Throughout 2017 we have been supporting clients to prepare for changes to the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL), effective mid 2018.

In our Safeguard Series, we partnered with the Australian Logistics Council (ALC), highlighting how broad the impact will be on your business, your board and your senior executives. There are a number of resources available, highlighting the risks and pressure points.

The road ahead – the industry trends likely to impact the laws

The industry will continue to grow. It is estimated that truck traffic will increase by 50% by 2030. By 2027, the federal government will have committed AUD $75bn in infrastructure funding to (among other things) develop new transport routes.

Achieving nationally consistent legislation remains a challenge. The National Transport Commission‘s (NTC) latest analysis of the implementation of transport reforms recognises that Western Australia and the Northern Territory not adopting the HVNL creates “significant impacts on industry that operate between WA/NT and the others states”. Hopefully, a greater level of national consistency can be achieved in the future.

The use of telematics will grow. The NTC announced a review of the use of telematics for regulatory purposes to find ways to encourage further take-up and realise safety and productivity benefits.

With new technologies come new risks. New technologies which have the potential to distract drivers have been a growing factor in road safety incidents. To continue to achieve the overall improvement in road safety experienced over the last decade, an approach to reduce driver distraction is required.

The driverless future is closer than ever. Driverless trucks in the Pilbara have now moved more than 100 million tonnes of earth. On the public road, the framework has been established for testing of driverless vehicles. A commitment has been made to have a regulatory framework in place for automated vehicles by 2020.

The black spots, and changes to come

Further reforms of the HVNL were approved by the Transport and Infrastructure Council in May 2017.

If passed, these reforms will further amend the HVNL to:

  • Increase twin-steer axle mass limits.
  • Extend the positive due diligence requirements on officers to include the non-chain of responsibility offences for which executive officers are currently liable.
  • Revise the heavy vehicle national registration provisions and the heavy vehicle standards.

Vehicles approved to performance based standard level 1 will be able to access the general road network. If amendments agreed to in November 2017 are passed into law.

Updated guidance and codes have been announced.