Let’s hope October 1 2018 becomes an historic date for the trucking industry. If it works out as hoped, the day will be the point at which genuine responsibility was taken in ensuring there was no undue pressure forcing truck drivers to break the rules to get freight delivered. The day the chain of responsibility started to work properly.
A chain which works properly is what we all want. It takes us to a place where there is no excuse for running a truck at dangerous speeds, driving past the point where fatigue becomes an issue, or operating a truck on the highway on which safety has been compromised.
I am not holding my breath waiting for the perfect CoR to appear, magically, before me. Being realistic, the best we can hope for is a chain which works better than it has in the fifteen or so years it has been in existence.
The thing which will give the chain back some credibility, is when there are big companies prosecuted for their systems being set out in such a way to force truckies to spend too long on the road or to run in, what is regarded as, a dangerous manner.
What we need to see is someone getting dragged over the coals for running their faciltiy in such a way which, despite working well for its own business, puts inappropriate pressure on companies supplying goods or collecting them. The site owners need to feel pressured by the law to ensure they are being considerate to the drivers who deliver and load at its facilities.
The factors which will decide if we have a real CoR or continue as we have in the past will rest on how well the rules have been written and whether the big boys can work out a way to duck their real responsibilities and carry on as usual. One of the advantages of contracting work out to other businesses is to remove liability from your business onto another business. The CoR rules should be designed to ensure the buck cannot be passed in that way.
The trucking industry is full of business relationships in which one side has much more market power than the other. We have giant global multinationals dealing with small family businesses. Who do you think is able to hire the more expensive lawyer? Who is likely to lose their business if something goes wrong?
If the latest changes mean a lot of this power imbalance is rectified then there is a chance some real safety gains can be had. If not, it’s back to the same-old same-old.
Another deciding factor will be how the enforcement of the new rules plays out, especially early on. If the intelligence gathering has been effective then the the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator will already know where some of the weak points are and be able to mount an investigation into current dodgy practices early doors.
What’s most likely to happen? It will probably be just like the ‘curate’s egg’, good in. parts. Is that the desirable result? No, but it is likely to be much better than the current situation where the power imbalance goes completely unchecked.