Don't rule out mandatory truck tracking: RTA

RTA talks up prospect of compulsory truck trackers and is looking at using telematics to target oversized vehicles

Don't rule out mandatory truck tracking: RTA
Don’t rule out mandatory truck tracking: RTA
By Brad Gardner | September 24, 2010

The NSW roads department has signalled a willingness to implement mandatory truck monitoring and has criticised a proposal for tracking systems to remain voluntary.

Responding to a draft telematics strategy released earlier this year by the National Transport Commission, the Roads and Traffic Authority has mounted a spirited defence of compulsory in-vehicle units.

The NTC wants trucking operators to be given the choice of using paper-based electronic reporting methods.

According to the RTA, the decision to rule out compulsory monitoring is based on "arguably spurious evidence and through adopting a very narrow analysis based on costs to industry".

"There can be little argument that the application of telematics to improve business profitability should be voluntary," it says.

"However, it is the RTA’s view that the case for mandating coverage in the interests of compliance for safety and asset protection purposes requires further analysis."

It wants governments to look abroad at European countries that have introduced the technology.

"The effect of mandating digital tachographs in the European Union, for example, has not been assessed nor has the Australian exercise of mandating speed limiters."

Following a crackdown in NSW on oversized trucks entering tunnels, the RTA says it is now looking at ways to quickly identify vehicles at risk and take action to stop them.

"Road – and especially bridge and tunnel – damage caused by overloaded, over dimension or speeding heavy vehicles could be effectively precluded with the deployment of telematics devices," it says.

The RTA says incidents involving oversized trucks are increasing, impacting the road network and damaging infrastructure.

"The RTA is currently investigating solutions to this problem including the use of real time telematics using commercial radio data broadcasting," it says.

The department is also looking beyond oversized vehicles.

"There is also a case to be made for evaluating the adoption of new generation in-vehicle telematics to better monitor and manage dangerous goods vehicles," the RTA says.

According to the RTA, in-vehicle telematics benefit regulators by reducing roadside enforcement costs. It says operators also benefit by having access to information such as fleet performance, traffic congestion and maps.

It is also critical of the use of speed limiters, which are prone to tampering.

"Speed limiters are required for certain classes of high risk vehicle. There is certainly a case for upgrading these requirements to more reliable and tamper proof electronic systems," the RTA says.

"In addition, the adoption of electronic systems for monitoring speed should be carefully considered and appropriately evaluated. Indeed, in terms of cost benefit analysis, the use of technological safety devices in areas of high risk might be considered."

As the NTC prepares to release a new discussion paper on electronic work diaries (EWD), the RTA has already flagged a new area which might be included under a monitoring scheme.

"EWD and on-board mass monitoring are certainly priorities for the freight sector but there is a case to be made for devices which prevent environmental damage as well," it says.

The department has also highlighted comments raised in the telematics strategy about drivers falsifying paper work diaries

Labelling the practice "concerning", the RTA says "it is indicative of a culture that tolerates unsafe practices" rather than the unsuitability of fatigue management law.

The NTC’s paper, Draft National In-Vehicle Telematics Strategy supports a voluntary scheme aimed at encouraging operators to use electronic monitoring.

NTC CEO Nick Dimopoulos says the NTC wants 90 percent of the trucking industry using in-vehicle technologies by 2030 to improve efficiency and manage speed, fatigue and overloading risks.

However, the NTC has found reluctance by sections of the industry to use the technology due to installation and maintenance costs and privacy concerns.

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