There are many legal regulations when it comes to operating trucks and other heavy vehicles, such as tankers and agricultural trailers, on Australian roads. Most drivers who already have their heavy vehicle licences in order will be familiar with the most important ones, like the rules surrounding mass and rigidity, but there are some changes that have come into force from January 2017. Therefore, anyone who operates or who owns a heavy vehicle should be aware of the new rules.
Why the Change?
Following a crash on the South Eastern Freeway in January 2014 which resulted in the death of the truck driver in question, a number of changes were recommended by the State Coroner in South Australia. The coroner noted that a heavy vehicle can feasible go through its whole working life without an independent inspection ever being conducted. Among several recommendations made to protect road users and truck drivers alike, was the introduction of a heavy vehicle inspection programme. Following the coroner's advice, the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) introduced such a scheme which has now come into force.
Who Does the Programme Affect?
The inspection programme is not aiming to have every heavy vehicle on the road immediately inspected. After all, in any given state, a proportion of registered heavy vehicles are already inspected. For example, inspections of some trucks are currently conducted under the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator Maintenance Accreditation Scheme. However, this leaves about two-thirds of heavy vehicles without an inspection regime, depending on the state they happen to be registered in. The regulatory change aims to focus on this group of heavy vehicles first. Now, any registered truck which undergoes an official change of ownership will have to be inspected. Only safety inspections carried out by an authorised heavy vehicle inspector will be accepted before the change of ownership can proceed. In the first instance, therefore, the programme will affect drivers looking to sell their trucks in order to upgrade to something newer. In other words, older vehicles are more likely to face inspections than newer ones.
Improving Heavy Vehicle Safety
Since heavy vehicle licences are already required by law, drivers are not facing additional regulations, only their trucks. However, like forklift licence arrangements, gaining more training in safety is always helpful for drivers who want to progress to the next licence stage. AOTA offer both forklift licence and heavy vehicle training and assessments with accreditation running all the way up to multi-combination, or road train, licences. The new regulations, along with a continued focus of driver skill, aim to provide a safer environment for all road users.
For more information, contact a business such as All Onsite Training and Assessment.