A truck driver tested positive to methamphetamine barely two hours into a WA Police heavy vehicle blitz yesterday which uncovered a litany of road dangers including bald tyres and unsecured loads.

The man was charged with driving with a prescribed illicit drug after he failed two saliva drug tests on the first morning of the traffic operation on Great Northern Highway, Upper Swan.

Police and officers from the Department of Transport, Main Roads, ComCare and WorkSafe combed hundreds of vehicles on the well-used truck route as part of the national Operation Astrans, which will be held daily at different locations around WA this month.

In the first 3½ hours of the blitz yesterday, department officers issued 18 work orders and deemed several trucks unroadworthy.

They included a vehicle with deep cracks along the chassis, a truck with balding tyres despite the wet weather, several vehicles with leaking brakes, a prime mover with unreadable registration plates and missing door handles, and a truck carrying a load held in place solely by a canopy.

WorkSafe is also investigating 16 truck drivers to check they had sufficient supplies and communications equipment for their journeys.

Traffic police Insp. Ian Clarke said drug usage was seen as a “challenge” in the trucking industry, in particular with methamphetamine, which officers encountered most commonly and could result in serious or fatal crashes.

“Of great concern at any time is when a truck or a heavy vehicle comes unstuck. Generally when they do crash it’s catastrophic and could mean, tragically, the death of the driver and anyone else,” Insp. Clarke said.

“We’re talking about a significant weight and when it comes unstuck, it comes unstuck very badly.”

Main Roads’ heavy vehicle compliance manager Paul Bond said overloaded trucks could damage road surfaces and oil leaks particularly could cause a hazard, especially for motorcyclists.

He said it could be extremely dangerous, especially on a wet road surface, not to have a vehicle in top condition.

“It is dangerous. It does take longer to stop,” Mr Bond said.

The operation comes after a serious tanker crash in NSW in 2013 when 18,000 litres of fuel leaked and caught fire, killing two people and injuring five.

Extracted in full from The West Australian.