NatRoad seeking feedback on self-clearing defect notices

Association supportive of defect category but unsure of application by authorities

NatRoad seeking feedback on self-clearing defect notices
A Victorian defect notice


More than a year after its rollout, the National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) says it supports the ‘self-clearing defect’ category in the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) based on information from authorities but is seeking wider feedback from the coalface.

A defect notice can be determined by the safety risk of continued heavy vehicle use within context.

A major defect applies if there is an imminent and serious safety risk, a minor defect notice applies to less serious safety risks, and a self-clearing defect notice is issued for vehicles that do not pose a safety risk.

In the year since its implementation on July 1, 2017, RMS reports the following numbers, which indicates a gradual increase in the number of self-clearing notices being issued:


NatRoad says it is now seeking further data on the other defect categories – for example, if the increase of self-clearing defects has led to fewer more serious defects – and has also issued a callout for members to provide feedback on how the notices are being applied by authorised officers in jurisdictions.

"We have made a request to RMS to supply the comparative data," NatRoad tells ATN.

"[NatRoad wants] member and other feedback about whether the issue of self-clearing defect notices accompanies an outbreak of common sense or whether there are still instances of pedantic issues that do not affect road safety being the subject of fines/offence notices."

Context is everything 

"This category will allow minor non-safety related defects to be rectified by the operator," National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) CEO Sal Petroccitto said when the rule was put in place.

"A self-clearing defect notice means the operator does not have to present the vehicle to an approved person to clear the notice."

NHVR bid to cut red tape on minor defect notices. Read more, here

NatRoad says the NHVR indicated the same defective component may be categorised differently for each scenario depending on the following criteria and factors that officers can assess against:

  • Identify what safety systems may be compromised by the identified defects and/or defective components
  • Determine the extent that the defective components have compromised the performance of the vehicle’s safety systems using their knowledge and experience
  • Determine the effect that the compromised safety system has on the continued safe use of the vehicle on a road
  • Consider any external factors that may place differing demands on vehicle performance and components including posted speed limit, road features (grade, bends, intersections), traffic density, weather conditions, lighting conditions (day or night), nature of the load etc.

For example, a heavy vehicle with inoperative headlights during daylight hours in fine weather conditions poses a different safety risk to operating at night or in poor weather conditions, and faulty tow coupling poses a different risk when operating with or without a trailer.


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