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Bad look for industry spurs ATA call for COR action

Variety of industry and regulator responses after Fairfax probe


The trucking industry and those who oversee it scrambled to respond to the weekend’s airing of the sector’s dirty linen in the Fairfax press.

Few ‘hot-button’ items were missed, including Chain of Responsibility (COR) in an examination that appeared to dovetail with aspects of the Transport Workers Union’s (TWU’s) critique of industry woes.


Australian Trucking Association (ATA) chair Geoff Crouch states that the national and state governments must set a start date for the strong new truck laws scheduled for next year.

“The ATA and its members lobbied strongly for the new laws, which include a new primary safety duty for all businesses in the road freight transport chain of responsibility, including the extension of the laws to maintenance, a due diligence obligation on company executives, and a massive increase in maximum penalties,” Crouch says.

“These laws are needed to stop large industry customers from pressuring trucking businesses into operating unsafely on the road.

“The laws are due to come into effect in 2018, but we do not yet have a defined starting date.

“The ATA and its members are running strong information campaigns about the new laws, as is the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator [NHVR].

“With the Australian Logistics Council, we are jointly developing a master registered code of practice to help businesses comply. But having a specific starting date is needed to focus the attention of every industry customer.”

The ATA wants governments must also commit to publish the results of the current review into truck driver training and licensing.

“As a result of pressure from the good operators and trainers in our industry, governments are reviewing the truck driver licensing and training system,” Crouch says.

“The consultants undertaking the review are scheduled to report back in November 2017.

“Given the concerns raised by industry about the quality of driver training and licensing, and the stories over the weekend, governments must now commit to make the report publicso we can all see the findings.”

While the TWU notes the recent up-tick in heavy vehicle fatalities, the ATA points out that the historic trend is down.

“Authoritative statistics from the University of Adelaide Centre for Automotive Safety Research (CASR) show that the fatal crash rate for articulated trucks declined 82 per cent between 1982 and 2016,” Crouch says.

“The number of articulated trucks in Australia increased from about 47,000 in 1982 to more than 96,000 in 2016, but despite the growing fleet the number of fatal accidents is trending downwards.

“The truck accident rate won’t be acceptable until it’s zero, but we are making progress – and the changes we are seeking will result in further progress.”


In the face of the Fairfax accusation that the current COR approach had failed, hence the strengthening,  the NHVR says it would support “further expansion to new laws that target 165,000 companies that make up the heavy vehicle supply chain”.

NVHR CEO Sal Petroccitto says recent media articles about heavy vehicle safety highlighted the progress that had been made to reforming safety laws and he points to actions his organisation has .

“I believe there is more work to do, but we are already making significant progress to improve heavy vehicle safety,” Petroccitto says.

“We are working closely with state and Federal jurisdictions to achieve national consistency for safety standards and in future this may include licensing standards for heavy vehicle drivers.

“A great example of the states and NHVR working together are the new Chain of Responsibility laws which will deliver some of the most significant reforms for heavy vehicle safety in Australia’s history.

“Under the new laws coming in mid-2018, the entire heavy vehicle supply chain will be required to take steps to deliver a safer road transport industry with many companies looking to transition to, or improve existing safety management systems.

“The NHVR has delivered 76 information and education sessions across Australia and we’ve got another 26 sessions starting next months as part of the introduction to the new laws.

“I’m pleased to see many companies in the supply chain already taking practical steps to ensure they meet the new laws.”

He adds that NHVR would continue to encourage heavy vehicle businesses to develop or transition to safety management systems.


Road Freight NSW underlines that (RFNSW) it continues to work with its members and industry stakeholders to ensure safety and compliance are front and centre of the daily operations of heavy vehicles on our roads.

 “Our members who have worked in the industry for many years have always, and will always maintain, that safety on the road network is paramount,” RFNSW general manager Simon O’Hara says.

“We would have appreciated the opportunity to have some input into the articles to give our members’ perspectives on truck safety. After all, they balance safety and compliance, with their cost imperatives, as few others do.

“RFNSW meets with our members and stakeholders like RMS and NHVR regularly to raise any issues we have around safety policies and compliance, with strategies then developed and implemented, as part of our commitment to heavy vehicle safety on NSW roads.

“Amendments to COR laws commencing in mid-2018, means that drivers will be required to undertake daily checks of their trucks, assess any operational risks and ensure they are fully compliant, otherwise businesses will suffer.

“We’re sending the message that everyone in the supply chain has a role to play, not just carriers.

“RFNSW also believes that the adoption of new technologies and ongoing public education campaigns focusing on road safety overall, will assist in curbing preventable accidents and fatalities.”

RFNSW says its annual conference, to be held in Sydney on November 1, will focus on how carriers can gain the knowledge and expertise to successfully operate under the new COR laws, ensuring that safety and compliance are at the forefront of their businesses.


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