Yet again, this week we see the lives of the trucking community being made more complicated by people in government offices laying down silly rules , but without clarity or explanation. Yes, we are back again with the wonderful Roads and Maritime Services of New South Wales and the low loader license debacle.
It’s not just me who is being confused by the RMS. This week the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator put out their weekly Industry Update and it featured a short piece warning low loader drivers in NSW to make sure they hold an MC license, if they are driving with a low loader dolly between the prime mover and the low loader trailer.
This rule was brought in by the RMS earlier this year, but after trucking industry protest was suspended for six months and just warnings were issued to those driving the combinations on an HC license. These drivers are highly skilled and have been able to ply their trade with this license for their entire career up until September 30 2015, when the fine regime was brought in.
This change is just for NSW, the rest of rational Australia considers the combination to be an HC vehicle. The truck drives like an ordinary semi and the skills required can be gained on a semi, albeit these combinations run at higher masses.
What about drivers of these low loader dollies with licenses from other states who are driving on NSW roads? This is the issue. The NHVR update told us interstate drivers in NSW also needed to hold an MC license, or risk the $637 fine for first offence and $1275 for any subsequent ones. However, this isn’t true, the rule only applies to NSW license holders. Those from Queensland, Victoria etc are able to drive the trucks on their HC license.
Luckily, someone at the NHVR picked up on the error quick smart, and the corrected email arrived a couple of hours later. This may be a simple error, but if you go to the RMS website, you can see how it could be easily made. The page dealing with this issue is deliberately vague, as if it set out to increase the confusion among heavy haulage operators.
Nowhere in the whole explanation does it mention the requirement to hold an MC license is only for NSW licenses. Check it out here. No wonder someone at the NHVR, putting together the newsletter, got the wrong end of the stick.
The question we have to ask ourselves is why? It is why, on a number of counts:
Why, during a period when the priority is to align the heavy vehicle rules nationally, do you introduce a deliberately confusing rule to increase the difference between the states?
Why is it the drivers from Victoria, South Australia and Queensland are capable of safely driving a truck using a low loader dolly on the roads of NSW on just an HC license, but those licensed by NSW are only safe on NSW roads if qualified to MC level?
Why would you bother to put up a long winded explanation on your website explaining this rule in full, with a nice paragraph about the fines you can expect to pay, and then forget to mention it only applies to those truck drivers licensed in NSW and driving on NSW roads?
Thanks, once again, to the RMS for their services to obfuscation!