In September, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) was concentrating on fatigue with Operation Wake-Up. It included officers from Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and even Western Australia, plus three police agencies, working with NHVR to validate the National Camera Network and the National Information System. For the first time, officers could see the movement of trucks across the country.
There were over 5,000 intercepts and, when a truck was pulled up, an officer could go into the system and track where the truck had been, they may have been picked on a camera somewhere. The exercise showed compliant trucks were only held up for a short time for a full check, whereas non-compliant trucks were held up longer.
2018 will see the rollout of the National Compliance Information System (NCIS), linked to the camera network. This is all part of an ongoing process of capturing more and more data on trucks and freight movement to improve the ability of the regulator to target problem areas. Data from the camera network will be integrated with data from and on enforcement officers’ tablets, all linked into the central data banks at the NHVR for further analysis.
“The industry shouldn’t see this as a threat,” says Sal Petroccitto, NHVR CEO. “It’s a positive – delivering what we’ve always wanted, a single entity with a single approach. Those that aren’t as compliant will need to be a bit more cautious, but the operators who do well, and we know there’s a lot of them, should be unaffected.
“Link that to the new provisions coming in under CoR and they give an opportunity to investigate and analyse and bring it all into one holistic piece. The piecemeal environment we have come from is slowly starting to come together.”
The roll out of electronic work diaries is coming in 2018. There is still not a clear picture of what an EWD is going to look like and the likely industry uptake of the new technology is uncertain. Many large trucking operation already have a form of EWD, but whether the system fits the requirements of the new rules and whether the enforcement around the new technology is practicable? These are the questions yet to be asked.
“How do we provide technology which collects information, but doesn’t create barriers?” says Sal. “The one thing we have been adamant about is we shouldn’t stifle creativity. We should provide the frameworks and criteria to allow the industry to respond. As a regulator, we shouldn’t dictate a type of outcome. We should say, this is the outcome we are seeking.”
A further practical move has been the discussion around the proposed Personal Use Exemption Notice. This should allow drivers to use a solo prime mover for personal transport needs outside of the driving hours regulations, in order to get to food, washing facilities etc.
“While there might be some concerns we are encouraging more driving hours,” says Sal. “No, what we are saying is the industry has demonstrated to us the need for some flexibility. How do we provide that flexibility to allow them to go down the road to get a proper meal or do their laundry?
“For me this is about how we, as a regulator, are responsive to the requirements of the industry, but not compromising on safety. Now, if a particular driver does that and then gets back in the truck, hitches the trailer up and heads off down the road, if we have a camera network, we are going to see them.”
With Victoria and Queensland adopting a ‘suck-it-and-see’ approach to transitioning across to NHVR enforcement, the process of those states becoming fully integrated is probably a couple of years off from completion. It looks more than likely most intercepts of trucks will be carried out by an NHVR operative by then.
Changes to registration systems is part of the future program. From July 2018, there is expected to be a National Registration Plate available and a national system on which operators will be able to have visibility of their whole fleet, no matter where vehicles are registered. A single registration system is not on the agenda, at the moment.
While there are still plenty of loose ends to be tied off and some major projects still to come, there is a consistent picture of a future NHVR taking real shape now. Whether we like this picture or not, it is going to be a reality and will become more visible with NHVR uniformed officers on the roadside.