The fu­ture of reg­u­la­tion

Part one of a two-part se­ries ex­am­in­ing cur­rent heavy ve­hi­cle reg­u­la­tion and what’s on the hori­zon

Owner Driver - - Safety Accelerator - Daniel Elkins

RE­CENT AT­TEN­TION re­gard­ing heavy ve­hi­cle com­pli­ance and en­force­ment ac­tiv­i­ties begs the ques­tion as to who is lead­ing these reg­u­la­tory ap­proaches. With se­ri­ous road trauma (se­ri­ous in­jury and death) on the rise, where are in­dus­try and the com­mu­nity to find the an­swers?

Heavy ve­hi­cle road safety is, at present, in­co­he­sive. Where is this lead­er­ship and in which reg­u­la­tory agency?

There are many fac­tors at play here, more than just the ac­tions (or in­ac­tions) of reg­u­la­tors to ad­e­quately reg­u­late and create a safer in­dus­try.

An ex­plo­sion of tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tion, cou­pled with in­creased eco­nomic growth and in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment, as well as our ma­jor cities ex­pe­ri­enc­ing mil­lion-per­son pop­u­la­tion growth over the next 10 years, will see mas­sive transformation in the in­dus­try.

How are reg­u­la­tors po­si­tioned to im­prove safety out­comes within in­dus­try and for the broader com­mu­nity with such dra­matic change on the hori­zon?


The Aus­tralian trans­port task will dou­ble by 2030. With the ad­di­tional im­pe­tus of sub­stan­tial gov­ern­ment in­vest­ment and a seem­ingly good out­look for eco­nomic growth, the de­mand for more heavy ve­hi­cles will be sig­nif­i­cant.

What strate­gies are in place in reg­u­la­tory agen­cies to as­sist in­dus­try in be­ing more pro­duc­tive while re­duc­ing road trauma?

No heavy ve­hi­cle reg­u­la­tory agency has a pub­lished com­pli­ance and en­force­ment pol­icy or strat­egy. This is de­spite the Na­tional Heavy Ve­hi­cle Reg­u­la­tor (NHVR) es­pous­ing to achieve "a uni­fied strat­egy and ap­proach" in this space.

It was un­uni­fied and un­co­or­di­nated when two sep­a­rate op­er­a­tions, each tout­ing to be the big­gest and best in Aus­tralian heavy ve­hi­cle en­force­ment his­tory, were con­ducted within weeks of one an­other. It is still not clear why, what and how these op­er­a­tions achieved re­duc­tions in road trauma. No agency has yet to ad­vise in­dus­try of any such out­comes, just the non-con­form­ity re­sults.

Op­er­a­tion Shield men­tioned that it formed part of the ‘NHVR Safety Pro­gram’.

A quick search of the NHVR’s web­site turns up few clues about the pro­gram. The clos­est things are the Heavy Ve­hi­cle Safety Ini­tia­tives. This se­ries of ‘safety’ projects is dis­tribut­ing $3.8 mil­lion in an­nual fund­ing from the de­funct Road

Safety Re­mu­ner­a­tion Tri­bunal (RSRT). There is no clear doc­u­men­ta­tion as to how these projects will con­trib­ute to re­duc­ing road trauma. There is no vis­i­ble doc­u­ment that de­scribes how the NHVR will ad­dress safety and com­pli­ance in the heavy ve­hi­cle in­dus­try. This is de­spite a com­mit­ment in April 2015 to pro­duce such plans.1

In 2016, the NHVR pro­duced two

doc­u­ments: Strate­gic Di­rec­tions 2016 and Setting the Agenda 2016-2020. Nei­ther doc­u­ment sets tar­gets to re­duce road trauma, nor the mea­sures (met­rics) or per­for­mance in­di­ca­tors it would use to “en­sure the in­tended out­comes are de­liv­ered and they con­trib­ute to the con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment in safety and pro­duc­tiv­ity ben­e­fits”.2

At present we have no way of un­der­stand­ing how the NHVR has con­trib­uted to re­duc­ing road trauma or im­prov­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity in the heavy ve­hi­cle in­dus­try. What is the rel­e­vance of all this to the heavy ve­hi­cle in­dus­try?

It is at the heart of key val­ues that reg­u­la­tors es­pouse – trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity – but more than that it is about good reg­u­la­tory man­age­ment and im­prov­ing road safety.

