Resistance grows against push for mandatory telematics

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Low-cost EWD provider Step Global has added its voice to the growing industry dissent over  the push by the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) for mandatory telematics.

In its latest salvo, the ALC now argues that including the compulsory systems as part of a National Operating Standard would help improve safety and compliance – and at just $2500 for the hardware and up to $50 a month service fee, the technology is “affordable”.

Step Global, however, the supplier of the NHVR-approved SmarteDriver EWD app, says the ALC is wide of the mark.

“It is ridiculous to think that all telematics is the same,” said David Lloyd, Step Global’s Managing Director.

“There is a huge range of functions that could be included, or excluded, so how do you determine what is in and what is out of the standard?

“If we want safer roads through the use of basic fatigue management, then keep it simple and make the EWD obtainable to all drivers at a very low price.”

Lloyd added that the EWD standard is, and should be, a standalone as it replaces the current standalone paper log book.

“The paper log book is personal to the driver; a vehicle telematics system is not, and drivers should not be penalised in having to install a full telematics system just to get access to an EWD.”

The ALC is lobbying hard for the mandatory telematics and a National Operating Standard ahead of the looming overhaul of the Heavy Vehicle National Law by transport ministers.

It also suggests it would be best managed using a phased three year roll out, along the below lines:

  • fatigue-regulated heavy vehicles to carry telemetric equipment compatible with standards recognised by the National Telematics Framework 12 months from the day legislation imposing the requirement commences;
  • vehicles between 8 and 12 GVM two years from the day the legislation imposing the requirement commences; and
  • vehicles between 4.5 and 8 GVM three years from the day the legislation imposing the requirement commences.

But the Australian Trucking Association says the proposed standard, and its mandatory recording requirements, is nothing more than an anti-competitive tax on hardworking small and family businesses.

“From our consultations with operators, we know that the hardware costs are around $12,000 – not including optional safety systems,” ATA CEO Andrew McKellar said.

“The proposal is unclear as to how it could be applied, and the estimated costings are completely absurd and misleading.

“The ALC’s estimated $30 monthly service fee is also a massive underestimate. In reality, this figure is closer to $360 per truck as many systems have separate SIM cards, all requiring a plan and their own monthly charges.

“Trucking operators live in the real world, not the fantasy land the ALC seems to inhabit,” he said.

McKellar said that that ALC’s proposed standard was just operator licensing under a new name.

“Together with NatRoad, the ATA commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to assess the costs of implementing a national operator licensing system,” McKellar said.

“This assessment found that a national operator licensing system would cost $3.6 billion over ten years if it were rolled out nationally as the ALC is proposing, or $3.2 billion over ten years if it were applied to the existing HVNL states.

“These independent and reputable costings show that operator licensing is not in the best interests of Australia’s trucking operators. Governments should reject the ALC proposal,” he said.

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