads John Graham said:

“The message to those who own and operate trucks is if you do not plan properly and your drivers find themselves overheight and being backed into a slip lane then there are severe consequences for your business - not just the individual driver’s license and bank account.

Registration suspensions are one way to ensure we see fewer cases in which Sydney traffic is brought to its knees. We have also formed the Overheight Truck Taskforce, bringing together NSW Police, the freight industry, Transport and the Transport Workers’ Union to formulate new strategies to address this persistent problem.”

June Incidents

On 2 June an articulated flatbed carrying paper bales closed traffic on 2 southbound lanes of the Warringah Freeway near the entrance to the Sydney Harbour Tunnel for 19 minutes. The vehicle was measured as 4.42 metres which is above the allowable height of 4.3 metres and 

will have its registration suspended for 6 months.


On 13 June at the Cooks River Tunnel in which an eastbound truck was stopped at the airport tunnel. The driver pulled into the breakdown bay and did not affect traffic or damage infrastructure. This incident has been assessed as not meeting the criteria as  “aggravated” and will not lead to a loss of registration.

On 16 June a truck became stuck in the northbound entrance to the Cooks River (Sydney Airport) Tunnel. The vehicle hit sprinklers, activating a deluge system and was later measured as 4.7 meters which is above the maximum 4.4 meters clearance of the tunnel. A northbound lane had to be closed and traffic held in both directions while the truck was taken out of the tunnel. The company has been issued with a suspension notice.

On 29 June when a vehicle fitted with a self-loading container arm hit the physical barrier ahead of the Cooks River Tunnel before the driver lowered the arm inside the tunnel and proceeded to a breakdown bay on the M5, disrupting traffic. The vehicle has also had the registration suspended.

Because not all breaches are "REAL"

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