There’s a lot going on in the regulation and legislation space in the next few years and the trucking industry will need to heed the clarion call to Engage, Engage, Engage! Unless, of course, we want to repeat the mistakes of the past and carry on the way we have for the past forty years.
The next few years are an unprecedented opportunity to get things right for a change. There are a number of good influences all coming together at the same time. To roll out an over-used phrase, we are going to have a ‘perfect storm’ of new rules and regulations affecting everything we do over the next few years.
The list is quite long and all of the elements of the changes are at different stages of development. The list on the desk of Sal Petroccitto at the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) is certainly longer. He is probably best advised to drip feed the changes one by one, for fear of scaring the horses.
The changes to chain of responsibility (CoR) are pretty much done and dusted. There’s not a lot we can do about the new rules, but there is a need to ask for clarification after clarification on how the trucking industry can cope with the changes. It is vital to keep asking the questions and acting on the answers. It’s the only way to get it to work, and see the real culprits under pressure – those further up and down the chain.
One that seemed to come out of nowhere and then take a long time to reach any kind of conclusion was the roller brake testing criteria. The standards seemed straightforward enough, but getting a workable regime involved the Roads and Maritime Services in New South Wales coming on board, and that has never been an easy task.
This issue illustrates another way in which the industry needs to engage the authorities. The trucking industry wants to be able to deal with one authority across Australia, enforcing one set of rules and using one set of standards. This will not happen unless we continually push for it to be so. Operators in the West and the Territory may not agree, but at least the rest of us can. The NHVR will keep getting resistance from the states and an engaged trucking industry can help with the process.
There’s more to come – a national access system with permits and permissions granted consistently across the board. This must be easy to use both for the operator, but also the road managers. The series of notices the NHVR has managed to get up is a good start and we need more of them ASAP. Pressure from trucking, at a local, state and federal level, is going to help the process.
The nirvana of a nationally consistent classification of both truck configurations and the roads themselves may be some way off. Once something is properly in place a lot of other inconsistency issues will go away. Trucking needs to engage at every level to get closer to the goal.
The subject of ‘road worthiness’ came into play after the Mona Vale tanker incident. The chain of events continues to play out with some form of reform to the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme (NHVAS), but it is still unclear what we will end up with and whether it will be much better than it was before. More engagement required!
A trucking industry code of practice is in development, there’s another fatigue research process coming down the pike as well and national licensing of drivers should rock up at some point.