Road enforcement not enough; regulators want mass monitoring

Road regulators are pushing for compulsory on-board mass monitoring, claiming roadside enforcement is not enough

Road enforcement not enough; regulators want mass monitoring
Road enforcement not enough: regulators want mass monitoring
By Brad Gardner | June 22, 2010

Road regulators are pushing for mandatory on-board mass monitoring for trucks, claiming current enforcement practices are not enough catch non-compliant vehicles.

In its draft policy proposal on on-board technology released earlier this month, the National Transport Commission highlights a strong push from some jurisdictions for a shake-up to transport law.

While the NTC wants a voluntary on-board mass system, it says some governments claim a compulsory scheme is needed because the number of trucks on the road has made roadside enforcement practices "economically less viable".

"Enforcement agencies have reported that the deterrent posed by roadside enforcement has progressively diminished, as enforcement agencies struggle to keep pace with the growing freight task," the NTC paper says.

"Electronic monitoring has been proposed by some as a more cost effective means for regulators to track compliance levels."

According to the paper, some regulators have "expressed enthusiasm" for mandatory monitoring to help improve the detection of non-compliant vehicles because there are not enough visual cues to allow roadside officers to notice a breach.

The NTC, however, claims there is no evidence to justify government intervention.

"The NTC has not yet been able to obtain substantial evidence that there is any major problem with mass compliance levels across the heavy vehicle fleet," it says.

"Rather, the evidence suggests that chain of responsibility reform and [the] national heavy vehicle accreditation scheme mass management have improved mass compliance."

The NTC recommends operators be given the choice to use certified or non-certified on-board technology to compliment existing regulations.

It also rejected claims by some governments that the NHVAS mass management module is not effective enough to mitigate the risk of non-compliance.

The NTC says it is unaware of any evidence showing widespread breaches by operators accredited in the module, stating "there is no clear justification for increasing the applicable compliance burden" on the industry.

"An option for improving the robustness of mass management accreditation may be to include some form of record keeping requirements for route compliance," the paper recommends.

The NTC has, however, supported the use of on-board monitoring over the NHVAS module if a cost benefit analysis shows it is a viable alternative.

According to the NTC, some operators have complained of the administrative burden as a barrier to applying for NHVAS accreditation.

It also suggests mandating on-board mass monitoring if there is a high compliance risk.

The paper argues that governments will impose large cost increases on the industry if they mandate on-board mass management systems.

"For a semi-trailer, the cost of an on-board mass system was estimated in 2009 at between $5,000 and $12,000. For a B-double, the cost is between $7,500 and $17,000," the NTC says.

The NTC estimates the cost of NHVAS compliance over two years is about $7,000 for an operator with three trucks and $12,000 for one with five trucks.

If an on-board mass management system is mandated and incorporates the Intelligent Access Program monitoring tool, an operator with three trucks will pay $14,000 over two years while a five-truck business will pay $24,000. This excludes maintenance costs.

"At present, it is likely that certified on-board mass monitoring systems are at a cost disadvantage…," the NTC says, while adding that the costs may fall over time.

The paper says governments see the inclusion of mass monitoring into the IAP program as the next step to ensuring operators comply with higher mass limits and overloading laws.

Queensland and NSW require operators to enrol in the IAP to gain HML access. IAP monitors a vehicle via GPS to ensure it does not stray onto a restricted route. However, operators are currently required to manually declare a vehicle’s mass.

The NTC says HML compliance can be boosted by introducing more streamlined and transparent processes instead of more regulation.

"It is a process that lacks both transparency and accountability," the NTC says of existing practices.

According to the paper, some local governments do not view applications for route access as a high priority and lack the technical expertise to assess applications on their merits.

The paper also looks at using on-board mass management to support a new road pricing scheme, which is currently being looked at by the Council of Australian Governments.

A COAG working group will next year report on its findings into a mass-distance-locating charging scheme for trucks.

The NTC recommends a low volume trial of technology to inform COAG’s policy work.

"Looking forward, on-board mass technology has the potential to support heavy vehicle pricing reform options being developed by the COAG Road Reform Plan," the paper says.

Another round of consultation will begin on the NTC’s recommendations before a final policy paper is submitted to the Australian Transport Council to vote on. The ATC brings together the nation’s transport ministers.

What do you think? Should regulators turn to technology over roadside enforcement to boost compliance practices? Should on-board mass management be mandatory? Leave your thoughts below or contact ATN.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to receive the ATN e-newsletter, digital magazine and other offers we choose to share with you straight to your inbox

You can also follow our updates by joining our LinkedIn group or liking us on Facebook


Trucks For Hire | Forklifts For Hire | Cranes For Hire | Generators For Hire | Transportable Buildings For Hire