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Staysafe Committee releases truck technology findings

Federal issues such as accreditation and ADRs also in NSW report’s mix


New South Wales Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Road Safety, the Staysafe Committee, makes 18 findings and recommendations in its Heavy Vehicle Safety and Use of Technology to Improve Road Safety report.

The outcomes cover state and federal jurisdictions and call for a national approach to regulations, it being the best approach.

The committee gives strong support for existing built-in automated driver safety systems — the likes of adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and automated emergency braking  —  being adopted in all new trucks or retrofitted where possible but, while positive about them,  is less convinced other technologies are entirely ready.

It wants further research on fatigue management technologies, the limitations of telematics deployment, and connected and automated vehicle technologies.

“While looking at technology inevitably leads to the cutting edge, our inquiry found evidence of may available technologies, electronic and non-electronic, which we can roll out now to achieve better safety outcomes,” committee chair Greg Aplinwites in the foreword.

“It is important not to lose sight of simple, affordable and available solutions as technology advances.”

The committee acknowledges that government is being left behind as technology forges ahead quickly but also note that the governed are far from united on several issues.

“Perhaps the most concern is finding uncertainty in the regulatory landscape,” Aplin writes.

“The industry is enthusiastic about technology take-up but as a result we see different technologies being taken up at different rates.

“Stakeholders also differ in their support for voluntary or mandatory safety regulation.

“While the committee has not made a recommendation for a particular regulatory framework, as with driverless vehicles, we are convinced that only a national approach to regulation will ensure the best safety outcomes for the state.”

Given its preference for action involving long-proven solutions it is perhaps no surprise electronic work diaries comes in for attention.

“The Committee finds that many of the concerns expressed by stakeholders regarding the purpose and use of electronic work diaries need to be overcome as a priority before the roll out proceeds,” it says, while making plain its concern that the gulf between mandatory and voluntary stances and needs to be addressed nationally.

It was one of several interventions on national matters controlled by or involving Canberra or the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) or the industry.

For instance, the design rules system came in for a beating.

“The Committee finds that the process for introducing new Australian Design Rules or amending existing Australian Design Rules is overly complex, and that delays are inhibiting efforts to improve heavy vehicle safety through the take-up of new technology,” it says.=

It wants a critical state government eye cast over accreditation, an area the NHVR is already reviewing, and the vexed question of operator licensing.

“The committee recommends that, given the lack of industry consensus, the New South Wales government examine the relative merits of accreditation and licensing, and the various models of regulation which they impose, with a view to determining how to achieve the most road safety improvements at the most efficient cost,” it says.

But it also sees areas where the state government can improve.

“The committee recommends that the New South Wales Government review its current heavy vehicle safety consultation arrangements to ensure the needs of industry, drivers, workers, stakeholders and the community are being met,” it says.

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) highlights several issues in its thumbs-up for the report.

With the ALC a backer of mandatory telematics and National Operating Standards, ALC MD Michael Kilgariff says: “It is positive to see that the report notes there are proven technologies in existence which can enhance road safety, and that ‘promotion of these technologies is to us an obvious path for regulators and industry to follow’.

“ALC welcomes the recommendation that the ‘NSW government adopt a consistent policy on the installation of telematics in heavy vehicles’, and we urge the NSW government to continue its leadership on these matters.

“One of the key outcomes at last week’s meeting of the Transport and Infrastructure Council (TIC) was an agreement by all jurisdictions to examine ‘a national approach to heavy vehicle accreditation schemes’, as well as to improve ‘the introduction and uptake of safety technologies in the heavy vehicle fleet’.”

The full report can be found here.


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