The National Transport Commission (NTC) and National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) have proclaimed a road safety milestone with amendments to Chain of Responsibility (CoR) duties in the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL), which took effect 1 October.
NTC Acting Chief Executive Dr Geoff Allan said these reforms, developed by NTC over several years of close consultation with industry and government, respond to calls to improve the safety and productivity of road transport operations.
“The priority was to create greater clarity and consistency of CoR laws while reinforcing that all parties who influence heavy vehicle safety must act responsibly,” said Allan.
“Operators, consignors, consignees and loading managers all have a role to help ensure road users get home safely at the end of each day.
“The reforms remove prescriptive obligations, providing greater flexibility for industry in how they achieve safety outcomes. They also encourage parties in the chain to be proactive in managing risks. This performance-based approach to regulation will underpin our upcoming review of the HVNL,” he said.
According to NHVR Chief Executive Officer Sal Petroccitto, the NHVR has been working with many of the 165,000 businesses across the heavy vehicle supply chain to prepare for these important changes.
“These reforms recognise that every party in the heavy vehicle transport supply chain has a duty to ensure safety,” said Petroccitto.
“The best way to do this is to have safety management systems and controls in place, such as business practices, training and procedures.”
Included in HVNL changes are the loading performance standards, which have been transferred from the Load Restraint Guide for heavy vehicles into the HVNL. The Load Restraint Guide will continue to provide guidance on appropriate methods for restraining loads.
The NTC completed the review and update of the latest Load Restraint Guide in 2017 and will hand over future maintenance of the guide to the NHVR.
Meanwhile, the National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) has welcomed the changes while adding that more still needs to be done.
“The changes include significant increases in penalties – up to $3 million or five-years imprisonment – for offences that directly or indirectly cause or encourage the driver of a heavy vehicle or another person to contravene the HVNL, or the driver to exceed a speed limit,” said Warren Clark, CEO of NatRoad. “The reform is welcome, but we believe it needs to go further because it is currently limited to specific parties.
“NatRoad has put a proposal to Government and the Opposition that the HVNL should be expanded to make all parties in the supply chain more responsible for what happens on-road, including those who currently escape liability such as digital platforms.
“We will also look critically at the way the new enforcement regime is applied. Parties must know that enforcement up the chain is likely, and therefore regulators must allocate enough resources to this element of the law. Truck drivers should also be able to report breaches of regulations which impact on their safety without adverse consequences.
“We support the recent introduction of a confidential telephone service by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator for participants in the heavy vehicle industry and supply chain to report operational safety issues relating to heavy vehicle transport activities,” said Clark.
“Information on the strengthened laws has been prepared for members and others. We have a CoR handbook, toolkit and webinar series on the NatRoad website which we hope will reinforce the safety enhancement effects of the new CoR laws.”