Diesel News got a taste of the NHVR Roadside Experience on a recent visit to South Australia, where the first roadside enforcement officers, employed directly by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator are looking after heavy vehicles in the state.
We turned up at the Adelaide office of the NHVR one morning to meet the enforcement team for a day on the road. This team is, essentially, the one that used to do the same job for the SA Government. Since the changeover late last year some extra officers have been added and the 22 member team have been going through extensive training programs to get them up to speed with exactly how the NHVR want to run roadside enforcement in the state and across Australia.
This process is not only important for SA, but is a dry run for the process Tasmania is about go through, to be followed by the much larger and complex task of integrating the NSW Roads and Maritime Services truck regulation organisation into the NHVR fold.
“Tasmania is on board next as of July 1 2018,” says Paul Simionato, NHVR Operations Manager in South Australia. “There’s going to be some interesting challenges such as finding a balance between extensive training for our new members and ensuring business as usual. But the kinds of lessons we learnt in SA will assist.”
The first observation of note is the vehicles we head off in, out of the Adelaide CBD, up through the Adelaide Hills and further east. The Ford Explorer and Ranger ute are painted up in NHVR colours and driven by officers in their new NHVR uniforms, a sight we can expect to see spread slowly across the country in the next few years.
“There’s a level of excitement in our team,” says Paul. “When you talk about change, with existing members being retrained and new members provided with full training, it results in a more professional organisation. They are refreshed, and really enjoy going to work.”
There was an atmosphere of calm in the vehicles as we chatted about where we were going and what we could expect to see on the road that day. En route, the car came up behind a group of B-doubles and the officers decided to do a spot check on the rear vehicle. It is an unhurried process, flicking on the flashing purple lights on the roof and then calling the driver up on the radio and asking them politely to pull into the approaching parking bay.
The truck pulled off the road and the officers got out and went through the usual motions. The driver handed over their license and work diary and was relaxed and clearly on top of conforming to the rules, as the second officer had a walk around the truck. Everything went to the NHVR script.
A little further down the highway and when the team approached the weigh-bridges, a truck came into view which attracted some attention. The load would normally be carried on a tri-axle trailer but was sitting on a tandem axle trailer.
Pulling in front of the truck, the lights went on, and an illuminated sign saying ‘Follow Me’ was flashed to the driver and he was politely asked over the radio to head into the weigh-bridge. This time there was an issue, probably a confusion about what permits cover what load. The driver left unscathed for a short run to his delivery site and the officers made a note to have a ‘chat’ with the operator the following week.