The truncated TMC hosted the usual ‘Meet the Inspectors’ session, where those running the roadside enforcement teams around the country tell us what’s happening and answer questions from the audience as part of the truck inspection update.
The Australian Trucking Association’s TMC with a pandemic-style online forum proved to be a little less fraught for the speakers than it has been in the past, when they were actually face-to-face with the trucking industry.
This year the guests included, Paul Simionato, National Heavy Vehicle Regulator Director Southern Region (Operations), Russell Greenland, NHVR Manager, Transport Safety Services Metropolitan Operations and Roger Weeks, Transport for NSW Director Compliance.
In Victoria, Paul tells us, the NHVR does more mobile intercepts than checking of vehicles at places like weigh stations. Many of these mobile interceptions are instigated by information called into the NHVR via its heavy vehicle confidential reporting line, as more NHVR activity is based on targeted intelligence than was the case in the past.
“Load restraint figures are indicating that it is an issue, predominantly in Victoria,” said Paul. “Overall, out of around 10,000 intercepts in the last 10 months there were nearly 3000 infringements.”
The overall non-compliance rate turns out to be over 60 per cent in the NHVR numbers, but because it runs a much more intelligence-led and targeted interception regime than has happened in the past, the figures can be deceiving.
“Once you are targeting, you are more likely to get most of the people who are non-compliant,” said Paul. “Hence the compliance rates is very low at this point.”
The Regulatory Compliance Mobility Solution has been used by roadside enforcement for some time in Victoria, but is now being rolled out by the NHVR across ACT, South Australia and Tasmania. This system enables the agency to drill down further into the data and detect trends and problems more effectively and accurately. Figures about brake defects are now broken down into the actual component which is defective in this more granular data.
“We do detect issues around load restraint and our education efforts are quite high around this subject,” said Paul. “We are trying to be a risk based regulator and trying to help industry by educating rather than taking other alternative actions. You get a better result long-term.
“Now, we are trying to build in some national performance measures. We talk about compliance rates generally as an overall percentage. What we have tried to do at the NHVR is to break it up into two compliance rates, one being a high level of non-compliance and the other being a low level of non-compliance.
“When we are looking at planning our enforcement strategy and deciding what we should be targeting, we are more interested in looking at what is causing that high rate of regulatory non-compliance, incorporating things like severe or critical breaches or severe issues around mass, roadworthiness or fatigue.”
From the point of view of Roger, in NSW, there have been some positive results from the pandemic, with a decrease in heavy vehicle fatal crashes as a result of considerably lower levels of traffic on our roads.
“Whilst I hesitate to use the word good news, at least it is showing signs of moving in the right direction, ” said Roger. “We saw no decline in the amount of heavy vehicle movements, but there has been a reduction in fatalities and fatal crashes.
“The other thing I would like to share, that’s also good news, is that our compliance rate had an uptick in 2019 of 1.3 per cent. That’s significant because that’s across almost 330,000 inspections and it’s the first time we’ve seen an improvement in compliance over a four year period.”
As is often the case in these presentations, Roger talked about a roadside stop which discovered a truck intercepted near Byron Bay in the north of NSW to have had its speed limiter interfered with to enable it to be capable of 132.9 km/h and with the driver testing positive for methamphetamine.
The increased monitoring of the industry has seen transport for New South Wales identify the soil and aggregate sector as being particularly problematic in terms of compliance. There is a much higher non-compliance rate in the truck and dog sector in NSW, and a higher rate again in the Sydney area. Using operator risk profiling, Transport for NSW is targeting operators with above average non-compliance rates.
“Every week we conduct operations on mass and roadworthiness in the truck and dog sector and it is starting to have a positive impact but, clearly, the level of non-compliance we are finding means that we have more work to do,” said Roger.