Bat­tling in ation

HVIA ex­perts dis­cuss COR and tyre main­te­nance

Australian Transport News - - Contents - WORDS ROB McKAY

HVIA ex­perts dis­cuss COR and tyre main­te­nance

The Na­tional Truck Ac­ci­dent Re­search Cen­tre’s (NTARC’s) lat­est crash data re­port makes a point of high­light­ing how few ma­jor ac­ci­dents in­volv­ing trucks are at­trib­ut­able to main­te­nance is­sues. The 2017 Ma­jorAc­ci­dent In­ves­ti­ga­tion Re­port says that just 3.5 per cent of the ma­jor loss claims used to col­late the re­port are shown to be me­chan­i­cally re­lated, and of those, half are due to tyre blow-outs or sim­i­lar.

By con­trast, the re­port at­tributes the great­est num­ber of ma­jor crashes to in­ap­pro­pri­ate speed.

Th­ese timely ob­ser­va­tions in­form a dis­cus­sion sur­round­ing new chain of re­spon­si­bil­ity (COR) pro­vi­sions in the Heavy Ve­hi­cle Na­tional Law (HVNL) sec­tion 26, which deals with the safety du­ties of par­ties in the chain.

If that all sounds a bit heavy to digest right now, it is worth per­sist­ing, given the threat of mas­sive fines and/or jail time that it im­poses.

Heavy Ve­hi­cle In­dus­try Aus­tralia

(HVIA) pol­icy and govern­ment re­la­tions man­ager Greg Forbes ex­plains the changes.

“Rather than the more pas­sive ap­proach af­ter an in­ci­dent oc­curs, of re­quir­ing a ‘rea­son­able steps’ de­fence, sec­tion 26C places a re­spon­si­bil­ity on en­ti­ties that are part of the chain to en­sure, ‘so far as is rea­son­ably prac­ti­cal’, the safety of the party’s trans­port ac­tiv­i­ties,” Forbes says.

“It also re­quires the en­tity pub­lic to elim­i­nate risks and, to the ex­tent that is not rea­son­ably prac­ti­cal to elim­i­nate pub­lic risks, to min­imise pub­lic risks.”

Un­der sec­tion 26D, the in­di­vid­ual ex­ec­u­tive of an en­tity is the fo­cus. An ex­ec­u­tive in­volved in a trans­port ac­tiv­ity must ex­er­cise due dili­gence to en­sure that the en­tity com­plies with the duty. The law goes on to state that due dili­gence in­cludes “tak­ing rea­son­able steps” to un­der­stand the haz­ards and risks. That in­cludes elim­i­nat­ing or min­imis­ing those risks by: • Gain­ing an un­der­stand­ing of the risks • Hav­ing and us­ing ap­pro­pri­ate re­sources • Hav­ing and im­ple­ment­ing pro­cesses • Re­ceiv­ing, con­sid­er­ing and re­spond­ing in a timely way to in­for­ma­tion about those haz­ards and risks.

An ex­ec­u­tive can be con­victed of an of­fence even if the com­pany, the le­gal en­tity, has not been pro­ceeded against for, or con­victed of, an of­fence re­lat­ing to the duty.

TYRES IN­FLA­TION AND MAIN­TE­NANCE

While the Ma­jor Ac­ci­dent In­ves­ti­ga­tion

Re­port does not sin­gle main­te­nance out as one of the ma­jor risks, it is nonethe­less an iden­ti­fied pub­lic risk and needs to be elim­i­nated or at least min­imised.

While the ca­sual ob­server might as­sume that the NTARC ac­ci­dent re­port in­di­cates that tyres are a se­condary is­sue, and that tyre in­fla­tion is an af­ter­thought, the sit­u­a­tion is more com­pli­cated when you look at it more closely.

The re­al­ity is that tyres play an im­por­tant role in every as­pect of a truck or trailer’s per­for­mance, as HVIA chief tech­ni­cal of­fi­cer Paul Caus ex­plains.

“The rub­ber hit­ting the road is the sin­gle most pow­er­ful, and eas­i­est to man­age, vari­able to any com­bi­na­tion’s per­for­mance,” Caus says. “When talk­ing about ve­hi­cle safety and per­for­mance, ref­er­ences to tyres and wheels are of­ten given short shrift.

“When analysing a com­bi­na­tion, peo­ple just as­sume that every wheel is equipped with the op­ti­mum tyre, with tread in op­ti­mum con­di­tion, in­flated to the op­ti­mum pres­sure for the load.”

