Opinion: HVNL review opens safety opportunities

By: Shannon Kyle

The probe is the quantum leap the transport industry needs right now

Opinion: HVNL review opens safety opportunities
Shannon Kyle


Changing our industry focus

With the National Transport Commission (NTC) leading a review of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL), the transport industry has a unique opportunity to undergo much-needed change.

The review is designed to bring the HVNL ‘back to basics,’ removing unnecessary limitations and replacing them with more streamlined accreditation processes, a focus on enhanced fatigue management and new priority areas such as safe and efficient access to data.

This change is an important step in bringing the transport industry into the future and ensuring a renewed focus on safety and accessibility. At nearly 700 pages, the current HVNL is overly prescriptive and yet still doesn’t go far enough to protect drivers.

It’s essential that the law creates a straightforward and proactive approach to managing risks on the road, without leaving operators bogged down by paperwork.

Benefits of a proactive approach

The transport industry has historically been reactive. This review is a rare chance to improve operating standards from the ground up and lay the foundation for the future. It’s a chance to cement better practices to improve safety and productivity across the sector.

In particular, improved use of data will drive big changes across the industry. Having easily accessible fleet data can level the playing field for small and large operators alike, allowing them to identify current risks in their operations and address them directly to remain compliant. Overall, this data will also help businesses make quicker, more informed decisions.

Being able to understand fleets comprehensively and plan workloads based on accurate and timely information will change how the transport industry operates. With a focus on improving safety, data can be used to improve on-road behaviour and fleet patterns to create safer, more compliant, and productive fleets. 

Compliance and safety in action

Businesses shouldn’t risk the health and safety of their staff, the general public, or their reputation. With the recent Chain Of Responsibility (COR) changes, supply chain regulations have been brought in line with current workplace health and safety laws. This continued focus on compliance is effective and should be put into practice with Safety Management Systems, but it shouldn’t mean just ticking a box on a checklist. 

Read how an over-reaction on COR has sparked a regulator warning, here

Instead, businesses need to build a culture of safety throughout their operation. Using data in daily business procedures can encourage more proactive identification and mitigation of risk. For example, with the introduction of electronic work diaries as a replacement for paper logbooks, operators can address fatigue head on and track driver hours, improve scheduling and identify fatigue-related risk immediately.

The proposed review of the HVNL represents a huge opportunity for the industry as a whole to reassess priorities for the future. More relevant and easily applicable legislation will help businesses target and achieve safety goals and focus on continuous improvement, supported by technology.

A renewed focus on safety and accountability won’t just lead to cost savings and overall higher quality standards, it might just save a life – and that’s something worth investing in.

Shannon Kyle is a transport solutions specialist at Teletrac Navman


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