Chain changes ahead

Owner Driver - - Behind The Wheel - Greg Bush

OC­TO­BER 1 IS THE DATE when the amended Heavy Ve­hi­cle Na­tional Law (HVNL) comes into play. At long last the onus will be on ev­ery­one in the sup­ply chain to have an obli­ga­tion to en­sure, as best as hu­manly pos­si­ble, that the truck driver and other road users can go about their busi­ness in a safe man­ner. The changes to the Chain of Re­spon­si­bil­ity (COR) laws will not start and stop with the driver, but will cover all par­ties, in­clud­ing oper­a­tors, sched­ulers, load­ing man­agers and con­signors. Un­for­tu­nately, it ap­pears that the driver will, as in the past, re­main the soft tar­get for road­side au­thor­i­ties.

If the driver breaches fa­tigue man­age­ment re­quire­ments or speed lim­its, they’re go­ing to cop an­other hefty fine. Cer­tainly, those fur­ther up the chain who place un­due pres­sure on driv­ers, forc­ing them to break the law, will have a case to an­swer. The changes also men­tion those whose busi­ness prac­tices, in­clud­ing load­ing and un­load­ing times, cause the driver to ex­ceed the speed limit will be li­able.

How­ever, it ap­pears the driver will still be on the re­ceiv­ing end when breaches of mass, di­men­sion or load­ing re­quire­ments are con­cerned. Sort of a guilty un­til proven in­no­cent sce­nario.

The an­nual Op­er­a­tion Aus­trans blitz is al­ways a big deal for state road au­thor­i­ties and the po­lice. It in­volves set­ting up camp on the side of the road and pulling over al­most ev­ery long-haul truck that comes their way.

I still have vivid mem­o­ries of one such in­ci­dent dur­ing a new truck test from Melbourne to Bris­bane up the Newell. The New South Wales Roads and Mar­itime Ser­vices, (RMS) plus mem­bers of the NSW Po­lice, swarmed over the truck, look­ing for some­thing ... any­thing. A dif­fi­cult task when at­tempt­ing to nit­pick over a brand new truck.

They paid no in­ter­est to the fact that a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the truck man­u­fac­turer as well as the video and pho­tog­ra­phy crew were parked nearby, wait­ing for the truck to be on its way. But the uni­formed of­fi­cers only had eyes for the truck driver.

Cer­tainly, there have been changes to the hi­er­ar­chy at the RMS, but whether the amended COR laws will mean a more level-headed ap­proach from road­side of­fi­cers re­mains to be seen.

Let’s hope that those driv­ers, who are at­tempt­ing to do the right thing, are able to avoid fines which can equal a week’s wages, and that the true of­fend­ers fur­ther up the sup­ply chain will bear the full brunt of the law.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.