Further up the chain
Regulations imposed by the ignorant bureaucracy are placing further stress on the industry
CHAIN OF RESPONSIBILITY! Industry associations – or the private sector bureaucracy are all full of energy responding to their public sector comrades’ new improved version of the chain of responsibility regulations. I just can’t get my mind around why the business sector has to be so very concerned with chain of responsibility when the public sector is never expected to be held responsible for anything. Those poor gullible souls who have taken the time to read my warbling know I am disgusted by the psychological stress put upon truckies through the enforcement of non-researched and presumption-based regulations imposed by the public bureaucracy on the drivers and operators of this industry.
In days gone by when NatRoad was arguing to achieve a better position economically on the national front, when it was pushing to have the principle of one nation, one regulation adopted, when it was arguing in support of the adoption of what is now the mistermed National Regulator, it publicly claimed that compliance stress had attendant health risks. And it claimed that such health risks had no quantifiable economic impact.
How does one judge the impact of the driver shortage on economic grounds? For years industry drivers have been harassed with constant enforcement of inappropriate regulation, particularly in New South Wales.
So why does NSW head the list on accident figures? In view of NatRoad’s earlier stated concern, why is it so silent on the need for the public sector to demonstrate some degree of responsibility?
A National Regulator that puts more effort into devising schemes that it calls highproductivity vehicles than it does into efforts to progress its core mandate – efficiency and balance into the national transport task. It seems to have time for every thought wave that happens.
The latest gem? Dob in a truckie. How many prank calls will this encourage? What guarantee will there be that the ‘dobber’ is genuine; knows what he or she is talking about or whether the caller might have some axe to grind against the accused? Or a desire to win over the accused’s contract?
I have a personal view that one major transport operator has been sent to the financial wall through the failure of bureaucracy to follow due and proper and just process. I know of another organisation that has been slandered publicly by bureaucracy but the owners were adamant that any effort to gain redress would have resulted in a more vigorous persecution on the road side. The whole attitude of the public bureaucracy brings visions of some earlier societies that thankfully have passed into history. Or have they? It’s just one outlandish gripe against private industry after another.
Here’s the latest foul act that has been related to me. A truckie was accused of having a poorly adjusted brake on his trailer. When the driver undertook to ‘nip’ it up, the accusing scaly demanded to see the driver’s certificate of competency as a mechanic.
Where does that leave those in industry accreditation who are deemed to be allowed to maintain equipment through recognition of prior learning?
I have been in contact with someone from the bus and coach industry. The story is frightening. As any truck driver can tell you, when being belittled by an enforcement person, the analogy is always raised: “What if a school bus full of kids pulls out in front of you?” Well, in this situation the school bus full of kids is the very issue.
There is a formula that used to apply to the registration of new coaches to determine loaded weight. Even that formula was something of an exercise in wishful thinking. First off was the requirement to front up with a form 703 in addition with a tare weigh bridge docket. One then does some elementary calculation. Subtract the tare weight from the allowable gross. In the case of a two-axle coach, that gross is 16 tonnes.
Then one divides that figure by a formula which values the body weight per passenger at 65 kilos. That’s the wishful thinking bit.
It would be an interesting exercise to average out the weight of a year 12 class.
Anyway, the resulting figure allows that many seats to be fitted. Now for some time even that rubbery formula has been cast aside – especially the requirement to produce a tare weight figure for the vehicle being reregistered. In Queensland there is no requirement for coaches to enter a weighbridge should such a facility be operating on a coach’s route.
Maybe that situation has come about because enforcement does not want too many witnesses to their poor public relations procedures.
The advice I have received is that many school buses are running grossly overweight. I was told that some coaches are fitted with up to 65 seats when just 49 would be the number to meet the formula.
It was said to me that some are going up to nine tonne on steer axles. A study of the load ratings of 295/80 steer tyres come up with the highest rating falling around 3.5 tonnes; or seven tonnes in combination. Nine tonnes exceeds both a safe tyre loading and axle load ratings. Remember, we are talking about buses grossly overweight with school kids.
NON ADR COMPLIANT
Governments have been complicit in this mess as they have been subsidising the purchase of imported coaches – incidentally to the value of the cheapest import available.
The accusation is that some, indeed many, do not conform to required ADRs. Of course the public sector bureaucracy has wiped its hands of the mess, stating that the owner and driver are responsible for loaded weight.
How come there is never any demand for chain of responsibility to be directed against the public servants who have allowed this situation to develop? Just picture the possible situation should the coach be chartered to a football club and when, after the game and festivities, artificially relaxed players and supporters are wanting to board for the return trip.
Maybe the coach operator in their wisdom has taken it upon themselves to fit on-board scales. How is a driver supposed to admit just enough people to comply with weight parameters that leave seats empty?
Or the local secondary school has its year 12 kids taken to an event. Is the teacher, responsible for the outing, going to be involved in a chain of responsibility lawsuit when the overloaded coach is involved in a horrible loss of life incident? Or the driver and owner? What impact will pass onto the vehicle supplier?
The issue is beginning to attract concern among some vehicle suppliers with at least a couple declining to provide coaches with yet even more seating capacity.
As I have come to expect, bureaucracy has washed its hands of any responsibility and will pass the buck to the owner and driver.
Maybe the Transport Workers Union will see fit to get involved. In view of the latest mind-blowing edict from the NHVR, it will no doubt expect those who have concerns to dob. Concerned industry associations? I’m told that bus industry associations receive considerable financial support from those with a vested interest in supplying non-ADR approved vehicles. A bit hard to bite the hand that feeds you – or dob in your sponsor.
GPS on log books? I just wonder whether the things can be programmed to record excessive time a driver is held while an inspector supposedly goes through the thing.
“Bureaucracy has washed its hands of any responsibility.”