We have a arrived at a fortunate moment in the development of a truly responsible trucking industry. There is an opportunity to make a real difference and change the paradigm in the way road transport is run and policed. Get it wrong and we will return to the dark ages, get it right and there can be some real gains.
The situation at the moment sees the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator with enough credibility with the Transport Ministers in the States and Canberra to be able to try and drive some real effective change. It has the momentum, for now, to get some of the recalcitrant states and their delaying tactics, put back in their box.
This window of opportunity is relatively small, anything could happen to delay the process and an anti-trucking government after the election could end any initiatives very quickly. However, window it is, there is an agreed-to consensus between the ministers and a process to which they have committed.
If the stars get aligned correctly, we could end up with a smorgasbord of delights. A national vehicle registration scheme, a national driving license, consistent testing standards across most of the country, a credible roadworthiness regime and , the holy grail, consistent roadside enforcement.
Now the chances of all of our christmases coming at once are pretty low, but if the ground is prepared carefully enough, and some reform momentum gets going, we could get some real results.
One of those opportunities to prepare the ground properly is the integration of accreditation schemes into a national context. The Australian Trucking Association is set to announce new accreditation standards for TruckSafe at its conference next month.
These have been developed to meet the criteria laid out by the NHVR as to what a credible road worthiness guarantee should look like. If the changes achieve their aim, then TruckSafe will finally achieve the standing in regulation it thought it had achieved nearly twenty years ago before being rebuffed and countered by the less comprehensive National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme.
Credibility is now in short supply for the NHVAS these days, since the Mona Vale crash, so now is the time to get into the picture with a credible parallel scheme to run alongside whatever the NHVAS morphs into during the current reform process.
This is the opportunity for TruckSafe to become what its original founders dreamed it would become, a gold standard for how to run a fleet of truck safely and responsibly. If the politicians can be shown a scheme which has the credibility to make the statistics go the right way and improve the public image of trucking, they will be willing to publicly defend such a scheme.
Credibility comes from the scheme being seen to work properly and comprehensively. We do not need an old shitter sitting in the queue to load at Botany with a TruckSafe sticker on the door, of a truck clearly not compliant.
Once we get to the situation where the politicians can be a relatively secure most of the trucking industry is working to make the roads safe, then they may give in to pressure to agree to the rest of the industry’s wishlist.