Police investigate possible case of driver fatigue after fuel tanker rolls

Highway Patrol is investigating a case of possible driver fatigue after a B-double fuel tanker carrying 45,000 litres of diesel fuel rolled over at Deep Lead on Tuesday morning. 

The incident caused emergency services to shut the Western Highway in both directions from 8am until 8.30pm

District 16 CFA operations officer Neville Collins said a “considerable amount” of diesel spilled onto the road.

“The diesel has travelled approximately 500-700m down the Western Freeway and crews were working hard to contain the leak,” he said. 

The driver of the truck was uninjured, but was transported to hospital by Ambulance Victoria for observation.

Stawell Sergeant Bill Alford said the incident may have been an outcome of fatigue and warned motorists to always be vigilant. 

“The driver here is very lucky- 45,000 litres of fuel is a lot of weight and luckily no other vehicle was involved,” he said. 

“The tanker nearly ran off the road and into a storm drain.

“Professional drivers have to be aware of how they are feeling- if you are fatigued you have to drive to that level of fatigue and manage yourself.”

Sergeant Alford said EPA attended the scene and advised emergency services on how to clear 300 metres of drain, full of the spilled fuel.

“The drain was filled with sand and dirt to soak up the fuel, and was then dug back up again,” he said. 

“The clean-up bill would have been quite hefty.”

Up to 11 CFA vehicles from Stawell, Halls Gap, Glenorchy, Dadswells Bridge, Ararat, Corio and Ballarat City attended.

Specialist HAZMAT vehicles from Corio and Ballarat City were also at the scene. 

Drivers travelling between Horsham and Stawell were forced to commute to their destinations along the back roads surrounding the closed section of the Western Highway. 

VicRoads advised motorists travelling in the area to use the detour via Donald-Stawell Road, Wimmera Highway and the Henty Highway between Stawell and Horsham. 

Highway Patrol officers also responded to a head-on collision at Campbells Bridge Road, between Glenorchy and Campbells Bridge about 3pm on Tuesday afternoon. 

The road was being used as part of a detour route after the fuel tanker rolled on the Western Highway on Tuesday morning, causing a section of the major thoroughfare to be shut in both directions.

Stawell Sergeant Bill Alford said the two vehicles involved experienced extensive damage, but there were minimal injuries to the drivers.

“There was already a lot of chaos going on, so luckily it was not serious,” he said. 

Highway Patrol is investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident.  

A motorist in the area who wished to remain anonymous first heard about the incident over UHF radio and described the scene as “madness”. 

“It’s a narrow road- you have got this secondary road trying to hold mainstream traffic and it’s mad,” the driver said. 

“There were B-doubles passing each other and going off the road to let others through.

“There was dust and traffic everywhere.”