ATA reiterates truck law overhaul desires

Reform should increase safety and productivity, Smith tells NTC RIS

ATA reiterates truck law overhaul desires
David Smith


The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) is calling on the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) to be overhauled to foster increased safety and productivity, reinforcing many of the body’s sentiments throughout the law review process.

The call is in response to the National Transport Commission’s (NTC’s) consultation regulation impact statement (RIS) on potential changes.

Like many of the association’s submissions to issues papers throughout last year, ATA chair David Smith says the HVNL needed to be comprehensively overhauled to deliver risk-based safety and productivity improvements.

"The scope of the law needs to be expanded to cover any party with influence over heavy vehicle transport activities, including online freight matching platforms, facility owners and operators, and truck repairers," Smith says.

"Many of the provisions of the law should be moved to the regulations so they can be changed more easily when required. 

"As part of this process, though, the fines for prescriptive offences – such as failing to draw a line in the right place on a work diary page – should be dramatically reduced. 

"Warnings should be used more often, and there should be policies in place to withdraw infringement notices for matters already dealt with under an employer’s safety management system.

"The current high penalties for minor paperwork errors do not increase safety. They are, instead, a frustrating maze of random hazards for drivers."

How ATA dismissed the ALC's case for a 'national operator standard', here

Smith adds that businesses should have more voluntary options to move away from paper record keeping.

"Operators should also be notified electronically about defect notices and have online access to safety related driving infringements

Smith points to research commissioned by the ATA showing the productivity of the transport, postal and warehousing sector falling steadily since the HVNL came into force in 2014.

"That’s why we are proposing bold initiatives to increase productivity without affecting safety.

"For example, the productivity benefits of performance based standards should be unlocked by transferring some PBS vehicle designs to the prescriptive heavy vehicle fleet, so they can be used by any operator.

"Governments also need to develop a modular high productivity freight vehicle framework and network."

ATA notes its internal consultation process on the RIS has involved nine workshops with members, two Industry Technical Council working groups and an industry-wide survey of truck drivers that generated 432 responses.

"We will consult our members further, as we complete our detailed formal submissions on assurance and accreditation, fatigue, and access," Smith says.

ATA submissions are available here.


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