Risk-based inspections ideal, but still years away

By: Brad Gardner

NHVR wants trucks inspected according to risk profile, but concedes interim measures are needed first.

Risk-based inspections ideal, but still years away
National Heavy Vehicle Regulator CEO Sal Petroccitto.


The trucking industry should be subjected to risk-based heavy vehicle inspections, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) says.

NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto has penned a submission to the National Transport Commission (NTC) in support of state and territory governments adopting nationally standard inspection procedures that target individual trucks based on a number of factors.

These factors can include a vehicle’s age, the load it carries and the owner’s compliance history.  

"The NHVR supports the development of a risk-based approach to scheduled inspections. Adoption of a risk-based approach would reflect modern regulatory frameworks found in other safety based regimes," Petroccitto says.

He says the NHVR has already started work on collecting data to provide the information needed to build risk profiles, but adds that a risk-based scheme is unlikely to happen immediately.

"The NHVR expects that it will take a number of years to implement a full risk-based approach to heavy vehicle inspections," Petroccitto says.

Existing inspection and roadworthiness regimes vary across Australia, and jurisdictions have expressed support for keeping it that way. New South Wales, for example, currently has mandatory annual inspections whereas Victoria and Western Australia do not.

Until a risk-based approach is adopted, Petroccitto says the NHVR will support the NTC’s work on defining initial types of trucks that should be subjected to scheduled inspections based on the severity of likely outcomes of a crash.

But changes to the current set-up could have financial implications for the NHVR and jurisdictions, Petroccitto says.

"The introduction of a national risk-based approach to heavy vehicle inspections will impact on the cost of national regulation," he says.

"The NHVR welcomes the opportunity to continue to work with the NTC on identifying the implementation and ongoing operational costs that will arise from any changes to the roadworthiness regulatory framework."

While jurisdictions have expressed a level of interest in risk-based inspections, they have not committed to introducing them.  

Victorian road agency VicRoads says it intends to keep in place its current system that inspects a vehicle regardless of its likelihood of having a defect.

NSW wants to ensure all heavy vehicles are inspected, except those enrolled in the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme (NHVAS).

Meanwhile, the Northern Territory believes establishing and running a risk-based inspection model will be difficult and financially expensive.

The NTC conducted a review of heavy vehicle roadworthiness and inspection standards following the fatal 2013 crash north of Sydney involving a Cootes Transport tanker.

Subsequent compliance campaigns against Cootes in NSW and Victoria found a litany of defects in its fleet despite the company being enrolled in NHVAS at the time.

The NTC has proposed a number of reforms, including nationally consistent inspection standards and extending chain of responsibility to cover heavy vehicle maintenance, which Petroccitto says the NHVR supports.

The NTC will present a final suite of recommendations to transport ministers in July.


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