For ex­am­ple, an en­gi­neer’s re­port ex­am­in­ing brake per­for­mance will sug­gest that th­ese fac­tors are all as­sumed to be “as per man­u­fac­turer’s spec­i­fi­ca­tions”, so the

“When talk­ing about ve­hi­cle safety and per­for­mance, ref­er­ences to tyres and wheels are of­ten given short shrift”

“The most sig­nif­i­cant in­di­rect ben­e­fit is han­dling”

re­port can move on to ad­dress­ing other per­for­mance fac­tors.

And fair enough, re­ally. Surely any fleet op­er­a­tor and driver will do ev­ery­thing in their power to take th­ese vari­ables out of the equa­tion?

In fact, the new COR leg­is­la­tion will make it one as­pect of the op­er­a­tor’s pri­mary duty to en­sure safe op­er­a­tion of the fleet.

“The tan­gi­ble and im­me­di­ate ben­e­fits of be­ing proac­tive with tyre man­age­ment in­clude the – usu­ally ir­re­sistible – fi­nan­cial ones, through mea­sur­able fuel sav­ings and re­duced tyre wear,” Caus adds.

“The most sig­nif­i­cant in­di­rect ben­e­fit how­ever, is han­dling. Recog­nis­ing and re­spond­ing to the dif­fer­ence that cor­rectly in­flated tyres make to main­tain­ing grip is fun­da­men­tal, first-base, prac­ti­cal logic.”

Of course, the vari­a­tion in han­dling per­for­mance is only height­ened by the con­di­tion of tyre tread; es­pe­cially where road con­di­tions vary un­ex­pect­edly, such as be­com­ing slip­pery on a turn or round­about due to grease, oils, wa­ter and/or ice.

The NTARC re­port clar­i­fies that the clas­si­fi­ca­tion of “in­ap­pro­pri­ate speed” ac­ci­dents does not im­ply speeds over the des­ig­nated speed limit, but ob­vi­ously still too fast to ne­go­ti­ate the corner, bend, round­about or other ma­noeu­vre in ques­tion given the load.

If a truck driver mis­judges a corner or bend re­sult­ing in an ac­ci­dent, then the records will show that in­ap­pro­pri­ate speed was the cause. The in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer can wrap up a re­port quickly and con­cisely, un­less there are ob­vi­ous con­tribut­ing fac­tors such as a tyre blowout or sur­face de­bris.

Mean­while, a deeper ex­plo­ration of the con­tribut­ing cir­cum­stances could ex­plore the mar­gin for er­ror – i.e. what fac­tors could have pre­vented the ac­ci­dent?

It might be, for in­stance, that with­out chang­ing any other fac­tors at all, re­duc­ing the ve­hi­cle’s speed by 10km/h would have guar­an­teed a suc­cess­ful ne­go­ti­a­tion of the turn.

What if the deep anal­y­sis also con­sid­ered op­ti­mum tyres, with op­ti­mum tyre pres­sure for the load? Then, per­haps, the mar­gin for er­ror might have im­proved enough to have avoided an ac­ci­dent al­to­gether.

Fac­tor­ing in the top three causes of ma­jor ac­ci­dents: in­ap­pro­pri­ate speed, driver er­ror or ac­ci­dents caused by a third party, and as­sum­ing the driver has some op­por­tu­nity to re­spond, their abil­ity to main­tain con­trol is cru­cial.

It makes for a com­pelling ar­gu­ment that all op­er­a­tors need to have in place a set of pro­ce­dures to en­sure that, not only are their wheels and tyres in good con­di­tion, but that they are cor­rectly in­flated for the load.

“In­cor­rect or in­suf­fi­cient tyre main­te­nance, in­clud­ing en­sur­ing tyres are cor­rectly in­flated, is one of the safety risks which fleet op­er­a­tors must man­age,” Forbes says. “When the role that tyre main­te­nance plays in over­all ve­hi­cle per­for­mance is con­sid­ered, the ar­gu­ment be­comes even more com­pelling.

“There are a num­ber of dif­fer­ent ways that this can be done, rang­ing from man­ual pro­ce­dures, to au­to­mated in- cab sys­tems that mon­i­tor and even ad­just tyre infl ation.”

Above: HVIA pol­icy and govern­ment re­la­tions man­ager Greg Forbes

Be­low: HVIA chief tech­ni­cal of­fi­cer Paul Caus

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