One of the most frustrating issues for the trucking industry is getting pinged for not carrying the correct paper work in the correct form. Roadside enforcement can get pedantic about the letter of the law when checking permits etc and this will often lead to avoidable fines and unnecessary delays.
Yet again, this is one of the problems the introduction of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator was designed to alleviate. Over time we can expect the paper work requirements to be the same all over the country, but at the moment, what’s acceptable in one state is often not acceptable in another.
Aware of this problem, the NHVR have published a guide called the Carriage and Presentation of Documents. It is downloadable here.
In the bulletin, the NHVR go through some of the basics of what is needed and when. The Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) requires heavy vehicle drivers to carry certain documentation. Currently, the NHVR is working through the various rules as it tries to rationalise the whole permit and notice system.
According to the NHVR, when state based notices are made into national notices, it is unlikely that the requirement to carry the notice will be retained. When it comes to notices, the notice itself will specify whether a copy needs to be carried on board. A list of the notices which must be carried is on the NHVR website. www.nhvr.gov.au/notices
The other argument is about in which form the paperwork must be carried. There seems to be disconnect between the understanding at the top and the views of roadside officers. In fact, the NHVR Bulletin lays down the precise requirements.
A driver can present most documents in either a printed or electronic form. However, there is a list of documents which must always be available in a printed copy. These include a written work diary, NHVAS Interception Report Books and any documents where there is a specific requirement for a printed copy to be carried.
The rest can be carried electronically. There has been a degree of misunderstanding about just what form this electronic availability will take and, to a certain extent, this reflects some misunderstandings about the way electronic storage works.
Any document must be accessible directly on the tablet, laptop or e-reader the driver is carrying, note: a USB doesn’t count. It is is not acceptable for them to be available online and downloadable to the device. The enforcement officer needs to be able to see the documents even if the truck is in a remote area with no mobile coverage. Drivers need to clearly understand this issue and can get into trouble if the documents are not where they should be.
If there is one piece of advice which we can definitely take from all of this, it is this. Always carry a printed copy of the NHVR Bulletin on what documents you should be carrying, just to ensure the enforcing officer understands the situation!