The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator will release a range of guidance and support tools in the coming months to assist heavy vehicle operators to improve safety and also help them meet new Chain of Responsibility laws. The push for improvements in road safety comes amid a spate of recent fatal incidents involving trucks and buses.
NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto said the number of heavy vehicle fatalities across Australia had declined in recent years, but that the toll was still too high and wanted to see the downward trend continue.
During the 12 months to the end of September 2017, 216 people died from 197 fatal crashes involving heavy trucks or buses. The 216 fatalities included 121 deaths from 105 crashes involving articulated trucks, 81 deaths from 76 crashes involving heavy rigid trucks, and 29 deaths from 27 crashes involving buses.
Mr Petroccitto said the upcoming Chain of Responsibility laws would require the entire heavy vehicle supply chain to take responsibility for safety, and to ensure vehicles were roadworthy and safe to travel on the road network (see related article).
“There are some simple steps operators should take such as a regular safety checklist for maintenance, mass, loading and fitness for duty including fatigue.”
“Something as simple as a daily check can ensure the safety of both the driver and other road users by giving operators confidence their vehicle and driver are in good working order.”
Heavy vehicle safety has been in the spotlight recently, after report from the National Roads and Motorists’ Association highlighted the role of fatigue in heavy vehicle incidents. The December 2018 report, Dead Tired, called on governments to increase the number of rest stops to accommodate both heavy and light vehicles and conduct an audit of the existing rest stops across the country.
It’s believed that driving after being awake for 17 hours is equivalent to a blood alcohol level of 0.05.
What is Chain of Responsibility?
Chain of Responsibility laws are based on the notion that drivers and operators are not always the only party responsible for breaches to the Heavy Vehicle National Law. Breaches are often caused by the actions of others. Therefore, the aim of COR is to make sure everyone in the supply chain shares equal responsibility for ensuring breaches of the HVNL do not occur.
What this means in practice is that if you consign, pack, load or receive goods as part of your business, you could be held legally liable for breaches of the Heavy Vehicle National Law.
The upcoming amendments will affect the operations of businesses across the entire country – not just the transport sector. Any business that utilises freight logistics services needs to make sure they understand chain of responsibility. Now is the time to consider how these new laws will affect your day-to-day operations, so that systems and practices can be put in place to ensure compliance.