Re­sults of the Na­tional Heavy Ve­hi­cle Reg­u­la­tor (NHVR) Na­tional Road­wor­thi­ness Base­line Sur­vey show only 2 per cent of buses checked had ma­jor non-con­for­mi­ties

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Re­sults of the Na­tional Heavy Ve­hi­cle Reg­u­la­tor (NHVR) Na­tional Road­wor­thi­ness Base­line Sur­vey show only 2 per cent of buses checked had ma­jor non-con­for­mi­ties.

The NHVR co­or­di­nated a na­tion-wide sur­vey of 7130 heavy ve­hi­cle com­bi­na­tions across Aus­tralia be­tween Au­gust and Novem­ber last year but the re­sults have only just re­cently been re­leased.

Dur­ing the sur­vey pe­riod, 364 trans­port in­spec­tors in­spected rigid trucks, semi-trail­ers, B-dou­bles, road trains, buses and special purpose ve­hi­cles (SPV) at 168 in­spec­tion sites, in­clud­ing road­side check points, in state in­spec­tion fa­cil­i­ties, and trans­port op­er­a­tor de­pots.

The data clearly shows the buses and coaches that were in­spected were much more com­pli­ant with safety reg­u­la­tions than all other heavy ve­hi­cle types.

Only 147 of the 11,066 ve­hi­cles in­spected were grounded.

Ma­jor non-con­for­mi­ties cre­ate a crit­i­cal con­cern over the safety of a ve­hi­cle, which must not be used on the road while the fault ex­ists. When viewed on a ‘per unit’ ba­sis, non-freight ve­hi­cles (bus and coach) had the low­est rates of ma­jor non­con­for­mity.

The re­sults place Aus­tralia well when com­pared with the UK and US, who had sub­stan­tially higher rates of non-con­for­mity amongst their na­tional fleets.


Fed­eral Min­is­ter for In­fra­struc­ture and Trans­port Dar­ren Ch­ester says the re­sults of the sur­vey will pro­vide fur­ther fo­cus on in­spec­tion pro­grams and help mea­sure im­prove­ments in the me­chan­i­cal con­di­tion of the heavy ve­hi­cle fleet.

“As a base­line of the fleet’s con­di­tion, the sur­vey’s re­sults will help the NHVR de­velop a na­tional risk-based in­spec­tion ap­proach to ad­dress high-risk com­po­nents, sys­tems, ve­hi­cles and op­er­a­tors.

“It will also help de­velop a con­sis­tent in­spec­tion ap­proach.

“We’re work­ing in part­ner­ship with the NHVR, state gov­ern­ments, var­i­ous state or­gan­i­sa­tions, and with the heavy ve­hi­cle in­dus­try to re­duce road trauma.

“Th­ese sur­vey re­sults are a great tool for the NHVR to use to im­prove safety and ef­fi­ciency in the heavy ve­hi­cle sec­tor, which, of course, im­proves safety for all mo­torists.”

NHVR CEO Sal Petroc­citto says the sur­vey re­sults will al­low op­er­a­tors to up­date pro­grams to en­sure they ad­dress high-risk com­po­nents and sys­tems that are reg­u­larly found to be an is­sue dur­ing on-road in­spec­tions.

“The NHVR wanted to un­der­stand the rate of ma­jor non-con­for­mity,” Petroc­citto says.

“Where au­tho­rised of­fi­cers found ma­jor non-con­for­mi­ties, the ma­jor­ity were as­sessed as safe enough to con­tinue their jour­ney but re­quired re­pair within a spec­i­fied pe­riod of time.

“The rate of ma­jor non­con­for­mi­ties in the Aus­tralian fleet com­pared well to the UK, which had a 35 per cent ma­jor non-con­for­mity rate, and to the US, where about one-fifth of ve­hi­cles in­spected are grounded.

“How­ever, with the aver­age age of the fleet at nine years, re­duc­ing the rate of ma­jor non-con­for­mity in older ve­hi­cles will be an area of fo­cus.

“In­ter­est­ingly, we saw a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in main­te­nance per­for­mance for ve­hi­cles in the Na­tional Heavy Ve­hi­cle Ac­cred­i­ta­tion Scheme. It is pleas­ing to see that the scheme is de­liv­er­ing and con­tin­u­ing to demon­strate the value it pro­vides to fleet safety. It is ev­i­dence of the NHVR’s hard work in de­liv­er­ing im­prove­ments to the schemes op­er­a­tion.

“An­other first was the use of the Na­tional Heavy Ve­hi­cle In­spec­tion Manual to pro­vide na­tion­ally-con­sis­tent in­spec­tion stan­dards. “This con­sis­tency is some­thing

in­dus­try has asked for over many years and is a key ob­jec­tive of the Road­wor­thi­ness Pro­gram.

“I’d like to thank the 407 of­fi­cers who worked 1049 shifts across 237 in­spec­tion sites through­out Aus­tralia to de­liver this im­por­tant na­tional safety ini­tia­tive.”


Na­tional Heavy Ve­hi­cle Reg­u­la­tor (NHVR) spokesper­son Peter Austin pointed out that the na­tional bus fleet is highly com­pli­ant, com­pared to freight trucks, while speak­ing at the Bus In­dus­try Con­fed­er­a­tion Na­tional Tech­ni­cal and Sup­pli­ers Sum­mit in Can­berra way back in Fe­bru­ary.

As it turns out, his state­ments are ac­cu­rately re­flected in the fi­nal sur­vey that was re­leased at the end of May this year.

“What we did with the Na­tional Base­line Sur­vey has never been done across the ju­ris­dic­tion,” he ex­plains.

“We made sure we got a rep­re­sen­ta­tive sam­ple of the en­tire ve­hi­cle fleet and there is no preva­lence of ma­jor de­fects within the na­tional bus and coach fleet.

“We will have a we­bi­nar after the re­lease of the sur­vey that will al­low us to talk to in­dus­try about what we should do mov­ing for­ward.

“The buses we tested per­formed very well; the aver­age age of the buses we tested was 9.8 years.”

The largest area of fault the NHVR found while con­duct­ing its sur­vey test­ing on buses was re­lated to brakes.

“We need to make sure that our re­sponses are based on the level of risk and we need to make sure that we are be­ing con­sis­tent in terms of our in­spec­tions,” Austin says. “We are still look­ing at post-July 2018 when we can im­ple­ment rec­om­men­da­tions that come from the base­line sur­vey, so we’re still in the early stages. In the fu­ture we do want to conduct more base­line sur­veys.”

The NHVR now plans to tar­get its reg­u­lar sched­uled and ran­dom road­side in­spec­tions based on the per­ceived level of risk through­out the rest of this year.

The sur­vey will be used to de­velop pro­grams us­ing ev­i­dence and risk-based anal­y­sis of the sur­vey data.

Two such ap­proaches will be a riskbased in­spec­tion and a con­sis­tent in­spec­tion frame­work.

There is also work be­ing un­der­taken in the NHVR’s Road­wor­thi­ness Pro­gram to de­velop a na­tional ap­proach to the man­age­ment and clear­ance of de­fects.

Above: NHVR spokesper­son Peter Austin says the bus and coaches in­spected rarely had ma­jor non­con­for­mi­ties

Be­low: A breakdown by heavy ve­hi­cle type

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