Opinion: Access to driver records is crucial

By: Warren Clark

A lack of uniformity in state laws hinders safety and compliance

Opinion: Access to driver records is crucial
Managers are flying blind on COR for drivers' fitness to work


The strengthened Chain of Responsibility (CoR) laws which commenced on October 1, 2018, reinforce that operators have a responsibility to prevent or minimise potential injury, danger or loss by ensuring their transport activities are safe.

Part of that duty is to ensure that drivers are fit for work and properly licensed to drive the heavy vehicle assigned to them. 

Operators need to be aware, for example, if a driver has accumulated demerit points so as to lose his or her licence.

But NatRoad members find it difficult to obtain data about offences and other licensing details from employees and subcontractors.

The NatRoad board is concerned that there is no uniformity in Australian law for operators to securely access driver records and on road breaches of their drivers. 

A legislative change that brings in the right of all operators to access the driver records would assist industry safety.

We will be raising this issue with the National Transport Commission (NTC) in the current review of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) and recently raised the issue with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) to obtain its support on the NatRoad stance.

Read Warren Clark's commentary on digital platforms in freight, here

Currently, the law is different in each state and territory. 

New South Wales, for example, operates on the basis that the relevant information is able to be released with the consent of the driver following the operator entering into an agreement with Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) and the driver signing a Driver Consent Form. 

Clause 112 of the Road Transport (Driver Licensing) Regulation 2017 permits RMS to release driver licence and broad demerit point status information with employee or subcontractor consent. 

The agreement that RMS enters into with the operator must have been the subject of consultation with the Privacy Commissioner.  

In South Australia, police officers have a discretion to provide relevant material about serious offences to operators via Regulation 7(a) of the Motor Vehicle Regulations 2010, although camera-based information must not be provided.

There is a provision in Queensland legislation that is not yet in force but which NatRoad believes would be a good model for Australia. 

The Queensland Parliament in June 2018 passed an amendment to the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 that deals with the issue. 

It covers all traffic history offences, including HVNL offences.

The Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads will be reporting to the operator, not a police officer. 

Following contact with the NHVR, we established that the department will be introducing a system that will permit the reporting to be done automatically. 

When NatRoad spoke to an officer of the department, he informed us that the delay in the provision becoming law related to the need to bring in this system.

When this law is in operation in Queensland there will be a positive change for Queensland operators. 

But this is the provision that is needed Australia wide, and needs to be adopted in each state and territory.

The COR positive safety duties mean that operators must have adequate information available to them that enables them to assess whether they should let their drivers take the wheel. 

Warren Clark is NatRoad’s chief executive officer


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