Are maintenance schemes less of a compliance factor?


The number non-conformities in heavy vehicles that have significantly decreased in comparison to five years ago, have done so without the aid of compliance schemes according to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s (NHVR) latest findings.

The NHVR’s National Roadworthiness Survey (NRS) 2021 inspected 13,325 heavy vehicle units across 8338 heavy vehicle combinations in all Australian states and territories between May and June.

Compared to the 2016 NRS, there were multiple categories of units that were significantly less likely to be participating in any compliance schemes.

The NHVR survey study found this surprising given the decrease in non-conformities observed across the board, but did not provide any further data on why this might be the case. It could be that either maintenance schemes have improved compliance organically to the point where they are no longer required, or operators already have their own robust safety management systems in place.

The unit types with less involvement in compliance programs were: Articulated (51 per cent vs 2016 58 per cent); Semi-trailer (36 per cent vs 2016 46 per cent); B-double (64 per cent vs 2016 78 per cent); Road train (61 per cent vs 2016 78 per cent); and Trailers (42 per cent vs 2016 47 per cent).

In 2016, it was noted that participation in schemes was not a strong predicator of non-conformity compared to age of vehicle. However, even with the average increased age of the vehicles surveyed in 2021 there has been a significant decrease in non-conformities across the different vehicles.

The 2021 NRS also included fieldwork in WA, which increased the overall participation of units registered in WA. Among these units there was an, on average, slightly lower rates of participation in the maintenance schemes compared to the comparable NHVAS scheme.

Units currently participating in any program were significantly less likely to register any defect (28 per cent vs not participating 32 per cent). However, the incidence of major defects were similar for units participating (5 per cent) and those that weren’t (6 per cent).

Compared to the 2016 NRS, there were no significant differences observed across unit type. Whereas the incidence of non-conformities was significantly lower for rigid truck, semi-trailer and B-double hauling units in 2016.

However, when comparing the incidence of non-conformities for the same condition (e.g. semi-trailers participating in Maintenance schemes) there are significant differences. Among those participating in the maintenance schemes, Semi-trailers, B-doubles, Road trains, and trailers are significantly less likely to observe any non-conformities. A similar trend is observed among vehicle units not participating in schemes.

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