This is one of those occasions when I would rather not be able to say, ‘I told you so!’ but, unfortunately, no sooner had last week’s opinion page appeared than one of the problems discussed reared its ugly head and the trucking industry is back banging its head against a brick wall.
In last week’s Diesel News we said, in the story comparing Australia with Mexico http://www.dieselnews.com.au/not-setting-the-world-on-fire, ‘Every week there is some state bureaucrat shoving another stick into the spokes, to make some self-interested point along the way’.
The stick this week has been wielded by the usual suspect, New South Wales’ Roads and Maritime Services, everybody’s favourite RMS. Right in the middle of the difficult and lengthy process of creating a single national law for the trucking industry on our roads, the RMS decide to start a campaign which is at odds with practice in the rest of Australia, but also at odds with their own practice up until Christmas.
The ridiculous decision to stop low loader drivers and check their driving licenses in order to tell them they need an MC license to drive, what is essentially, a semi, beggars belief. Changing the way low loaders are regulated without telling anyone in advance suggests this act was designed to upset interested parties for some strategic reason. What that reason could be, we will leave that to your imagination.
If you, as a responsible regulator, reckon there is reason to be concerned about the skill set of drivers handling low loaders which have to use a low loader dolly to spread the weight across more axles at the front of the trailer, then tell someone about it. There may be cause for concern, there are a lot of very big and very loads out there on inadequate roads. (Far be it for me to suggest the RMS or Transport for NSW has anything to do with this inadequacy).
Legitimate concerns can be raised and the trucking industry engaged, along with the other states, who are part of this elusive single national system. A measured approach could have been taken, everyone should agree on an increase in safety and competency among those in the industry. NSW could have got an improved safety outcome and everyone would have been happy, even if it didn’t mean low loader drivers needing an MC license.
It’s not like NSW doesn’t have a track record of these unilateral acts arriving on everyone’s doorstep without prior discussion. The virtual national mandating of electronic stability systems on all hazardous chemical tankers by the NSW Environmental Protection Agency being a recent case in point. The ramifications of that one will be playing out over the next few years!
The questions for the trucking industry are twofold. Firstly, how long do we have until all of our drivers, who handle low loaders with dollies, have to hold an MC? Secondly, how long is it going to be before we get some real national heavy vehicle rules and a system strong enough to tell the rogue elements in enforcement in NSW to get back in their box?