I NOTE with interest the call for safety checks for large cranes after the tragic deaths of Barry Copeland's wife and children in a crash on the A92 near St Cyrus in 2008 ("MOT call backed by bereaved father and husband", The Herald, December 12).

I fully support this request.

This was not the first fatality involving such a piece of equipment and I fear it will not be the last. There was a similar incident on the A82 Fort William road in recent years involving a large crane normally used for timber handling and extraction in local forests.

Loading article content

This vehicle was being moved between jobs and collided with a private car, killing one of the occupants. This machine was, to all intents and purposes, a truck chassis with a crane fitted to it. Due to its primary function being declared as that of a crane, it was exempt from the Annual Test, the equivalent of an MOT for HGVs. Had it still been a goods-carrying vehicle it would have been due testing. The evidence given in court indicated that the brakes were seriously defective and proper routine maintenance would have detected this, thus avoiding the fatality.

I believe a main reason for the exemption from testing still being in force is that the Government test stations would struggle to accommodate some of the larger cranes and other equipment. It is long past time that the question of exemptions for such as these and farm tractors, trailers and associated equipment was re-assessed.

The days of farm tractors being slow movers are long gone with fast tractors capable of high speeds. But the brake systems on the towed equipment are not up to the same speeds. I attended numerous serious collisions involving such machinery, examined them, gave statements and evidence and came to the conclusion that a major review of the rules and exemptions was long overdue.

At the very least a mandatory system of routine inspection and recorded resulting repairs should be instituted. This could be checked by the insurance company and be available for enforcement authorities to monitor as required.

I speak with the benefit of some 22 years' experience as a VOSA/VI Examiner. Our roads are becoming more and more crowded with vehicles at ever-higher speeds. Exemptions granted many years ago are no longer appropriate.

Allan Martin, Croft Croy, Farr, Inverness-shire.