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HVNL should focus on safety, not revenue raising: NatRoad

NatRoad outlines safety strategy with HVNL review in mind


With the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) review on the horizon and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) seeking input on its draft safety policy, a risk-based regulatory system tops the National Road Transport Association’s (NatRoad’s) proposed safety strategy.

In its paper, Increasing Safety In Road Transport: Towards Zero, which contains safety priorities towards a target of zero fatalities by 2050, NatRoad also supports greater uptake of vehicle technology and infrastructure investment but rejects ‘safe rates’ as a pertinent factor.

Presenting its strategy to the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport Australia (CILTA) in Canberra, NatRoad compliance adviser Richard Calver says NatRoad supports a move away from the approach of mere compliance with specific rules “that often involve the application of fines for trivial or administrative matters”.

“A newly framed Heavy Vehicle National Law should be about the management of risk,” Calver says.

“This is especially the case with the fatigue management provisions of the HVNL which contain a vast array of highly prescriptive elements, but for example, do not lead to the identification and control of impairment based on being fatigued.

“The current law can lead to a perverse outcome of being compliant but not always safe.

“Let’s bring on the HVNL review and make the law more focused on safety and less concerned with revenue raising.”

Four other NatRoad priorities include:

  • Addressing the recent stagnation in the industry’s fatality rate, which has reduced to only 2 per cent per annum in the three years to 2018

“A dedicated authority such as the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) should be given power to promptly and fully investigate serious truck accidents and to share the results and recommendations publicly so that all industry participants can take the appropriate action to reduce the road toll. That role should also encompass better research on trends and causal factors.  Currently, both data and research are inadequate to formulate benchmarks,” Calver says.

  • Rapid deployment and accelerated uptake of proven vehicle safety technologies and innovation  

“NatRoad policy is that the purchase of new trucks that are safer and better for the environment should be incentivised through stamp duty concessions,” Calver says.

  • A need for greater infrastructure investment   

“This should focus on fixing high-risk roads. Expanding infrastructure investment programs to improve road access for high productivity and oversize/overmass vehicles to reduce truck movements should also be a priority,” Calver says.

  • A greater emphasis on Chain of Responsibility enforcement and the rejection of the safe rates policy  

“Remuneration of owner drivers cannot be expected to in any way affect the behaviour of other motorists who share the road and the link between regulating freight rates and increasing road safety is, in any event, far from proven,” Calver says.

NatRoad contends the current law is not fit for purpose and a restructured HVNL should “reinforce the adoption of safety management systems and which bring more robust measures to bear against all parties in the chain of responsibility”.

It also reiterates a need for much better research on the underlying causes of crashes and the key factors involved with identifying trends and patterns.

NTC says review of flawed HVNL to go back to basics. Read more, here

NHVR Safety Policy

On October 12, the NHVR opened the floor to submissions for the NHVR Safety Policy, which “will outline the guiding principles we apply in developing and administering a regulatory framework that supports the Heavy Vehicle National Law and our vision for safety in the heavy vehicle industry”.

The safety policy will apply to all regulatory and operational activities, incorporating the planning, execution and maintenance of regulatory initiatives, NHVR says.

“The safety policy is intended to promote an environment of continuous improvement that embraces safety, including the constant evaluation of activities and initiatives to ensure that they are delivering the intended safety outcomes. This includes monitoring best practice in Australia and overseas,” it adds.

Submissions can be made until November 5.


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