Industry News

What you need to know about the NHVR’s 2021-22 findings

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has reviewed its efforts to drive sustainable improvements to safety, productivity and efficiency across the road transport sector.

The 2021-22 Annual Report, published 28 October 2022, is reported to be in line with the commitments the NHVR made in its Corporate Plan 2021–2024.

It provides a detailed account of the organisation’s operational and corporate performance during the 2021-22 financial year.

The NHVR’s purpose is to enable safe and efficient heavy vehicle movements for the benefit of all. Heavy vehicles are defined in Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) as a vehicle that has a Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) or Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM) of more than 4.5 tonnes, with the GVM of a vehicle being the maximum it can weigh when fully loaded as specified by the manufacturer. ATM in this instance refers to the total maximum mass of a heavy trailer including the load and mass imposed on the towing vehicle by the trailer when the towing vehicle and trailer are on a horizontal surface.

As for the Regulator’s vision it is striving for a safe, efficient and productive heavy vehicle industry serving the needs of Australia. This is further supported by the organisation’s mission to administer a statutory national system through leadership and influence that delivers consistent and streamlined regulatory services and administration to the Australian heavy vehicle road transport sector. It aim to foster greater safety and productivity while minimising regulatory burden.

In 2021-22 the NHVR reportedly delivered a safer, more productive industry with 32 road access notices (29 in 2020-21) and a better customer experience with 54 per cent faster Performance-Based Standards (PBS) vehicle approval turnaround (6.49 days in 2021-22, 14 days in 2020-21).

It also reported 16 per cent growth in Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM) accreditation (89 in 2021-22, 77 in 2020-21) and 15 per cent faster NHVR permit processing time (2.48 days in 2021-22, 12.11 days in 2020-21).

A new in-house contact centre managed to resolve 90 per cent of its initial calls, too.

There were 15 charges relating to breaches of the primary duties under HVNL (15 in 2020-21) and 15 Enforceable Undertakings (EUs) under the HVNL (two in 2020-21).

National Heavy Vehicle Regulator Chair, Duncan Gay.

NHVR Chair, Duncan Gay, said there is nothing more important that the Regulator does that is more important than ensuring heavy vehicle drivers get home safely to their families.

“In both my current and former roles, I’ve been fortunate to get to know drivers and operators who live and breathe the transport task every day,” he said.

“I’ve learnt how much the heavy vehicle industry relies on government to make good and timely decisions that impact their livelihoods.

“Most critical to these decisions is ensuring we are making every effort to eliminate trauma and the loss of lives on our roads.”

There is a clear focus for the organisation to reduce the road toll. During 2021-22, 187 people died in crashes involving heavy trucks, up 16 per cent year-on-year.

“We know different factors play a role in heavy vehicle crashes that occur right along the supply chain,” said Gay.

“We also know that light vehicles continue to be the at-fault party in eight out of 10 fatal crashes involving cars and trucks in Australia.

“As a modern and intelligence-led regulator, we are committed to challenging the system and finding new ways to bring down the number of fatalities on our roads.”

Shared responsibility is the primary theme around the NHVR Heavy Vehicle Safety Strategy 2021-2025 (HVSS). It also emphasises the importance of effective partnerships with industry, regulatory and supply chain partners and the community.

Gay also commented on fatigue reform, fitness to work, supporting the Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative (HVSI) program and achieving consistent and effective borderless regulation.

“We have already created consistent, borderless operations in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria, where we have assumed regulatory responsibility for heavy vehicles through delivery of the National Services Transition (NST) Program,” he said.

“In these jurisdictions, we have increased the levels of resources, services and functionality – at no cost to industry.

“We have also provided improved regulatory capability, and are starting to see the benefits of harmonised policies, procedures and training of our staff.

“In August this year, regulatory services will transition to the NHVR from New South Wales – the largest of the HVNL participating jurisdictions.

“This will grow our workforce by 70 per cent, when around 340 new people join our New South Wales team, 310 of them transferring directly from Transport for NSW (TfNSW).

“We have also been working closely with the Queensland Department for Transport and Main Roads (TMR), with a view to completing transition in 2023. We are grateful to TfNSW and TMR for their cooperation throughout the process so far and for the strong, supportive relationships we have built.”

The NHVR, according to Gay, also appreciates the confidence shown by the Federal Government to deliver initiatives such as the $20 million Strategic Local Government Assessment Program (SLGAAP).

“The SLGAAP has enabled us to go ‘back to basics’ to assess the state of infrastructure on local government roads, so we can continue to use roads as economic assets and gain the greatest efficiencies,” said Gay.

“In under two years, the SLGAAP has delivered 465 bridge assessments across 74 council areas with up to 500 more assessments still to be undertaken, and we are seeing the benefits, with access opening across previously underrated or uncategorised assets, enabling drivers to use shorter, safer routes.”

National Heavy Vehicle Regulator CEO, Sal Petroccitto.

Meanwhile, NHVR CEO, Sal Petroccitto, has reflected on his past eight years of service in his role. He is proud to see how much the industry has changed and continues to change through innovation, technology and by sharing common goals to make the roads safer for everyone.

