Truck's faulty brakes contributed to fatal crash: coroner
FLAWED record keeping has been found to be a contributing factor in the road death of Dalby father Scott Bennett in 2012.
State Deputy Coroner John Lock delivered a scathing assessment of Toowoomba-based trucking company St George Freightlines' approach to maintenance standards, labelling them "appalling".
Dalby father-of-one Mr Bennett had been travelling west on the Warrego Hwy with his wife Patricia on January 25, 2012, when his four-wheel drive was slammed into by the road train.
The truck driver, Gary McGrath, had slammed on the brakes in an attempt to avoid the collision, which caused the truck to jackknife and slam into the passenger side of the four-wheel drive.
Mr Bennett was killed instantly and his wife was seriously injured.
Mr Lock, in handing down his findings following the lengthy inquest, said mechanical inspections of the St George Freightlines prime mover and attached road train trailers had revealed "seriously defective" brakes.
"The appalling nature of the record keeping for the maintenance and servicing of these units is simply consistent with the largely haphazard approach of the family group to quality assurance," Mr Lock said.
St George Freightlines is run out of Toowoomba and is owned by the Loughlin family.
"When Mr Bennett and his wife saw the jackknife ahead of them, they were experiencing a nightmare no one would want to face," Mr Lock said.
"Mr Bennett had no opportunity to take evasive action."
Mr Lock said the road surface - slick from rain earlier on the day of the fatal crash - as well as the intersection configuration also played a significant role in the incident.
"Certainly the intersection configuration, combined with the slippery surface and wet road, played a significant role," he said.
Mr Lock said Mr McGrath's lack of experience with jackknife incidents, and unawareness that low weight loads in the road train, also contributed to Mr Bennett's death.
"I also find a significant factor was the dangerous condition of the brakes of each unit and in totality as a road train.
"It is not a coincidence that this fatal incident involved jackknifing, which can only occur in braking conditions, and involved a road train unit that had seriously defective and reduced-efficiency brakes.
"That such units were, and likely still are, being driven on our roads is extraordinary and in my view is evidence of a lack of maintenance and servicing on the part of the various Loughlin Family entities that were responsible for such servicing.
"I am left with the impression, the family group have not learned anything from this tragic event nor have they taken steps to examine, audit or improve the quality assurance of the servicing and maintenance of its trucks and trailers."