Mainland states adopt a wait-and-see approach to South Australia’s truck driver privacy changes
Other states plan to closely watch the implementation of South Australia’s amendment to privacy regulations before considering similar changes themselves.
The changes will allow SA Police to inform transport operators if drivers of their vehicles are found behaving dangerously on the road.
Speeding, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs are the most likely catalysts for referral, but the regulations give police the power to inform whenever they believe the situation warrants it.
“These draft regulations will remove that impediment allowing police to notify of serious offences,” SA transport minister Stephen Mullighan says.
“This measure will give the owners and operators of heavy vehicles greater control and certainty over their businesses, as well as making our roads safer for all South Australians.”
The SA Road Transport Association, which lobbied for the changes over more than 10 years, has applauded the decision.
But counterparts in other states will have to wait before similar laws are enacted in their jurisdictions.
The Australian Trucking Association NSW (ATANSW) has been lobbying the NSW Roads and Maritime Services for similar laws.
ATANSW manager Jodie Broadbent says that while nothing is expected to happen immediately, the SA amendment will provide a strong evidence base for further lobbying.
“We suspect most governments will look at SA’s changes positively,” Broadbent says.
But re-elected roads and freight minister Duncan Gay says any changes in NSW will be limited to granting employers access to real-time licence information.
“To protect privacy, I envisage a simple concept along the lines of a red or green traffic light to indicate if a licence is valid or not,” he tells ATN.
“Put simply, the nature of any infringement is kept confidential, as are any details of the driver.”
Spokespeople for the Queensland, Western Australian and Victorian governments were also non-committal of releasing anything beyond basic information.
“At this point in time, there is no intention for a similar change in WA,” a WA transport department official says, adding that employers are still able to check the driver licence status of professional drivers [with the individual’s consent] using its online service.
“The information provided is based on traffic offence details supplied by WA Police.”
Queensland’s transport and main roads department offers a similar service.
“Queensland privacy legislation does not allow disclosure of licensing offence information to employers,” a department spokesperson says.
“Queensland will monitor the implementation of the new laws in South Australia to better understand how such a scheme could work, including any operational issues.”
ATN also contacted a spokesperson for Victorian roads minister Luke Donnellan, who did not respond to the SA regulations specifically but reiterated the state government’s commitment to road safety.
“The Andrews Labor Government takes the issue of heavy vehicle safety very seriously,” he says.
“While the majority of truck drivers do the right thing, we will continue to work closely with VicRoads and our road safety partners, including Victoria Police, to continue to make the safety of all road users our top priority.”