OPINION: Get involved in the Heavy Vehicle National Law Review

By: Rod Hannifey


This review is the biggest since logbooks were introduced.

OPINION: Get involved in the Heavy Vehicle National Law Review
Work diary...is it due for a shakeup?

 

We have over 600 pages telling us what to do and how to do it and that we will be punished severely if we don’t.

Does this law make you safer on the road, as surely, that should be its’ intent?

It should aim to keep you as a driver of a heavy vehicle safe on the road, but it completely ignores those who cause the majority of car/ truck crashes, the car drivers.

Not only does it ignore them, it also ignores the roads we drive on and the fact they not only can contribute to such crashes, they impact on our fatigue, our bodies and the damage to vehicles, which can again, be contributing factors to some crashes.

The HVNL is so onerous and complicated, many drivers struggle with the complexity of the laws and then on top of that again, we have the intent of the law and then the interpretation of those who police it on the side of the road.

The next hurdle is that should  you be deemed so ignorant or arrogant to break one of these laws, but you disagree with the issuing officer and believe you have been unfairly fined, you can ask for a review, but again if that is not successful, you have to go to court, to try and prove your innocence.

The issuing officer, should they book you in another state to where you live, knows for you to fight any charge, will likely cost you a fortune and more often than not, more than the cost of the ticket, to fight it.

Time off work, travel and accommodation, then representation costs if you employ someone to defend you, as we are not all lawyers and don’t all have that full knowledge of the law and legal system to ensure we get a fair hearing and a just outcome.

I believe we should have a body or panel where you can apply even if by video, to explain and get a fair go, if you think you have been unjustly fined.

On the other side, if we are completely honest, we probably get away with some minor mistakes here and there, but are they truly criminal intent and even further, do they really affect road safety?

Should not that safety on the road, be the desired outcome, not just simply being able to punish someone for working 15 minutes too long, as they wanted to get to a better roadhouse or rest area?

My view is that these laws are designed, delivered and policed, by those who do not have to live by them and who have no idea of living on the road.

They may well have excellent educational qualifications and the aim of keeping all safe on the road including truckies, but we do not get a say, we have been ignored and none of our representative bodies have been able to get much change over the last 30 years.

Moreover, it seems whenever something tragic happens on the road, those responsible for the law and the pollies, who have to then be seen to do something, come up with more laws and bigger penalties to punish us, without ever really looking at the problems behind the tragic loss of life on our roads.

Have you contributed or were you even aware of this review? Why are there not posters in every truckstop in Australia telling drivers about this opportunity to contribute and be heard to gain a better law and improved safety on the road?

Unfortunately, many drivers I talk to say when they get out of the truck at the end of the day, they don’t want to hear any more truck talk.

Many say they and others have tried before to get things changed and improved, with nothing actually achieved and I do agree, they have good grounds to be cynical and disheartened.

Many say nothing has changed and do not read industry press, so how will they know about this and get the chance to contribute?

When first announced, I asked for this to be a simple process, to allow and encourage drivers to contribute.

That is not what we have and whilst I do understand the need to do it right, I have spent up to 7 hours or more, reading and responding to each of the first four of a total of eight documents, close to a weeks work time, for some.

How many of you have that time available and how many will put in that effort?

Yes, you can add a comment up to a tweet size, you can answer a survey, but you have to log in and the reason why I wanted it simple, is that we are all time poor, do not have internet everywhere on the road or, the ability to sit and read 70 pages and then dissect and respond as needed to get our message across.

The ATA and others have agreed with me it is not the best way to get drivers involved, but it may well be the best and or last decent chance you will have to see our HVNL changed and or improved.

If you don’t have the time, but have one critical issue, one that you think should change, you can contact the ATA directly and they have been given the ability to contribute directly to the review through the ATA and I welcome this opportunity, but to me, it has not been sufficiently publicised and I want more truckies to contribute.

If only ten of us contribute, do you honestly think we will be taken seriously?

Whereas if 100 truckies complained and said for one example, that we should be able to have split rest twice a week not on consecutive days, or that hours should only be counted from the LAST major rest break.

They would then be far more likely to listen. Please ask your mates do they know of the review, will they contribute, even if only through the ATA or QTA or your state or group association. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

Head to hvnlreview.ntc.gov.au/have-your-say and leave a comment, unless of course you’re happy with the Heavy Vehicle National Law in its entirety.

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