NHVR to look for safety gains in SA coroner’s findings

By: Rob McKay

Petroccito highlights Roadworthiness Review after call for chain of responsibility to cover maintenance.

NHVR to look for safety gains in SA coroner’s findings
Sal Petroccito says the regulator will do what it can to help.

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) will examine the South Australian deputy coroner’s recommendations after findings were released this week on two fatal truck crashes on the South Eastern Freeway.

While most of the recommendations do no fall within the NHVR’s remit and some have been questioned within the industry,

NHVR CEO Sal Petroccito tells ATN it will examine what safety outcomes may be available within them.

"Recommendations 13 and 14 refer to roadworthiness and maintenance regimes currently the subject of the roadworthiness review being undertaken, at the request of Australia’s transport ministers, by the NHVR and the National Transport Commission (NTC)," Petroccito states.

"As part of the review, the NHVR last year put forward changes to the auditing provisions of NHVAS business rules and standards to strengthen the quality of audits and improve operator compliance with the maintenance management of their heavy vehicles.

"These changes were approved by Australia’s transport ministers in November 2014 and will begin to take effect from March 2015.

"The NTC will shortly release a regulatory impact statement (RIS) that examines options to improve the effectiveness of the heavy vehicle roadworthiness regime nationally."

Two of the findings are already being considered by the review, which are:

  • the extension of the chain of responsibility in the Heavy Vehicle National Law to vehicle standards and roadworthiness
  • periodic inspections of the heavy vehicle fleet.

"In partnership with the NTC and as part of the roadworthiness review and national consultation on the RIS, the NHVR is committed to considering the Deputy Coroner’s findings in detail," Petroccito adds.

Deputy coroner Anthony Schapel has called for truck maintenance to come within the bounds of chain of responsibility and for licensing changes implemented with regard to the dangers posed by the South Eastern Freeway descent but the NHVR point out that such responsibilities lie elsewhere.

Driver licencing is not part of the legislative responsibilities of the NHVR under the Heavy Vehicle National Law.

"Licencing requirements, however, are clearly an important way to ensure that drivers safely manage their vehicles through the diverse conditions that occur across the Australian road network," Petroccito says.

"The recommendations relating to driver competencies and licensing requirements referred to in the deputy coroner’s findings are matters for state and territory jurisdictions to consider.

"There are no provisions under the Heavy Vehicle National Law specifically dealing with these matters, though the NHVR is willing to work with any jurisdiction that moves to implement the deputy coroner’s recommendations to see how we can support improved safety for all road users."

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