By pub­lish­ing a com­pli­ance and en­force­ment pol­icy and strat­egy, which details how reg­u­la­tors will re­spond to breaches of the law, it pro­vides in­dus­try with cer­tainty and con­sis­tency in the ac­tions taken when breaches are dis­cov­ered. It also makes it clear what reg­u­la­tors con­sider to be safety pri­or­i­ties. Most im­por­tantly, it iden­ti­fies how these ac­tions will re­duce road trauma.

Be­cause if com­pli­ance and en­force­ment ac­tiv­ity is not re­duc­ing road trauma, why it is be­ing un­der­taken?


Heavy ve­hi­cle reg­u­la­tors are faced with sev­eral is­sues about how to ad­dress pro­duc­tiv­ity and road trauma.

What are some of the other is­sues they need to deal with from the ex­pected growth in the in­dus­try?

Road­wor­thi­ness and ve­hi­cle stan­dards: de­ter­min­ing a ve­hi­cle’s com­pli­ance to the ve­hi­cle stan­dards is an im­por­tant fac­tor in as­sist­ing re­duc­ing the risk of me­chan­i­cal fail­ure caus­ing road trauma. Knowing which safety-crit­i­cal items re­quire at­ten­tion and that those items are com­pli­ant is vi­tally im­por­tant for road safety.

The Na­tional Heavy Ve­hi­cle In­spec­tion Man­ual pro­vides a pass/fail cri­te­ria against the ve­hi­cle stan­dards. There are sev­eral tech­nolo­gies that the man­ual does not cater for or pro­vide a means of assess­ing if these items are func­tion­ing cor­rectly. This is par­tic­u­larly rel­e­vant if they have been tam­pered with or, in some in­stances, dis­con­nected. Anti-lock and elec­tronic brake sys­tems and elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trols are some ex­am­ples.

Most of these de­vices have in-cab sen­sors that are checked to iden­tify if they are, in fact, work­ing. These sys­tems can be by­passed and there is no cur­rent pro­ce­dure to de­ter­mine if they are func­tion­ing with­out ac­cess­ing the ve­hi­cles en­gine man­age­ment sys­tem.

How will they be as­sessed dur­ing a heavy ve­hi­cle in­spec­tion or at the road­side dur­ing an in­ter­cept?

Are en­force­ment agen­cies equipped with the right tools and trained how to in­spec­tion mod­ern ve­hi­cles?

It is now pos­si­ble to dig­i­tally print parts from your desk­top com­puter. The third in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion en­com­passes 3D dig­i­tally (ad­di­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing) printed me­chan­i­cal parts us­ing plas­tic or ny­lon­based and met­allised ma­te­ri­als.

Al­though Aus­tralia has no laws gov­ern­ing the use of af­ter­mar­ket me­chan­i­cal parts, there are leg­isla­tive re­quire­ments they be ‘fit-for-pur­pose’.

Parts supplied by orig­i­nal equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers have un­der­gone ex­ten­sive test­ing to ver­ify they com­ply with Aus­tralian and in­ter­na­tional stan­dards. With the ad­vent of dig­i­tally printed parts, how are reg­u­la­tors and in­dus­try go­ing to ad­dress their use in heavy ve­hi­cles?

It is un­likely 3D dig­i­tally printed parts will be la­belled or stamped. In some in­stances, these stamps ver­ify the parts com­pli­ance to par­tic­u­lar stan­dards.

Printed parts could range from wheel nuts through to more com­plex items such as in­ter­nal en­gine parts or tow cou­plings. These all can be safety-crit­i­cal items that should have the high­est man­u­fac­ture and in-ser­vice com­pli­ance stan­dards. The NHVR is yet to pub­lish details from the Na­tional Heavy Ve­hi­cle Road­wor­thi­ness Pro­gram to ad­vise in­dus­try what it deems to be safety-crit­i­cal items and which ve­hi­cles should be the fo­cus of fu­ture com­pli­ance ac­tiv­ity.

The Na­tional Road­wor­thi­ness Base­line Sur­vey was pub­lished in June 2017 and there is no di­rec­tion as to when a na­tional in­spec­tion regime will be de­vel­oped and how it will change the in­spec­tion of heavy ve­hi­cles. Pro­vid­ing this guid­ance to in­dus­try could as­sist the de­vel­op­ment of more-ef­fec­tive vol­un­tary main­te­nance and in­spec­tion pro­cesses. It should move com­pli­ance and en­force­ment away from ran­dom road­side in­ter­cepts to tar­geted cam­paigns that fo­cus clearly on risk and de­liver pre­cise road safety out­comes.

“It should move com­pli­ance and en­force­ment away from ran­dom road­side in­ter­cepts.”

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