Victorian chain of responsibility laws to pack real bite

Brumby Government wants chain of responsibility laws for speeding to curb road toll and target those imposing unrealistic deadlines

By Brad Gardner

Companies that force truck drivers to speed to meet deadlines will be fined in excess of $50,000 as part of new anti-speeding laws to be introduced in Victoria.

Following the NSW lead in tying chain of responsibility to speed, the Brumby Government wants all aspects of the freight industry to be held accountable for drivers breaching road laws.

Under new laws introduced into parliament this week, employers, prime contractors, schedulers, loading managers and consignors may be penalised $56,710 if caught knowingly influencing a driver to speed.

Drivers will also be fined $11,342 and face the prospect of another $3,403 in fines if caught exceeding the speed by 35km or more. The measure increases the penalty by more than $1000.

Minister for Roads and Ports Tim Pallas says the changes, which include stricter drink driving guidelines, will help reduce Victoria’s road toll.

He says by linking chain of responsibility to speeding, companies "are less inclined to pressure drivers to breach road safety laws".

NSW introduced similar provisions last year based on the model developed by the National Transport Commission (NTC).

The move has won the backing of the Victorian Transport Association (VTA), which supports extending on-road responsibilities beyond the driver and company.

Deputy Chief Executive Neil Chambers says the laws will "go hand in hand" with fatigue management regulations because drivers will not be able to speed to reach their destination within their allotted driving hours.

The Government is also banking on new drink driving laws to help Victoria achieve its 30 percent reduction in the road toll by 2017.

Under the new laws, drink drivers will have their licences immediately revoked if they record a blood alcohol level of 0.10 as opposed to the current 0.15, which is used in all other states.

"Drink driving contributes to around 20 to 30 percent of driver deaths on Victoria’s roads each year," Pallas says.

"This initiative further toughens up Victoria’s approach to dealing with drink drivers, getting them off the road as quickly as possible rather than waiting until the matter goes to court."

"Other changes will see increased maximum court fines for first time drink driving offences, from $1,360 to $2,269," Pallas says.

The new laws will also target cyclists guilty of dangerous riding and failing to stop and render assistance at an accident.

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