28 September 2021
Increasingly, technology is being used to assist heavy vehicle operators and their drivers comply with the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL). There is a range of technologies available covering key areas of HVNL compliance including fatigue, speed and mass management. These technologies include global navigation or positioning systems (GPS), alertness-monitoring technology, electronic work diaries (EWDs), speed limiters, telematics and electronic mass measurement technology such as On-Board Mass (OBM) systems.
The purpose of this article is to give an overview of these technologies and how they can assist heavy vehicle operators and their drivers with their HVNL compliance, including how operators can make sure they are getting the most out of them.
Compliance with fatigue management related laws has been made easier in recent years by EWDs, alertness-monitoring technology and GPS:
To support compliance with speed management obligations (heavy vehicles of more than 4.5 tonnes Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) must not travel more than 100km/h), there are speed limiters and electronic speed management systems. Speed limiters are devices that limit heavy vehicles maximum speed and thus prevent drivers from breaching speed maximum speed limits applied to their heavy vehicles.
Electronic speed management systems, often referred to as telematics, use satellite tracking and wireless communication technology to monitor, among other things, the speed of heavy vehicles. This technology can include GPS.
Recently, operators have been increasingly using electronic mass measurement technology to demonstrate and evidence compliance with HVNL obligations. This technology includes OBM systems which are integrated on-board weighing systems that allow for real-time load management data of gross and axle weights to be fed to drivers and operators alike.
The installation and use of the above technologies will go a long way in assisting operators and drivers in complying with their HVNL obligations. However, they will be even more effective if they are introduced with training for the relevant users and implemented within broader safety policies and procedures.
Relevant training is paramount to ensure that these technologies are used and operated properly and that the data they provide is interpreted correctly. For example, in the case of OBM systems, drivers, in particular, must be able to understand the data being fed to them so that they can then use it to adjust and correct their vehicle’s load as required.
Additionally, accounting for these technologies in wider safety policies and procedures is important. This is particularly the case when you consider that operators have a primary duty to ensure the safety of their transport activities so far as reasonably practicable. For example, in the case of fatigue management technology, a device that allows the driver and operator to detect fatigue is one thing, but if there are no policies and procedures in place to inform drivers and operators as to what to do next when a driver is exhibiting signs of fatigue, then the technology loses its benefits. So, using this example, there should be a corresponding procedure for when a fatigue management device signals signs of fatigue, such as requiring the driver to pull over at the next rest station and call their operator to determine next steps, including the cessation of work in circumstances where the driver cannot take the appropriate rest.
Compared to previous methods, such as paper work diaries, and when used in combination with sound safety policies and procedures, the use of technology is a great answer to ensuring HVNL compliance. Ultimately, however, technological solutions are tools to assist with HVNL compliance. Their use does not in and of itself ensure compliance. At the end of the day, the responsibility to ensure they are operating within the realms of the HVNL lies with parties in the chain.
Authors: Nathan Cecil & Melanie Long
The information in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that the information in this article is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future.