NatRoad Says Vehicle Standards Must Meet Driver Needs

The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) today provided the National Transport Commission with a comprehensive submission about heavy vehicle standards and safety.

CEO of NatRoad Warren Clark said, ”In the submission, we have emphasised that vehicle standards must reflect current market conditions, up-to-date safety measures and be accessible and transparent.  These principles should be translated into how technical standards for heavy vehicles are developed. That way they will be more supportive of driver and operator needs.

“Rather than focusing on these specific criteria, the current law is deficient because compliance is centred on prescriptive, offence based HVNL requirements.  Meeting these requirements does not necessarily equate with being safe.

We also focus on how vehicle standards should accommodate the safety of drivers by taking into account human factors. In the submission we urge a change in dimensions of width and length.

“The issue of length, particularly length to 20 metres for general access, is vital to make sure the additional space is utilised to accommodate a larger sleeping berth.  Driver comfort with appropriate rest should be given a priority in the design requirements of heavy vehicles.

“In the submission, we also argue for greater attention on faster and more efficient approval for high-performance vehicles.  Relatedly, there does not appear to be a government priority in putting in place road networks for Performance-Based Standards (PBS) Vehicles. PBS vehicles carry freight more efficiently and are safer than other vehicles in the heavy vehicle fleet.  The rules relating to PBS vehicles must reflect these factors.

 “We also asked the NTC to compare the range of prescriptive, pedantic offences with the new law that came into force from 1 October 2018.

“From that date, the primary duty established by s26C HVNL is to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety of the party’s transport activities relating to a heavy vehicle.  The large number of prescriptive, harsh offences that still populate the HVNL should be culled as they undermine the intent of this broader duty.  That is because the current offences often focus on behaviour that is not unsafe as with the example of a minor, inadvertent escape of material from a load, which is an automatic offence under the law.

“NatRoad looks forward to continuing to assist the NTC in this vital review,” Clark concluded.

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Note to editors: View the NatRoad submission on https://www.natroad.com.au/resources/natroad-submission-ntc-issues-paper-vehicle-standards-and-safety