The Australian Trucking Association has sent a clear message to the National Transport Commission for its comprehensive review of the HVNL – stop penalising drivers so harshly.
In a suite of submissions in response to the release of a regulation impact statement (RIS) on potential charges, the ATA makes a strong case for a wide-ranging overhaul to deliver risk-based safety and productivity improvements.
“The fines for prescriptive offences –such as failing to draw a line in the right place on a work diary page – should be dramatically reduced,” said ATA chair David Smith.
“Warnings should be used more often, and there should be policies in place to withdraw infringement notices for matters already dealt with under an employer’s safety management system.
“The current high penalties for minor paperwork errors do not increase safety. They are, instead, a frustrating maze of random hazards for drivers.”
The ATA said there should also be policies in place to withdraw infringement notices for matters already dealt with under an employer’s SMS.
Smith said that businesses should also have more voluntary options to move away from paper record keeping.
“Operators should also be notified electronically about defect notices and have online access to safety related driving infringements,” he said.
Smith said that research commissioned by the ATA showed the productivity of the transport, postal and warehousing sector had fallen steadily since the HVNL came into force in 2014.
“That’s why we are proposing bold initiatives to increase productivity without affecting safety,” he said.
“For example, the productivity benefits of performance based standards should be unlocked by transferring some PBS vehicle designs to the prescriptive heavy vehicle fleet, so they can be used by any operator.
“Governments also need to develop a modular high productivity freight vehicle framework and network.”
Smith said the scope of the new law also needs to be expanded to cover any party with influence over heavy vehicle transport activities.
“including online freight matching platforms, facility owners and operators, and truck repairers,” he said.
“Many of the provisions of the law should be moved to the regulations so they can be changed more easily when required.”
The NTC is now reviewing a total of 63 formal industry submissions in response to the RIS, which will help inform the final policy recommendations to present to ministers in May 2021.