NTC Considers Increases In Vehicle Mass And Dimensions

Consultation Regulation Impact Statement considers much-needed increases in heavy vehicle mass, height and length limits under the current Heavy Vehicle National Law

The National Transport Commission (NTC) this week released a consulation Regulatory Impact Statement (C-RIS) on three key policy areas related to the Heavy Vehicle National Law review, including increases in vehicle mass and dimensions.

The C-RIS is seeking industry input on three key areas of policy under consideration by the HVNL review: fatigue management; vehicle mass and dimension limits; and national audit standards for operator accreditation.

In the critical area of vehicle mass and dimension limits, the C-RIS considers the regulatory impact of expanding the vehicle mass and dimension limits for as-of-right access to the road network, including increasing general mass limits by 5 per cent to the current concessional mass limits – and providing additional mass allowance for Euro VI vehicles.

It also assesses the option of extending vehicle height for general access from 4.3m to 4.6m; and increasing length for general access from 19m to 20m.

In the area of fatigue management, the C-RIS discusses limitations in the HNVL that contribute to drivers driving fatigued, raising the option of changes to record-keeping requirements, the scope of vehicles subject to fatigue regulations, and enforcement of fatigue provisions.

On national audit standards for operator accreditation, the C-RIS considers whether confidence in the robustness of the current audit standard could be improved by being prescribed in both primary law as well as regulations.

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National Manager Policy and Government Relations, Greg Forbes, says HVIA is generally supportive of increases to mass, vehicle height and length.

However, he notes that despite extensive consultation between jurisdictions and the NTC, the C-RIS provides little information on how road managers will respond to the proposed changes.

The issue will be discussed at the next round of HVIA State Committee Meetings, which will feature a guest speaker from the NTC to talk to members about the HVNL reforms.

“Once we have had those conversations we will finalise our response to the C-RIS. Hopefully, the feedback process will help us understand how the road managers will response to the proposed changes,” he says.

“Making that information public is critical for understanding the overall impact on industry. The worst case would be if road managers revert to signage as a mechanism for managing access for vehicles currently operating under permits and notices.

“If all we do is change one method for managing access for another and we don’t get real improvements in access it will be a missed opportunity. Industry needs to have confidence that there will be real improvements in costs and access, and that will only happen if road managers are open about how they will respond if the proposed changes are made.”

The C-RIS documents and details of the consultation process are available on the NTC website along with links to a video and enrolment in information sessions run by the NTC.

Consultation is open until November 24 and interested members are encouraged to contact Greg Forbes to pass on feedback (g.forbes@hvia.asn.au), or they can provide a direct response to the NTC via an online questionnaire and/or via making a submission.

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