Last year's 'Load Restraint Education Project' was announced as the winner of the Local Government Excellence in Road Safety Award at a gala dinner at Parliament House in Canberra last week.

The awards are presented each year by IPWEA NSW & ACT (the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia) and aim to endorse and recognise excellence of Local Government and public works projects. This year there were more than 100 nominations across the eight categories.

The 'Load Restraint Education Project' was spearheaded by Parkes, Forbes and Lachlan Shire Councils' Road Safety and Injury Prevention Officer, Melanie Suitor, who accepted the award on behalf of the Project Team.

"The project saw load restraint knowledge increase, breaches decrease by almost 70% and there were no load restraint incidents recorded on our local roads during 2021.

"The project was a team-effort, we worked collaboratively with NSW Police, NSW Farmers and Transport for NSW to plan, implement, monitor and evaluate the project. Thanks to all of the members of the Project Steering Committee for your support and hard-work.

"Thanks also to the Australian Federal Government, who funded the project through the Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative which is administered by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR). We could not have conducted this project if we didn't receive the grant funding," Ms Suitor said.

The project involved a pre and post online awareness quiz, how to videos and accompanying fact sheets, local case studies and the Load Restraint Village Tour. It focused on the safe transportation of hay bales, machinery and general freight.

NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto congratulated Parkes, Forbes and Lachlan Shire Councils on delivering such a valuable project for the heavy vehicle industry.

“It’s fantastic to see the 'Load Restraint Education Project' receive recognition for improving safety across the heavy vehicle industry and for all road users," Mr Petroccitto said.

NSW Farmers Regional Services Manager, Catriona McAuliffe, said that the project extended what is already a very good working relationship between all project partners.

"By developing the videos and other resources, and then taking those out to the 12 villages across the three shires we were able to access more farmers at times and locations that were more suited to them.

'We were able to show how vital good quality restraints and their appropriate use are for the safety of our produce and equipment, the drivers of the vehicles, and the road users that we share the roads with," Ms McAuliffe said.

Parkes Highway Patrol Sergeant Martin Ling said that collaborating with the other project partners meant that the team were able to use the expertise of all the agencies to arm motorists with the right information - making their lives easier and the lives of road users safer.

"Being on the road everyday meant we were able to see the improvements in compliance with load restraints on heavy vehicles and the reduction in incidents caused by insufficiently restrained loads. Also, to know that we were able to educate a large number of people on safe and proper load restraints meant that they had less chance of being fined or having to go to Court," Sergeant Ling said.

Transport for NSW Director West Alistair Lunn said the Local Government Road Safety program has been operating for 30 years in NSW and Transport for NSW fully supports the road safety collaboration work this underpins.

“Transport for NSW works closely with council Road Safety Officers to achieve a diverse range of road safety outcomes across NSW. We are proud to work with councils on collaborative heavy vehicle safety and load restraint initiatives to achieve the best safety outcomes," Mr Lunn said.