ATA seeks demise of NHVAS; tougher COR laws

By: Brad Gardner

Australian Trucking Association unveils plan to reform heavy vehicle roadworthiness standards.

ATA seeks demise of NHVAS; tougher COR laws
The ATA wants changes made to heavy vehicle inspection standards to improve consistency and accountability.


A national truck inspection and roadworthiness system with stronger chain of responsibility provisions at its core would be introduced under a proposal from the Australian Trucking Association (ATA).

The ATA’s submission to a government review of heavy vehicle roadworthiness and inspection standards is pushing for changes that include the demise of the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme (NHVAS).

The ATA has listed the adoption of a standardised national inspection system as a top priority, along with a national inspection manual to ensure cross-border consistency when trucks are looked over for potential defects.  

In line with previous comments it has made, the ATA says chain of responsibility law should require all parties to take reasonable steps to ensure a vehicle is free of defects, safe and maintained in a roadworthy condition.

"The maximum penalty for an offence against this duty provision should be $10,000 and $50,000 for a corporation," the ATA’s submission says.

The group says the provision should apply to employers, prime contractors, vehicle operators, consignors and third party vehicle maintenance service providers.

"Third party providers play a critical role in managing the business’s maintenance management systems and compliance obligations, and should, as a result, be included as chain parties."

The ATA adds that businesses should be considered to be taking reasonable steps to comply if they have an in-house or third party maintenance system, daily vehicle checks, periodic maintenance of vehicles and consider maintenance requirements when setting budgets.

The National Transport Commission (NTC) and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) were tasked with reviewing heavy vehicle inspection standards after a fatal tanker crash near Sydney last year that involved Cootes Transport, which was enrolled in the NHVAS at the time.

The ATA’s submission claims operators in the maintenance module of the NHVAS in NSW recorded a worse level of major defects in 2009 than operators in no scheme.

"The NHVAS would fail to meet any credible set of standards. If it was not a government scheme run by the NHVR, it would be shut down," the submission states.

The ATA is also critical of the NHVR having responsibility for the scheme and for running it in competition against the association’s TruckSafe program.

"It is simply inappropriate for a regulatory authority to run a system it should be regulating," it says.

"The NHVAS in its current form should be wound down. The regulator should not continue seeking to crowd out market offerings such as the ATA’s TruckSafe safety management system by delivering an accreditation scheme in competition with them."

Furthermore, the ATA has asked for jurisdictions signed up to national heavy vehicles (NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT) to agree on a formal process for issuing, clearing and withdrawing defect notices.

The group claims many trucking operators have experienced cross-border inconsistences, a poor understanding from police leading to incorrect defects being issued, inconsistent interpretation of the law and petty enforcement when a warning would be more appropriate.

Transport ministers are due to vote in November on proposed changes to heavy vehicle inspection and roadworthiness standards.

The NTC and the NHVR are currently receiving feedback from industry on its review, which canvasses arrangements on improving when and how defects are issued, ways to strengthen the NHVAS, a clear definition of roadworthiness and applying chain of responsibility to maintenance.

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