In my life the last 18 months have been the most difficult I have experienced in many ways due to the severe impacts and challenges that Covid-19 has had and continues to have on all aspects of our personal lives. and professional.
It is a huge credit to the road transport industry for playing such a vital and essential role in helping the Australian community navigate this ever-changing environment.
It is important to note that our industry and supply chains continue to be stoic in their approach to ensuring that the best health and safety outcomes are sought for our drivers and others who have the most day-to-day interactions. with each other.
Meanwhile, the need for improved national consistency and communication was in the spotlight for governments, as our industry and communities adapted to the ever-changing and varied demands of border travel. and health care across states.
It hasn’t always been perfect, but wherever possible the NHVR has helped on behalf of the industry to make things as easy as possible.
We have also continued to engage closely with our industry although we are unable to travel and have really enjoyed hitting the road over the past few weeks to speak to our operators and drivers.
Importantly, the past year has taught us some important lessons about how to focus on the issues that matter – like being home safe for our families and caring for each other. As we move into the New Year, it is essential that these lessons are a priority and influence our decisions and actions.
Here are some of my key priorities for 2022.
New applicable law is our common goal
There is no doubt that putting in place a new HGV law that is simpler, gets to the heart of the matter and helps businesses improve is a priority for all of us and will continue to be so in the future. 2022.
Concretely, safety is the number one priority and this includes allowing drivers to get adequate and quality rest and to be fit to drive. We’re very focused on a cultural shift from âthe book says I have to stopâ to âI’m tired and have the support behind me to stop and restâ.
This includes adopting innovative security, regulatory, technology and data approaches to meet the changing demands of our industry and environment and pursuing more practical approaches to open access to the network, in particular a better understanding and better management of infrastructure risks.
Simply put, making regulation better and easier is why we have a national regulator. We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect better results.
As we work with industry and policy makers to influence the results to pass our new law, we will continue to rely on our flexible and risk-based approaches to help you run your business safely and efficiently. .
Education and law enforcement work together
Over the past year, we have been able to continue to implement our modern regulatory approach, which targets the greatest safety risks and uses innovative approaches to improve safety behaviors.
This was a key part of our heavy vehicle safety strategy and our action plan released in October 2021. We use data and intelligence to make sure we are better able to intercept companies where we need to intervene. We are starting to use more education and guidance materials to deal with minor and non-safety related infractions.
We will continue to take advantage of this and reduce on-road interactions and individual incidents as much as possible to focus on the performance of the operator fleet.
This approach also includes using our chain of custody provisions when we see high risk and recurring security issues. Although enforcement is sometimes necessary – there are currently 19 ongoing CoR prosecutions – in cases where fines imposed by the courts are imposed for non-fatal cases (i.e. massive offenses), we try to use binding covenants and prudential intervention orders. To date, nine enforceable commitments and five prudential intervention orders have been issued.
These tools allow us to enter into an agreement with the company to invest in improving safety practices or developing tools that will benefit the entire industry and other road users. This partnership works where both parties are committed to achieving better results and that is our goal.
In 2022, I look forward to sharing safety information such as information on safety defects, part numbers, age and types of vehicles on the network with individual operators through the NHVR portal. This gives the industry the opportunity to see where it is compared to the national average and to identify areas for improvement and where it is performing well.
Consistency and certainty – important and builds confidence
We continue to strive to reduce operational barriers for the industry as we move frontline heavy vehicle regulation services from NSW to NHVR, Queensland to follow in 2023, joining South Australia, Tasmania, the Victoria and ACT.
This transition will allow the regulator to ensure consistent borderless regulation across eastern Canada.
Consistency and certainty are also key drivers of our approach to opening up network access for safer and more efficient vehicles.
We have made good progress in starting to fill a critical gap in improving our understanding of the state of local government infrastructure through our strategic local government asset valuation project.
We have worked with road managers to assess over 300 assets to date (resulting in improved access) and will launch assessments of over 1,000 assets in January 2022.
We are also developing digital tools for road managers, such as a Rapid Bridge Assessment Tool to enable road managers to do their own automated assessments in the future and reduce turnaround times and the need. permit.
In addition to this work, our national space platform will provide a unique new map of the enforceable heavy vehicle network. It will provide more precise mapping and better âhooking upâ of vehicles to approved networks. Testing of the platform is underway for release in 2022.
Our national advisory program will continue to be deployed to reduce inconsistent operating conditions across borders, as well as remove unnecessary and impractical conditions. The National Road Train Prime Mover Mass and Dimension Exemption Notice, for example, has enabled operators to gain efficiency by reducing the need to decouple to complete last mile trips.
Safety technology and innovation improve performance
We have very exciting opportunities ahead of us with the introduction of lifesaving technologies such as Fatigue and Distraction Detection Technology and working together to reduce barriers and support the adoption of safer and cleaner vehicles and technologies. , like Euro VI. We know this is going to be a major focus for our industry as we move into the New Year.
I also encourage you to apply to our seventh cycle of the Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative (HVSI), with applications open until February 2022. It is supported by the Federal Government and focuses on completing projects identified by our industry and the community. . The HVSI program has provided more than $ 28 million to fund nearly 120 projects over the past six years.
Thank you for your support throughout 2021. Merry Christmas and for those of you who have the opportunity to take a break, I hope you enjoy the time spent with your loved ones.
Stay safe on the roads, and I look forward to continuing to work together in the New Year to provide a safe and profitable heavy-duty road transport task.