Last Thursday evening representatives of Bicycle NSW and the Newcastle Cycleways Movement attended the National Road Transport Association meeting at Gilbert & Roach in Hexham, to better understand the issues behind the Heavy Vehicle National Law Review.

Bicycle NSW has encouraged bike riders, pedestrians, motorbike riders and horse riders to contribute to the Heavy Vehicle National Law Review (HVNLR).  Attending the meeting highlighted that heavy vehicle owners and operators share most of our concerns.

Data comparisons demonstrate there was a reduction in fatalities involving heavy articulated trucks in 2018 versus 2017 but no reduction in rigid vehicle fatalities.  This contradicted expected trends and needs further research.

Heavy Vehicles are 4% of the registered vehicles and are involved in 14% of crashes.  However drivers are only held to be responsible in 7% cases according to figures kept by insurers. Sadly suicide by truck is implicated in 37.5% of fatalities.  Media organisations do not report this, in order to avoid the risk of others copying this.

Jacquiline Dakl-Speck explained that the law as it stands:

  • does not focus on regulating harm to reduce risks
  • is not adopted across all states, and is not implemented uniformly
  • focuses heavily on managing compliance through paperwork, neglecting modern technology solutions

During 2019, a number of issues papers will be released with opportunities provided for comment, and in 2010 feeding into proposed draft regulation.  The aim is to produce new regulation that serves the industry, follows Work Health & Safety law as much as possible, is able to be adopted nationally, focuses on the key issues-fatigue, access, technology and accreditation, in order to ensure the driver, vehicle and route are safe.

Richard Calver explained how Chain of Responsibility (COR) law should work to reduce injuries and fatalities by regulating the actions of people controlling things that could impact safety, and allowing for prosecutions for near misses, not just crashes.  This includes companies packing sealed containers for transport where the driver cannot check they are packed safely, or contract managers that set schedules which leave insufficient time to take rest breaks or to move at the set speed limits.

The HVNLR needs amendment in order to work better with COR law.  COR law also needs to change to cover everyone in the chain as some parties, like booking agents, are not currently covered.

“The heavy vehicle industry is investing a lot of hard work in improving safety for all road users,” said General Manager of Public Affairs, Bastien Wallace.

“Our campaign focuses on shared concerns of vulnerable road users and truck drivers and owners, and we encourage you to share images and remind your Federal MP this matters to you,” said Bastien.

For more information about our heavy vehicle campaign and what you can do, go here.

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