The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has given its strongest indications yet that it wants to see national alignment on heavy vehicle inspection regimes, while at the same time extending the olive branch to industry in shaping the road ahead.
Currently, heavy vehicle inspections are the domain of states and territories across with a complex mix of change of ownership and periodic requirements, combined with mass management accreditation for larger heavy vehicle operators. In addition, inspection services are also a patchwork of government, industry, or a combination of the two, depending on the jurisdiction.
For example, South Australia's Heavy Vehicle Inspection Scheme covers change of ownership requirements which have been moved back in-house to government from industry operators like Scania and Cavpower, whereas in New South Wales, periodic inspections are offered by government and industry.
A ‘risk-based’ inspection framework is also an insight into what NHVR envisages the future of heavy vehicle inspections to look like. While there is continuing discussion about what ‘risk-based’ actually means in practice, it is probably best understood in contrast to the concept of a prescriptive inspection framework which determines what must be done with little flexibility or regard to an operator’s business activity, safety record or other factors.
For example, in its first consultation paper which introduces the proposed framework, the NHVR has floated the following risk factors:
- Vehicle Age
- Vehicle usage (e.g. dangerous goods, passenger transport)
- Operator insurance status (NHVAS membership)
- Industry sector
- Defect history
- Operating environment
- Vehicle type
- Number of kilometers travelled
- Operator compliance history
The NHVR has flagged that operators would have the ability to dispute and submit evidence to amend a risk rating. The NHVR has also proposed the highest risk level would be subject to 6 monthly inspections, but are open to other suggestions for low, medium, and high-risk inspection frequency.
The discussion paper and framework at this stage does not propose the entities which would undertake inspections, nor does it propose technical inspection standards, requirements or inspection frequency but clearly this is an important body of work for large sections of the automotive industry including commercial vehicle, farm and industrial, towing and passenger transport operators in retail, service and repair.
At the Motor Trade Association SA/NT’s May Industry Advisory Council meeting, the consultation document was discussed in depth, with members providing in-principle agreement to continue to engage with the NHVR to ensure industry needs were reflected.
As recently as this week, the NHVR has returned to industries like the MTA which provided submissions and it is clear that our feedback has been given serious consideration for what will ultimately be presented to all state, territory, and federal ministers at the upcoming Infrastructure and Transport Ministers meeting.
As always, the MTA will keep all members informed as this discussion progresses and ensure that the voice of the automotive industry is front of mind in deliberations which have the potential to change the way heavy vehicle inspections are understood in Australia.