A focus on roadworthiness
Like all issues of this nature, there is no black or white answer to this policy challenge. Rather, a sensible balance needs to be sought. ALC is committed to assuring the roadworthiness of heavy vehicles used on Australian roads. It’s good for safety, it makes smart business sense and it reflects positively on the entire freight transport and logistics industry.
ALC believes significant change to the regulatory framework governing heavy vehicle roadworthiness needs to be well thought through, undertaken in close consultation with industry and done in such a way that prioritises activities that deliver results.
To that end, ALC has provided substantive comment to the National Transport Commission (NTC) in response to a Regulatory Impact Statement it published on proposed changes to heavy vehicle roadworthiness processes.
As outlined in one of my previous articles in Prime Mover, the National Transport Commission and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) are developing a Heavy Vehicle Roadworthiness Program during 2015 and 2016.
It will set up a national system based upon a risk-based approach with the aim of assuring the roadworthiness of heavy vehicles used on Australian roads. The Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) published recently by the NTC and NHVR proposes four options ranging from taking no action to quite intensive regulation.
In our submission, ALC has proposed a series of first practical steps, focused on some critical administrative reforms that should be progressed to improve safety and national consistency.
Importantly, we believe these reforms should be implemented before more wholesale legislative changes to the Heavy Vehicle National Law proposed in the RIS are considered.
Some in the industry may argue that legislative changes need to be implemented sooner and go further than what ALC is proposing. ALC’s position is that longer term improvements can only be undertaken after some short term changes are put in place that set a solid foundation for future reform.
In ALC’s view, the first steps that are needed are the development by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator of:
• A national heavy vehicle compliance and surveillance strategy:
• Greater standardisation in how inspections are conducted;
• Clearer and more precise criteria for assessing defects as being of major or minor severity;
• Greater standardisation requirements for clearing defects; and
• A harmonised education and training package
ALC would like to see this work undertaken as a matter of priority. More substantive amendments to the Heavy Vehicle National Law can only be considered after these projects are finalised, when there is confidence that any standards produced have quality, and that any standards developed are being interpreted the same way across the country.
Our submission, which is available on our website www.austlogistics.com.au/policy-advocacy/submissions-2015/ also outlines ALC’s strong willingness to work with regulators on behalf of industry to develop a number of critical documents necessary to underpin any future changes to heavy vehicle roadworthiness processes and procedures.
Potential changes of this magnitude will need to go before Federal, State and Territory Transport and Infrastructure Ministers (Transport and Infrastructure Council) for their approval and so I look forward to keeping you updated on any developments to this issue throughout the course of the year.