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TMC 2020: Inspector insight on enforcement efficiency gains

Intelligence and data improvement enable higher-risk target intercepts


Targeted compliance strategies that draw from improved intelligence lead to better industry safety outcomes, some of the nation’s top transport inspectors argue at the Technical and Maintenance Conference (TMC).

The panel session saw insights from some national and eastern state inspectors on how enforcement continues to evolve in those jurisdictions.

In NSW, fatalities from heavy vehicle crashes are trending down 12 per cent on last year and compliance is up for the first time in four years across more than 300,000 inspections, Transport for NSW director compliance Roger Weeks notes.

While Covid-19 and a forced reduction in mainly light-vehicle movement is seen as a contributor, Weeks outlines how targeted approaches are also seeing improved results.

For example, the truck-and-dog sector, identified as an area of concern last year, became subject to enforcement attention through weekly blitzes, dubbed Operation Wave.

Sydney’s truck-and-dog sector non-compliance rate has since dropped from 43 per cent last year to 39 per cent this year, while overall heavy vehicle non-compliance drops from 14 to 12 per cent.

It is an improvement, but there is “more to do” in that space, Weeks says.

How the truck-and-dog sector copped flak at last year’s TMC, here

Further, one of NSW’s better harvest seasons in recent years means operators are “cashing in”, he says, and where inspectors would usually target mass, observations on “fleet age being the best predictor of roadworthiness” means inspectors are finding more equipment that hasn’t been used or maintained recently – prompting safety risks and subsequent enforcement attention.

In Victoria, now under the jurisdiction of the NHVR, the regulator’s operations manager Paul Simionato says the state is also now utilising more targeted enforcement through data and sector risk profiling.

It increasingly uses mobile intercepts, due to refined intelligence and Heavy Vehicle Confidential Reporting Line (HVCRL) reports, compared to weigh scales and static (compliance setup at a particular location) inspections.

Due to this, it has observed a non-compliance rate of up to 60.4 per cent from its inspections, what at first glance may look alarming but is “not indicative of how industry is performing overall”, Simionato says, citing its ability to hone in on riskier sectors or operators.

The building material/supplies and aggregate/soil sectors remain some of the more non-compliant, as is machinery transport, and through this, load and mass constitute one of the most active breach areas.

In terms of maintenance, cracked chassis are emerging as a serious issue, particularly in the aforementioned concrete agitator/soil sectors that comprise off-road work or “twisting and torsions of the vehicle”, says Russell Greenland, former VicRoads inspector now under the NHVR banner.

Further, substandard repairs or modifications are also on the radar in the state, Greenland adds.

The inspectors accept that the HVCRL is making a difference, as seen in Victoria, with an upcoming court case involving a company and its director on fatigue charges, and the grounding of a major national fleet recently.

All maintain that a risk-based approach and emphasis on education is also leading to greater co-operation and understanding with industry.

While Greenland admits there realistically isn’t always a heavy focus up the chain of responsibility, Weeks says client company directors should have “shivers down their spine” at the prospect of this as enforcement agencies continue to find efficiency improvements.


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