Enforcement, Elections and the State of Our Roads

Getting the Wheel End Right

Topics covered this week in Diesel News include Enforcement, Elections and the State of Our Roads, as the year comes to a close.

Proposals to increase the enforcement and investigative powers for State and Territory law enforcement must come with ongoing training for law enforcement officers, according to NatRoad in its submission to the National Transport Commission.

Enforcement, Elections and the State of Our Roads

“The road transport industry throughout Australia already struggles with inconsistencies in how law enforcement officers interpret the prescriptive and complex  National Heavy Vehicle Law,” said Warren Clark, NatRoad CEO. “The intent of the proposed new powers is an important step to improving safety, particularly where evidence gathering could reveal early trends in a driver’s record or a business operations that could be leading towards a serious incident.

“Yet the proposed new power to investigate drivers and businesses raise a number of privacy issues  for businesses and individuals which need further consideration. In particular law enforcement officers should issue warnings to drivers and operators about their rights before exercising coercive powers.”

The sentiment was echoed in the Submission from the Australian Trucking Association, calling for investigative powers in the national truck law to be simplified and streamlined. ATA Chair, Noelene Watson released the ATA’s submission to the NTC review of the investigative and enforcement powers in the Heavy Vehicle National Law.

Enforcement, Elections and the State of Our Roads

“In the ATA’s view, the inconsistent investigative powers in the law will inevitably lead to confusion and challenges to the admissibility of evidence,” said Watson. “The problems created by these inconsistencies will only come to light fully when an injustice is done to someone in the industry or a prosecution fails because of technical legal issues. Neither outcome is acceptable to the ATA, so it needs to be fixed now.

“Our submission recommends that the information gathering powers in the HVNL should be simplified and streamlined. In addition, we recommend that all of the investigative powers in the law should be subject to a codified warning provision.”

Trucking operators can vote for their representatives on the General Council of the ATA in 2017. Owner drivers and the operators of small trucking fleets will go to the polls in early 2017 to elect two representatives on the General Council, one for owner/drivers and the other for small fleets.

Voter registrations will open January 18 2017 and candidate nominations will open on 25 January 2017. Nominations and voter registrations will both close on 22 February 2017.

“The ATA Council debates and sets our strategic policy direction, dealing with issues that impact our industry’s safety, professionalism and viability,” said Noelene Watson. “This election gives owner drivers and small fleet operators the opportunity to have a direct say in who will represent them and their issues on the ATA Council.”

To register to vote in the election, you must own, be purchasing or leasing 1-5 trucks over 4.5 tonnes. You will also need to provide a valid ABN and an email address that is unique to you. To nominate for one the positions, you must be registered to vote in the ATA election and be a member of an ATA member organisation.

To nominate for the owner driver position, you must own, be purchasing or leasing one truck over 4.5 tonnes and drive it. To nominate for the small fleet position, you must own, be purchasing or leasing 2 to 5 trucks over 4.5 tonnes.

Enforcement, Elections and the State of Our Roads

The state of the roads in Australia has come under scrutiny  in the Australian Roads Assessment Program (AusRAP) report. This has identified the Western Motorway from Concord to the M7 in NSW as the worst stretch of road in Australia’s National Highway Network.

AusRAP is an analysis of almost 21,000 kilometres of the National Highway Network using ‘Risk Mapping’, which measures the crash history of a stretch of road over its traffic volumes. The analysis was conducted for crash statistics between 2010 and 2014. A total of 15,627 casualty crashes and 927 deaths occurred on the National Highway Network over that period.

The best performing stretch of road in NSW was the Sturt Highway from Wagga to Narrandera.

Alarmingly, two major Sydney roads featured in the top 10 with the Hume Highway from the South Western Motorway to Narellan Rd ranked third worst road in Australia.

Notably, upgrades to the motorway conducted by the Australian and NSW Governments since 2014 are expected to see its performance improve.

“In a year that has seen a horrific increase in the road toll it is perhaps fitting that this report was released in time for Christmas by the NRMA and our sister clubs across Australia,” said Peter Khoury, an NRMA Spokesperson. “Motorists in NSW can take heart from the results of this report, because of the top 10 worst highways in NSW most, such as the Pacific Highway, Western Motorway and Great Western Highway, have upgrades underway, which will improve the safety of these roads and save lives.”