ATA highlights 'black box' technology concerns

Trucking Association concerned about current and possible future government uses of telematics

By Steve Skinner | July 18, 2013

The Australian Trucking Association is voicing concerns about "black box" technology.

The ATA fears governments may try to make telematics mandatory for monitoring such key areas as driving hours, speed, weight and road user charging (via mass-distance-location pricing).

Telematics is the capture, transmission and remote storage of truck and trailer data.

"Telematics to us is about a better bottom line and compliance for operators, it’s not about simpler enforcement and more opportunities to catch people out," says David Coonan, National Manager, Policy, for the Australian Trucking Association.

"The main linehaul people who run fleets have been able to find the business case for fitting those types of devices, but you can still quite conceivably run a compliant, safe trucking business of some size without electronic monitoring," adds Coonan.

"For the 85 percent of the industry which is less than five trucks, the case for electronics is hard to make in the current circumstances."

However the ATA does support current moves to make electronic work diaries a voluntary alternative to logbooks.

The only mandatory use of telematics at present is for Higher Mass Limit vehicles using the Intelligent Access Program in NSW and Queensland.

However the ATA can’t see the need for the IAP.

For example David Coonan says there’s no difference in impact on local government roads between a 68-tonne HML B-double with well-maintained road friendly suspension, and a 62-tonner with the older steel type suspension.

And Coonan says if NSW and Queensland had invested in bridges in the 1990s as wisely as Victoria, they wouldn’t be as worried about them now. Even now, "most of the bridge issues are over-stated" he maintains.

Check out the next editions ATN and Owner//Driver for more on technology.

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