HVIA commends ATA/ALC Master Code but asks for more

The Master Code, developed collaboratively by the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) and Australian Logisitics Council (ALC), should be endorsed by the NHVR as a recommended code of practice under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).

HVIA has suggested some additions to the Code of Practice that will assist transport operators to fulfill their Chain of Responsibility (CoR) obligations by addressing broader risks.

HVIA’s National Policy & Government Relations Manager Greg Forbes says the code provides a good foundation for organisations in the transport chain as defined in the HVNL.

“This is a well balanced mechanism to undertake a risk analysis and assess their liabilities under the Chain of Responsibility provisions of the legislation,” Mr Forbes said. “Particularly in relation to the traditional focus of the HVNL on Speeding, Mass Dimension and Loading, Fatigue and Vehicle Standards.

“These are the areas where operators have traditionally been subject to penalties for breaches of the road transport law.

“The code provides useful guidance on how to eliminate or mitigate the safety impacts associated with breaches to the NVNL Law in these areas.”

The main feature of the recent changes to the CoR provisions of the NHVL was to introduce a primary duty to ensure the safety of all of an organisation’s transport operations. The Master Code provides guidance in relation to the primary duty but tends to focus on issues related to avoiding breaches of the national law.

“While speed, fatigue, mass dimension and loading, and vehicle standards/ maintenance all contribute to safety risks and are largely under the control of the operator, not all safety risk related to transport operations are ones that are directly related to these factors,” Mr Forbes added.

“There are a number of potential risks where the cause of the risk is beyond the control of the parties in the chain. While it may not be possible to eliminate these risks there is still a duty on participants in the chain to minimize these risks or mitigate the outcomes.

“For example, drivers may encounter other road users that pull out in front of them, brake suddenly or travel or overtake unsafely. There may also be situations where the weather, road conditions or other natural events introduce hazards. 

“Many of these types of hazards cannot be predicted in advance. The best that can be done is to ensure that the driver and vehicle are in the best condition possible to react to the event and take evasive action to avoid or minimize the negative safety outcomes.”

HVIA is of the view that participants in the transport chain need to consider these types of risks and that the age of the fleet and fleet purchasing policies need to be considered as part of an organisations strategy to address these risks.

“One of the actions that executives can take to address their duty of care is to make active decisions about the safety of the fleet undertaking their transport tasks,” Mr Forbes said.

“In particular, lowering the age of the fleet and optimizing the inclusion of safety technologies is a strategy that executives need to consider.”

HVIA is also of the view that there are several sections of the master code which could be amended to better explain how analysis of the data collected by in vehicle systems could assist in the management of risks related to speeding fatigue, mass and dimensions and vehicle standards and the safety of transport operations more generally.

“Executives within the transport chain need to be aware that newer vehicles have better safety outcomes than older vehicles. 

“Newer vehicles are likely to have the greatest range of safety systems included or available as options and are also much less likely to have vehicle defects.

“The NHVR National Roadworthiness Baseline Survey (NRBS) has clearly demonstrated that major vehicle standards non-conformities increase rapidly with vehicle age.”

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