Former Waka Kotahi heavy vehicle engineer censured and fined for trailer incident

In News2 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJuly 1, 2021

A former heavy vehicle specialist certifier working for Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has been found to have acted negligently following an investigation by Engineering New Zealand.

The investigation found former Chartered Professional Engineer Peter Wastney designed and certified a towing connection that was not fit for purpose. A Disciplinary Committee ordered Wastney be censured, pay a fine and contribute towards the costs of the investigation, for a total of $8260.

In August 2017, a failed towing connection resulted in a trailer separating from a truck while it was travelling at speed along the Kohatu-Kawatiri Highway to Nelson. No one was hurt in the incident.

At the time of the incident, Wastney was a heavy vehicle specialist certifier for Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.

The investigation found that the failure occurred due to metal fatigue because the design and construction of the towing connections was deficient. As such, the towing connections did not meet the required New Zealand Standard for heavy vehicle towing connections – drawbeams and drawbars, and should not have been certified.

Wastney accepted the towing connection was not fit for purpose but provided no satisfactory explanation as to how and why these errors occurred.

The committee found Mr Wastney had breached the Code of Ethical Conduct to the extent he acted negligently. It said his departure from the standards expected of a Chartered Professional Engineer was “at the higher end of the scale”.

It supported the investigation’s findings that “a high level of trust is placed in HVSCs by Waka Kotahi and the public to ensure heavy vehicles do not present undue risk on the road.”

Wastney was suspended as a Chartered Professional Engineer in May 2019 and later removed from the register, after failing to apply for continued registration.