SA bodies question ‘strange list’ of NHVR safety initiatives

SARTA and SAFC alarmed at government and regulator’s heavy vehicle safety roadmap

SA bodies question ‘strange list’ of NHVR safety initiatives
Shearer says current list of safety initiatives is not in line with what was agreed during industry meeting with Chester.


The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR’s) next round of Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative program will feature a trial of livestock unloading equipment.

The project will involve construction and trial of a stock crate pivot access landing (PAL) frame at a livestock processer.

Announcing the move, federal infrastructure and transport minister Darren Chester says the government will also explore "innovative funding options" and options to see how the program can be rolled out at other locations across Australia.

"Landings used for loading and unloading livestock can greatly add to the safety of operators, reducing falls and giving better access to the trailer," Chester says.

"The rate of falls, injuries and even fatalities among livestock operators is too high and I look forward to seeing the outcomes of this trial to improve both operator safety and productivity in the heavy vehicle industry."

The program is one of the 12 proposals approved for a share of the $3.9 million funding by the NHVR.

The announcement has pleased the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA), which states the project will "greatly improve" safety and productivity in the livestock supply chain.

"Transport operators have to rely on other parties in the supply chain to provide loading and unloading infrastructure, such as livestock ramps and pivot access unloading frames," ALRTA secretary John Beer says.

"High quality infrastructure can greatly improve safety and productivity for heavy vehicle operators and this project will demonstrate an innovative new funding mechanism that incentivises rapid infrastructure improvements throughout the road transport supply chain."

However, the funding announcement has also garnered staunch criticism.

Both the South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) and the SA Freight Council (SAFC) have questioned why the government has ignored calls by the industry to tackle one of the key issues in the trucking sector – that of road safety.

SARTA and SAFC have separately highlighted government figures that estimate up to 80 per cent of heavy vehicle accidents are caused by motorists, before calling into question why "so little" is being done to address where the problem.

SARTA criticises authorities for "frittering" away money on issues that will not solve the problem of road safety.

SARTA executive officer Steve Shearer is miffed at the government’s lack of efforts in creating community awareness and understanding of how to share the road with trucks through a dedicated ‘Share the Road Safely’ public campaign that was agreed to by Chester in April.

While SARTA agrees that the construction of the livestock stock crate frame will address safety issues in transporting livestock, it questions why it is not being funded by abattoir operators and livestock producers.

It says the transport industry is neither responsible nor has the funds to run road safety campaigns, "only government can do that but they choose not to".

Both SARTA and SAFC blame authorities for not ensuring the funds redirected from the scrapped Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) to the regulator were being used for more pressing issues like road safety.

The government on its part believes it is in fact investing money in "valuable road safety initiatives for the heavy vehicle industry".

The Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative called for implementable, value-for-money initiatives that deliver significant heavy vehicle safety benefits, a government statement notes.

"We will help change lives and save lives with these projects," Chester says.                                               

Other initiatives to receive funding under the current round include:

  • heavy vehicle safety hotline to allow anonymous reporting of potential infringements to the NHVR
  • forestry logistics safety program, to provide information on load restraint, key impacts on vehicle stability when transporting forestry products and emerging technologies
  • roll out of local safe freight networks in areas where heavy vehicle crashes are higher than average
  • installation of, and education around, green reflector markings of informal truck bays on the Newell Highway.

The funding will also support a campaign targeting the "appropriate use" of shared rest stops caravan drivers and heavy vehicle operators.

Calling it a "very strange list of projects" SAFC states while the ‘Share the truck stop safely’ campaign for caravans will help in addressing truck driver fatigue, it "fails to address the largest heavy vehicle involved crash safety factor – other motorists".

"There is also a ‘Share the Road with Agricultural Machinery’ campaign that likewise fails to meet the point – the unsafe actions of cars around trucks," SAFC points out.

Meanwhile, NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto says funding had also been approved to expand the network of heavy vehicle compliance cameras in Victoria, Australian Capital Territory, Queensland and South Australia.

SARTA calls it a "blatant cost-shifting of a proper government compliance initiative by hiving off funds that were promised for safety improvements".

"This should be funded from other government sources," Shearer says.

The NHVR states it is currently working with other state road transport authorities to identify additional camera sites which are located along the busiest freight routes to maximise heavy vehicle monitoring capability.

ATN has sought comment from the Department of Infrastructure and Transport in response to SARTA and SAFC's critique.


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