02 May 2019
Published by Adam Vrahnos
Recently, we discussed mass, load and dimension requirements under the Master Industry Code of Practice (Master Code) registered by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR). In this article we’ll be looking at speed management.
As I’m sure every reader knows, speeding causes a safety risk for any road vehicle. For heavy vehicles, speeding poses a significantly larger risk simply as a matter of physics – the heavier the vehicle, the longer it takes to stop. Add in other factors such as weather, light, traffic, road conditions, vehicle condition, driver skills and experience, and suddenly speed compliance becomes a lot more than simply keeping to the speed limit.
The impact forces experienced by vehicle occupants and other road users also increase. In fact, at any speed, for every extra 1 km/h of speed:
The Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) imposes strict obligations for parties in the Chain of Responsibility (CoR) to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure that a driver of a heavy vehicle does not commit a speeding offence.
Unlike the other “pillars” of CoR such as fatigue or mass compliance, speed compliance is not allocated a specific chapter under the HVNL. Rather, speed compliance under the HVNL is dealt with under:
It is important to remember that the HVNL does not cover circumstances where a driver commits other driving contraventions, which would ordinarily be a general road safety offence. For example, using a hand-held mobile while driving. Where an offence like this occurs, the driver would likely face penalties under the relevant state law.
There are a number of tools available to manage and enforce heavy vehicle speed limits, both in the HVNL and in state and territory road safety laws.
For example, speed limiters can be used to ensure heavy vehicles are prevented from driving over 100 km/h. While it is not mandatory that all heavy vehicles must be fitted with speed limiters, there are certain heavy vehicles that must comply with this Vehicle Standard, such as heavy vehicles manufactured after 1991 that have a gross vehicle mass (GVM) over 14.5 tonnes.
Where a speed limiter is required to be installed in a heavy vehicle, the operator of the vehicle or another responsible party in the CoR must ensure that vehicle cannot operate over the 100 km/h limit and that the speed limiter has not been tampered with. Heavy sanctions will apply to an operator or responsible party that violates the speed limiter requirements. The offences relating to speed limiters under the HVNL are set out as follows:
Another example is the use of electronic speed management systems.
The industry is increasing its use of ‘telematics’ as a means of measuring, monitoring and ensuring compliance with speed limits. Telematics uses Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite tracking and wireless communication technology to remotely monitor where, when and how heavy vehicles are being operated on the road network. This can include the real time monitoring of speeding and driver behaviour.
There are various types of the telematics technologies available to heavy vehicle fleets. Simple GPS tracking devices track the location of each vehicle when they are out in the field and send real-time warnings to the driver and to your head office of a possible or actual compliance breach so that businesses can instantly manage compliance. More advanced systems can be linked to job and journey booking systems, so that depot or journey delays can be immediately integrated into journey planning, to ensure that drivers are not encouraged to speed in order to ‘make up’ any delays.
So what does the Master Code say about speed management?
Ultimately, the goal of any business involved in the supply chain is to ensure that transport activities do not cause a speed breach or influence someone else (usually the driver) to breach their speed obligations.
When businesses consider adopting the three processes above, it is important that they are mindful of the unique risk factors that apply to them. For example, fleets and parties in the Chain which undertake urgent, express or overnight deliveries or move time sensitive freight, such as perishable items, may require different compliance controls to fleets and parties in the Chain which are not involved in those activities.
As parting advice, businesses should consider some of the key questions set out below when addressing compliance:
Paramount to any compliance system and indeed, a key focus of the Master Code is to ensure parties are keeping a paper trail of their compliance activities.
Businesses should always keep a record of what they have done in order to comply with HNVL and their CoR responsibilities. While tools such as electronic speed management systems is a proactive method to ensure compliance, it is equally important that your business has appropriate procedures to ensure those systems accurately record compliance (or noncompliance) and that there are adequate reporting mechanisms.
Lastly, it is good practice to ensure that a business’s HVNL compliance procedures in relation to speed, also address other at-risk behaviours governed under state laws. Some examples of what a HVNL compliance framework would also address include not wearing seat belts, harsh braking and cornering (which can be indicators of speeding), reckless driving including tailgating, drug and alcohol use, and in-cab distractions including mobile device or phone use (for example, using voice to text activated dialing).
Author: Adam Vrahnos
* A version of this article was originally published in CoR Adviser. This article is © 2019 Portner Press Pty Ltd and has been reproduced with permission of Portner Press.
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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 newsletter is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future.
Published by Adam Vrahnos