“It has been gratifying to see – and be part of – the collaboration and teamwork that has been pivotal to enabling our industry to keep performing effectively, especially throughout the crises and emergencies of the past few years,” he said.

“Just as we were learning to live with the constantly changing and complex logistical impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic – both from an individual and industry perspective – we were tested by devastating weather events and floods across the country.

“Yet trucks kept moving, enabling communities to access essential supplies and supporting critical infrastructure projects to continue.

“In one particularly outstanding situation, we worked with governments and truck and rail operators to open a freight land bridge across the Nullarbor, to enable food to be transported from South Australia to Perth.

“It is from experiences like this that we learn exactly what we can achieve when we all work together for a common cause. Indeed, effective partnerships will continue to be key to delivering improved safety outcomes in the future.”

Over the past year, the Regulator’s data-driven approach to target greater risks have proven to be more effective in detecting non-compliance than routine intercept programs.
Data-driven targeted operations

“Data is provided to our officers on the roadside in near real time, as we have streamlined the processing of large datasets from 15 minutes to under one second,” said Petroccitto.

“This enables us to detect risks as they are happening and intervene where there is an imminent danger to public safety.

“By creating a more reliable crash prediction model, we have used vehicle, defect and crash data to identify a cohort of 197 extreme-risk vehicles and operators that have a one-in-38 chance of being involved in a fatal or serious incident on any given day.

“This information allows us to identify the parties most likely to be responsible for breaches of the HVNL and take early preventative action.”

The NHVR is committed to a regulatory intervention strategy focused on informing, educating and enforcing.

“Wherever possible and appropriate, we opt for more modern education options to encourage voluntary compliance,” said Petroccitto.

“During the year, we accepted 15 EUs under the HVNL as alternatives to prosecution, where we were satisfied organisational safety reform could be achieved. We also made seven successful applications to courts for supervisory intervention orders (SIOs), which addressed the offending behaviour by focusing on education and strategies to prevent the offence recurring.”

To improve customer interaction and to undertake regulatory activities more efficiently, the Regulator continues to improve its NHVR Portal. For instance, the NHVR Portal Asset module is reported to contain more than 3,000 road assets such as culverts and bridges to help road managers make informed access decisions.

“Critical to this work, during the year we continued working with industry andvroad managers on the NHVR National Spatial Program, which will deliver a national automated road access solution for heavy vehicles and provide a single, dynamic, national map for heavy vehicle access on all public roads,” said Petroccitto.

The Next Generation Route Planner made its debut in March 2022 which was touted by the NHVR CEO to be an important milestone in the delivery of a nationally consistent and intelligent route planning platform.

“The new Route Planner allows updating with real-time changes to the road network and is helping operators plot more accurate heavy vehicle routes, minimising routing errors leading to rework and reducing the time it takes to
plan a journey,” said Petroccitto.

July 2021 saw the launch of an in-house contact centre to enhance the customer experience.

“This has been successful, with the Contact Centre’s performance exceeding expectations and receiving a 96 per cent satisfaction rating from customer feedback,” said Petroccitto. “This is an exciting time to be leading
the NHVR on its journey to becoming a modern, data-driven, risk-based regulator. Access to new technologies and innovative practices is continually changing the regulatory landscape, enhancing our ability to deliver improved productivity and safety outcomes for governments, industry and the community.”

The NHVR regulates more than 814,000 registered heavy vehicles of which there are 230,000-plus registered operators – 42 per cent organisations and 58 per cent individuals.

It provides a range of services to 8,198 National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme (NHVAS) accredited operators. About 55,000 are registered NHVR Portal users. Also, 465 bridge and culvert assessments were completed under the SLGAAP. At the time of writing, there are more than 14,500 PBS-approved combinations operating in Australia.

There were also 143,231 road access permits issued – 6,057 individual PBS vehicles approved, 52,213 calls through the NHVR contact centre and 949,729 unique visitors to the NHVR website.

A national roadworthiness survey – based on assessments between May-July 2021 – showed significant improvement in national fleet mechanical condition. The overall national non-compliance rate improved from 48 per cent (2016) to 31 per cent.

Vehicles inspected at roadside checkpoints or depots included rigids, semi-trailers, B-doubles, road trains, buses and Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs).

Fixed rigid heavy vehicles remained the vehicle class with the highest non-compliance at 38 per cent; however,this was down from 52 per cent in 2016.

Brakes were the component with the highest level of non-compliance.

The average age of inspected vehicles was 10.2 years, up from 9.2 years in 2016. The Regulator found a strong correlation between the age of a unit and the incidence of non-conformity. Freight hauling units showed the
greatest increase in non-conformity with age – at 14 per cent for vehicles less than three years old to 53 per cent for those aged 12 years or more.

Every vehicle, according to the Regulator, was subjected to a comprehensive visual inspection and a roller brake test, based on the National Heavy Vehicle Inspection Manual (NHVIM). Use of registration data, roadside data capture technology and coordinated inspection methodologies reduced average inspection times from 45 minutes to 31 minutes (equating to a 2,000-hour improvement) compared to activities conducted in 2016.

In other news, the NHVR detailed a recent EU example.

The post What you need to know about the NHVR’s 2021-22 findings appeared first on Trailer Magazine.

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