Fatal truck crashes in recent times have concentrated attention on the assessment and maintenance of heavy trucks. The National Transport Commission and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator are going through a process of developing how roadworthiness will work in the future. They are now asking industry for its feedback and suggestions on how to improve roadworthiness outcomes.
The first phase of the process was the release of a report outlining the issues. This concluded the situation was far from ideal and left a lot to be desired. See the Diesel News report at the time.
“At this stage, data collection methods do not yield sufficient, reliable data to reach a conclusive determination about whether the NHVAS provides an effective mechanism for achieving road safety outcomes relative to its objectives,” said the report.
This week the NTC and NHVR have released the second of the two reports on Australia’s current roadworthiness systems.
“We’ve now completed the second step in the four-stage process of this program,” said Paul Retter, NTC CEO. “The NTC and NHVR have identified areas for short-term and long-term potential reforms. We’re now calling for submissions from industry and the community on the best way to improve heavy vehicle roadworthiness and make our nation’s roads safer.”
The second phase report identifies a number of improvements needed:
A clear definition of roadworthiness
Better education and training, particularly in relation to operators’ responsibilities
Chain of responsibility duties designed to improve the roadworthiness of heavy vehicles
A standardised ‘second party’ inspection system
Clearer arrangements for when and how defects are issued, and cleared
Robust accreditation and safety management systems, particularly to strengthen the NHVAS audit system
At this stage the NTC and NHVR need expert submissions to get feedback on how these aims can be reached. The trucking industry’s workshops are filled with people with hands on experience with both trucks and the, sometimes, unworkable accreditation systems. They will have to work with any new system which emerges and need to put ideas up for scrutiny now before the bureaucrats tie the trucking industry up in even more ineffective red tape.
“Release of these reports is a springboard to the next and possibly most critical stage of the Roadworthiness Program, where we consult with industry and start to shape recommendations based on industry feedback,” said Sal Petroccitto.
“I encourage anyone interested in better safety outcomes for the heavy vehicle industry to take the time to read the reports and get involved. Road safety professionals and transport company fleet managers should particularly study the concepts of ‘defence in depth’ which are presented in this paper as a model for assessing the integrity of the current national roadworthiness system.”
Feedback will be included in the Regulatory Impact Statement for consideration by Australia’s transport ministers, to be put forward in November. This will be followed by further consultation before the final changes are made to the current regime.
Submissions must be in by September 26, following which there will be national consultation on the final proposed improvements and changes.