Cultural shift crucial to improving safety, NHVR says
Regulator highlights role of supply chain in influencing safety outcomes
The driver and all parties in the Chain of Responsibility (COR) can positively or negatively influence the factors that contribute to the safe driver, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) says in a submission to the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) review.
Its response to the National Transport Commission’s (NTC’s) Safe People and Practices issues paper builds on its original recommendation that the industry shift from a prescriptive approach towards a risk-based system.
It says a key focus is improving safety outcomes by fostering a strong safety culture and safe business practices by the heavy vehicle industry.
NHVR business improvement and innovation director David Carlisle says the regulator has made a number of recommendations in its submission.
"Core to the reforms we are recommending is a shift to risk-based regulation that improves safety outcomes for everyone, instead of just focusing on the minority who do the wrong thing," Carlisle says.
"We think it’s important to adjust the traditional prescriptive regulatory approach, which relies heavily on on-road enforcement and sanctions to instead place a greater emphasis on the way we work with industry and the broader supply chain to make the industry safer across the board.
"This includes initiatives like introducing a safety duty for heavy vehicle and componentry manufacturers, with poorly manufactured vehicles and parts regularly cited by stakeholders as causing fires, breakdowns and resulting crashes.
"There’s currently very limited recourse for operators in these situations, a clear gap in the existing law."
The regulator’s recommendations include:
- empower NHVR to develop new safety standards to address issues as they arise
- investigate driver attraction and retention as a critical safety issue
- introduce a shared responsibility for fitness to drive
- promote better proactive driver health management
- deliver a single national heavy vehicle driver licensing framework
- adoption of a medical model for the management of drug and alcohol
- investigate distraction detection technology.
"The reforms are part of a significant cultural shift delivering better safety outcomes across the heavy vehicle industry and the broader supply chain, reinforced by the NHVR’s investigations and prosecutions teams undertaking a number of investigations where safety breaches have occurred," it says.
"We believe many of these improvements are an obligation, not a choice, to deliver a stronger and more flexible platform to improve industry safety and productivity."
In its submission, the regulator also notes the work it has undertaken over the past five years, "while at times complex, allows us to meet community expectations, along with those of the heavy vehicle industry and governments".
"The NHVR acknowledges that a safe heavy vehicle driver is one who is competent, fit for duty, authorised, alert and operating safely.
"They are capable of discharging all aspects of the heavy vehicle driving and operating task.
"Through their practices, the driver and all parties in the Chain of Responsibility (CoR) can positively or negatively influence the factors that contribute to the safe driver."
"A key focus for the NHVR is improving public safety by fostering a strong safety culture and safe business practices by the heavy vehicle industry."
The full submission is available here.