NatRoad 19: Case for HVNL reform to lift burden


Nation has ‘lost the plot’ on administration of the industry, Mahon says

NatRoad 19: Case for HVNL reform to lift burden
Gary Mahon

 

The Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) reform will shape the industry for four decades and may show a path away from the ‘administrivia’ that plagues it.

This was the message Queensland Trucking Association (QTA) CEO Gary Mahon brought to the National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) conference panel discussion in Brisbane.

Mahon lambasted the administrative burden that means a truck driver is weighed down by about 2,200 pages of legislation on sitting behind the steering wheel.

"In the current law, there are over 250 pages on fatigue and hours of service," he says.

"There are 112 offences in that set of statutes, 24 of those actually relate to rest and hours, 87 of them are administrative offences and there is one that relates to driving while impaired.

"You can’t look at it in any other way. We have lost the plot."

Mahon reiterates his call for a modern, simplified approach to regulation facilitated by technology, one that avoids a prescriptive approach formed more than 80 years ago. One that would focus on real-time monitoring and the use of safety-management systems.

"We’re not asking for more hours, we are asking for flexibility," he says.


Read about how the HVNL review started, here


 On the lack of recent reform, Mahon noted that despite the immense cost of building an east coast highway to the highest standard, there has been no productivity payoff, with the last change to a limited access vehicle happening in 1996 with the 26 metre B-double.

In the face of a chronic shortage of rest areas, he advocates for an extra metre to be added to vehicle length rules specially for bunks.

National Heavy Vehicle Regulator CEO Sal Petroccitto was broadly in agreement but warns change will need to shown to be safe and effective.

"The administration of the law is quite diverse and complex in terms of who does the enforcement," Petroccitto says.

"And with (a reform push) will need to come a level of confidence by those who make the policy that changing something that has been, whether right or wrong, for so long won’t compromise the safety outcome.

"Technology, in our view, provides that opportunity but technology will need to be slowly accepted and adopted by those who enforce and implement it."

He urged all in the industry to be involved in the HVNL reform process, saying "it’s up to you guys to fix that".

 

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