It is always a stressful experience getting pulled in for a roadside check, but the relatively relaxed atmosphere gives a hint of the changes that the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has in train. Diesel News is standing under a bright South Australian sun at a hilltop weighing station just outside of Tailem Bend on the main Adelaide to Melbourne freight route, watching trucks coming into a weigh station to get the once over from the scalies.
The operation went to plan, with trucks warned by illuminated signs to pull into the westbound weigh-bridge to get weighed and checked. A steady flow came through with the standard procedure of a chat to the driver while asking for license and diary and then a thorough walk around of truck and trailer. There were no major incidents on this shift. A couple of drivers were advised of some minor issue with the way the diary had been filled out, but that was all.
The newer NHVR procedures did prove to be a little confusing for some drivers. In the past every truck would get pulled over here and a queue forms when drivers pull in without being signalled in. A couple more pulled over after the parking bay entrance thinking they had missed the signal to stop, not daring to be seen to be avoiding a check. All were sent on their way with little hassle.
Of course the smoothness of the operation could be put down to the presence of the editor of Australia’s premier truck and trailer magazine, and the team were on their best behaviour. However, the tenor of the proceedings ties in well with the way the NHVR has approached all of its initiatives. The emphasis has changed from forceful policing of the industry, to a desire to work with the industry.
“If there is a serious safety issue to be addressed, that will be hit hard, and the truck will be grounded,” emphasises Paul Simionato, NHVR Operations Manager in South Australia. “We will err on the side of caution when dealing with major offences, to ensure safety issues are immediately addressed, in particular when it comes to fatigue and roadworthiness matters. The majority of our compliance and enforcement activities involve education of both drivers and operators. However, education only goes so far. If we educate a driver today and for example three days later have to educate them for the same issue, well that’s a problem. You have been given an opportunity.”
It’s a delicate balance to maintain, but the NHVR needs to keep the law abiding majority of the trucking community on board to be effective in stamping down hard on the serial offenders. If this is how the roadside enforcement is going to play out in the future, both trucking and the NHVR are going to see improved outcomes.