When is a dolly not a dolly?

The NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) have stirred up a hornets nest with the heavy haulage industry in the past few weeks. At a time when the rules for the trucking industry are being integrated into a single set of rules, the roadside enforcement in NSW are now warning drivers of single trailer low loaders with dollies that an MC license is required to drive the truck, not an HC.


This particular interpretation of the rules appears to fly in the face of the way this rule is being enforced in the rest of Australia and also in the way it was enforced in NSW until recently. The RMS appear to have taken legal advice and found it is possible to demand the driver of a low loader, which uses a dolly between the truck turntable and the trailer, must have a MC license.


The legislation states in Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria that low loaders with low loader dollies will be deemed the same as semi trailers, in terms of license requirements.


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The RMS decided to change the way the roadside enforcement deal with low loaders without warning the trucking industry.


“We have not been included in any discussion on this position, and have not been given any information from RMS to communicate to our members,” said the ATA NSW, in a letter to the RMS complaining about the change. “We find this situation untenable, given we have had numerous meetings with RMS in the past that have provided ample opportunity and invitation to discuss this matter.”


Since this letter was sent, ATA NSW has reported the results of a meeting with the people at RMS. The NSW authorities will not back down from the change in interpretation and insist an MC license is needed if the combination includes a low loader dolly.


Any drivers using the HC license will be issued with an official warning, which will be recorded. They will then be allowed to drive ‘after being assessed as sufficiently experienced’. Further warnings will be issued if the driver is stopped again. However, in the end the driver will have to upgrade to an MC or face a penalty.


The RMS appear to have decided to take this course of action without consultation either with the industry or other authorities around Australia. Yet again, the state has decided to unilaterally change the rules for the trucking industry all over Australia by default. If this rule is applied in NSW, it will affect most of the low loader industry, as they will travel through NSW on a large proportion of their journeys.


This is yet another blow to the effort being put in to create a truly uniform national set of regulations for the trucking industry. As the process continues to bring road rules and roadside enforcement under one umbrella in the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, one state chooses to come up with issues like this to hinder the project.