Short term priorities for industry and the community

(Extract from meeting notes) 

1.        Getting safety education and accreditation right

  • Safety is the most important challenge facing industry.
  • In the United States, that country’s national truck regulator has found that targeted auditing and training support to trucking operators has delivered crash-rate reductions of up to 90%. The gains are highest amongst the smallest operators.
  • In Australia, government evaluation of truck accreditation and auditing programs has shown they deliver crash-rate reductions of between 50 and 70%.
  • Current government agencies that regulate our industry do not have a strong focus on truck safety education and accreditation programs.
    • Accreditation programs are treated as relatively low-priority. Road safety priority is always given to cars and motorbikes, and to speeding and alcohol.
    • Special skills and relationships are needed to persuade a company to join an accreditation program. Most agencies do not have the required understanding of the industry’s culture and workforce.
  • A specialist agency would have the focus, skills and relationships needed to give sustained attention to improving safety education and safety management (accreditation) within our industry.

2.        Fatigue management reform

  • Managing driver fatigue is one of our most important safety issues, and it is a big productivity issue too.
  • Current fatigue laws impose a large number of problems for industry. The laws are too prescriptive, too ‘one-size-fits-all’, and are poorly suited to rural and regional transport operations.
  • These flaws create real problems in the Bush. Improving fatigue regulation is one of the most pressing issues facing livestock and rural transport operators.
  • The national regulator will include a legally independent, and highly expert, mechanism for making decisions on operators’ requests for more flexible arrangements. This is strongly supported by our industry.

3.        Effective Chain of Responsibility education and law enforcement

  • The Borbidge Government of Queensland delivered the first comprehensive Chain of Responsibility laws for the road transport industry. In the years following, they have been implemented in every State. They are strongly supported by industry.
  • Existing agencies have struggled to deliver enough training and education upon these laws, and many have lagged badly in their enforcement of these laws.
  • But where proper enforcement across the full Chain has happened, the results have been exceptional and have resulted in major improvements to how the industry operates and how it is treated by its customers.
  • A specialist agency can bring focus, skills and resources to properly apply these laws.

4.        Keeping Council ‘road managers’ honest, and helping them too

  • Across the country, the trucking industry deals with more than 500 local Councils and Shires.
    • None of them can match the Brisbane City Council’s expertise and resources.
  • Too often, industry finds that Councils and Shires take decisions regarding trucks that are based on out-of-date or incomplete information – and that almost always results in the most modern, most productive truck being denied access to the Council’s road network.
    • Almost every factory, warehouse and farm in Australia is located on a Council or Shire-owned road.
    • When a Council refuses a modern truck access to its roads, that results in a loss of economic efficiency.
    • These so-called ‘last mile’ problems are a huge concern to industry.
  • It is difficult for industry to persuade Councils to reconsider these decisions, and other levels of government may not have the resources or cannot give priority to educating Councils regarding heavy vehicle issues.
  • The national regulator will be a specialist agency, with the resources, skills and accountabilities that will cause it to give priority to giving Councils better information and even direct assistance with some technical assessments.

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