Australia, Transport News, Truck Safety

NHVR and Taskforce reach landmark outcome in Australian transport history

The NHVR and Victoria Police say a recent court finding supports the pair’s focus on enforcing safety in the heavy vehicle industry

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), alongside Taskforce Paragon, has recognised a landmark outcome in its response to the Eastern Freeway tragedy as a positive safety movement for the transport industry.

Following a six-week hearing, the National Operations Manager of a company has been found guilty of the most serious offence under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL), category one, for breaching due diligence as an operator.

The operator faces a potential two-year custodial sentence and is set to be sentenced on January 23 after the NHV laid charges in September 2021 following the Taskforce Paragon investigation from Victoria Police.

The Taskforce was established following an incident on Melbourne’s Eastern Freeway in 2020, with NHVR executive director of statutory compliance Raymond Hassall saying the collaboration between the NHVR and Victoria Police ensured a positive safety outcome for the heavy vehicle industry.

“This outcome demonstrates the power of the HVNL – with the incident occurring in Victoria, the company being based out of NSW, and having employees right across Australia, the matter was able to be heard from a national perspective,” Hassall says.

“It was also found that they were a party in the Chain of Responsibility (CoR) as an operator, sending a strong message to executives across the heavy vehicle industry that their obligation is to keep their people and all road users safe.”

NHVR director of prosecutions Belinda Hughes says it’s important that executives have systems and procedures in place to support safety in their organisation, including through fatigue management.

“We urge all companies to review what they have in place to manage the fatigue of their drivers. Is it working, is it effective?” Hughes says.

“Fatigue is a serious issue that can result in significant injury or death. It is your legal duty to support your drivers in their fatigue management.”

The NHVR says it will continue its enforcement of the HVNL, ensuring that such incidents are not repeated and that road safety is maintained at the highest level.

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