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For a safer Australia: Q & A Sessions with road experts

Following the roll-out of The National Heavy Vehicle Laws earlier this year, we spoke to a few speakers of the upcoming Chain of Responsibility & Heavy Vehicle Safety Conference about the effects of this new rule book that applies in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia, and key issues and challenges for the industry going forward.

Inspector Phillip Brooks, Traffic & Highway Command, NSW Police Force

Inspector Phillip Brooks

Inspector Phillip Brooks

Please tell me a little about yourself/your role.
I am the Heavy Vehicle Operations Manager for the Traffic & Highway Patrol Command, NSW Police Force, which coordinates the ‘Joint Heavy Vehicle Taskforce’ relationship we have with the NSW Roads & Maritime Service.

How have the roll-out of the new laws affected your business?
Whilst we still continue to enforce, we do so under the provisions of the new law in some cases.  

What do you think will be the key challenge for the industry going into next year?
A mixture of demand & compliance.  There is great demand across the industry at present, where our focus will be on compliance for the benefit of road safety.

What is the main issue facing heavy vehicle safety?
Maintenance standards appear to be poor, with high frequency vehicles & trailers often detected with major defects, which would tend to suggest that regimes are being bypassed.  Whilst speed tampering has a focus, there are still those that continue to be detected which would indicate that there is some tolerance of this practice within the industry.  Recent Court actions against companies & drivers also reflect this position.  Our load restraint activities within goods under transport, and across distribution centres, indicates that this is an emerging problem for the sector.

What will you be discussing at the conference and why is this important?
Our joint enforcement approach has continued to deliver compliance benefits across some industry sectors, where there is now an opportunity to reach out even further for the benefit of road safety for all road users.  Our recent effort in public passenger buses reflects this position.

What other presentation are you looking forward to at this year’s conference?
Effective load restraint – given the issue we continue to identify in load restraint this will be a valuable presentation.

Peter wells

Peter Wells

Peter Wells, Director Customer & Compliance, Roads & Maritime Services 

Please tell me a little about yourself/your role.
I lead the Customer, Compliance and Public Safety functions for NSW Roads and Maritime Services. In relation to (CoR), we are very active in NSW as we see this as an efficient way for Governments and Industry to get sustained improvement across the road freight sector.

How have the roll-out of the new laws affected your business?
The CoR laws are important for Australia – it is efficient law that allows businesses to respond in ways that suit their operation. Over time this will lead to safer and more productive road freight movements. While there is a long way to go, I think there are signs of improvements that are very encouraging.

The big gap we see is that there must actually be ‘reasonable steps’ in place to prevent breaches of Road Transport law. We often find this is not sufficiently covered or is not in place at all.

What do you think will be the key challenge for the industry going into next year?
There are 2 repeated themes we see:

  1. Actual CoR implementation – to make sure people are taking up CoR within their organisations.
  2. The use of subcontractors and the dilution of supervision and management control – these contractors are effectively acting on behalf of the parent organisation and there can be subcontracting down 2 or 3 levels below the parent organisation with limited or nil oversight. There needs to be better practices for monitoring and supervising the actions of contractors.

What is the main issue facing heavy vehicle safety?
To get the culture right. To foster a ‘safety culture’ – to frame the activities around safety and work hard on reform and productivity, but not in ways that endanger the lives of staff and the travelling public.

What will you be discussing at the conference and why is this important?
There are opportunities for top management to place their organisations well – we repeatedly see the companies who are good at Safety, CoR and compliance are also doing well commercially and winning new work and expanding. We want the link between safety and productivity to be clear and encourage Companies to take this up.

What other presentation are you looking forward to at this year’s conference?
The presentations from Jerome Carslake and Ian Ross look very interesting – they go to the core of how to get CoR working well in a Company.

Andrew Petrie, Head of Safety & Assurance, Network Rail 

Andrew Petrie

Andrew Petrie

Please tell me a little about yourself/your role.
I work for Network Rail Consulting, the international consultancy arm of Network Rail who own and operate the UK mainline railway. Having worked as Head of Safety for a number of major projects with NR I am currently on assignment to Australia to help develop our business in the region and am working on a number of projects in Sydney, including the North West Rail Link,

What is the main issue facing heavy vehicle safety?
The main issues that our organisation in the UK has identified regarding vehicle safety are driver fatigue and the use of mobile phones and hands free devices.   Within urban areas the issue of cycle safety is also a major issue with heavy vehicles being a factor in a significant number of accidents and fatalities to cyclists, particularly in central London.

What will you be discussing at the conference?
I will be giving an international perspective on how driver related fatigue is being tackled in the UK from the point of view of our organisation and also how the UK safety regulator and industry bodies are working together to help develop tools and guidance to help industry in general.

What other presentation are you looking forward to at this year’s conference?
I am keen to see what issues are facing operators in Australia and what solutions are being implemented such that I can feedback any lessons learnt to my colleagues in the UK to see if they can be applied to our fleet or even into our supply chain.

Ray Hassall

Ray Hassell

Ray Hassell, General Manager, Legal and Regulatory Services, National Heavy Vehicle Regulator

Please tell me a little about yourself.
My current role is General Manager Legal and Regulatory Services with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator. I’ve been involved in the development and implementation of transport policy, state and national, for about 20 years in both the road and rail sectors. My employer is responsible for the administration of the new laws.

What do you think will be the key challenge for the industry going into next year?
I think the challenges are fairly constant: Attracting and retaining skilled staff, integrating technology into operations, efficiently and effectively managing compliance.

What is the main issue facing heavy vehicle safety?
At the moment there is a clear focus on vehicle maintenance. The challenge will be to ensure this critical area is seen, and is seen by the community, to be properly managed.

What will you be discussing at the conference?
I’ll be discussing chain of responsibility compliance and vehicle standards regulation.

What other presentation are you looking forward to at this year’s conference?
I’m looking forward to the hypothetical case study in particular.

If you’d like to hear more from these outstanding speakers, find out more at the Chain of Responsibility and Heavy Vehicle Safety Conference website.

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