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Industry calls for uniform roadworthiness rules

07 April 2015

Any changes to the heavy vehicle roadworthiness system must lead to uniform roadworthiness rules and enforcement, the Chief Executive of the Australian Trucking Association, Chris Melham, said today.

Mr Melham was releasing the ATA’s submission to the National Transport Commission in response to its consultation regulatory impact statement on heavy vehicle roadworthiness.

“The trucking industry is strongly in favour of nationally uniform enforcement, including standard rules for vehicle inspections and defect assessments,” Mr Melham said.

“The current roadworthiness rules are sometimes applied haphazardly or wrongly at the roadside. Clear, nationally accepted rules need to be established for declaring a vehicle roadworthy, and for issuing and clearing minor and major defect notices. There must also be consistent national training for enforcement officers,” he said.

Mr Melham said the chain of responsibility concept should be extended to vehicle roadworthiness, as previously recommended by the ATA.

“The ATA has put forward a comprehensive set of reforms to chain of responsibility, which would extend CoR to roadworthiness while at the same time reducing the complexity of the law,” he said.

He said governments should not make any changes to periodic scheduled inspections without more evidence. At present, some states require every truck to be inspected every year, regardless of their risk profile. Other states do not.

“The NTC consultation RIS acknowledges there is inadequate evidence (and often conflicting information) about the effectiveness of roadworthiness policies, and for periodic scheduled inspections in particular,” Mr Melham said.

“Scheduled inspections are a rigid, high-cost enforcement tool. It is often said that they only establish roadworthiness on one day of the year: the day a truck is inspected.

“There is no solid evidence to support the introduction of scheduled inspections in states where they are not currently done. There is also no solid evidence to support their removal in the states that require them.

“Given the lack of evidence for or against scheduled inspections, and in line with the principles of evidence-based policy, the ATA believes it would be prudent to hold off making major and costly policy decisions about this specific issue until there is more evidence.

“The submission recommends that governments should fund a major case-control study to provide more information about the links between vehicle inspections, vehicle roadworthiness and accidents, to inform future decisions about the effectiveness of these inspections,” he said.