Personal risk to managers in national law

Lawyer says trucking company managers should make themselves aware of their exposure to new law

April 3, 2013

Trucking company managers should make themselves aware of their personal exposure to national heavy vehicle laws, a lawyer advises.

Ben Keenan of Holding Redlich also underlines the extent of the powers available to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s officers.

"In Queensland, the Act imposes obligations on employers and prime contractors of heavy vehicle drivers to take ‘all reasonable steps’ to ensure their business practices do not cause drivers to undertake dangerous or illegal actions such as exceeding speed limits attached to their licence or vehicle, driving while fatigued, overloading a vehicle or failing to report a malfunctioning odometer," Keenan writes in an advisory to clients.

"The Act also provides that where a company commits an offence against the Act, each executive officer of the company also commits an offence and can be prosecuted without the regulator having to first prosecute the company for the offence.

"The Regulator is granted significant powers to enter premises or vehicles and inspect records in hard-copy and electronic formats, seize items believed to be evidence of an offence against the Act and obtain information from individuals connected with a business when investigating a possible offence.

"Officers of the Regulator have authority to issue improvement notices to individuals or businesses the officer reasonably suspects of having breached an obligation imposed under the Act, requiring them to take specified action to rectify the breach within a certain period of time (usually seven days from the date of the notice)."

Keenan highlights other powers granted to officers of the regulator under the Act, including:

  • issuing a heavy vehicle defect notice, prohibiting the vehicle from use until such times as the defect is rectified
  • directing drivers of fatigue-regulated heavy vehicles to immediately cease work and rest for a specified period, and/or work a shift of a prescribed duration when the driver resumes work, where the officer reasonably suspects the driver has breached a maximum work requirement
  • requiring drivers of heavy vehicles to produce their license and any other documentation they are required to keep in the vehicle under the Act.

"All businesses in the heavy vehicle road transport industry should familiarise themselves with the law ahead of its anticipated implementation by state and territory governments throughout Australia during 2013," he says.

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