NSW road authority says it wants to avoid court cases when it comes to chain of responsibility offences.
New South Wales’ road transport authority has a reputation for hounding non-compliant trucking companies and clients, but the agency says it prefers working with offenders to rectify breaches instead of launching legal action.
RMS director of safety and compliance Peter Wells says the work involved in prosecuting a chain of responsibility case is time consuming and expensive, which has led to the organisation to prefer issuing improvement notices when a breach is detected.
Wells detailed the RMS’ favoured approach during his appearance at this year’s Chain of Responsibility and Heavy Vehicle Safety Conference.
“The enforcement effort should be relatively modest and next effort. So by the time we have a team investigate, it’s relatively expensive. It takes a lot of time, we brief our various legal friends, so we’re off to court,” he says.
“It is a lot of time and money [and] it is heavy on the organisation, so we want to if at all possible to persuade people to abide by the law. So we try and put a lot of effort into advocacy and persuasion to have people clearly understand the rules.”
RMS general manager of compliance operations Paul Endycott appeared alongside Wells and told the conference the RMS has had a lot of success with improvement notices, which specify the breach the company or individual needs to address. Once it issues the notice, the RMS then returns at a later date to see if the company has complied.
“That gets us compliance very quickly, and working with companies has shown great changes that those companies have been able to implement and get on with it so they can spend their money where it needs to be spent – in compliance and improvements rather than courts,” Endycott says.
“We like to be able to engage senior executives of companies to inform them of what we have found and make them aware, which enables their managers and staff underneath to take corrective action. And we would rather be sitting and talking at a discussion table than, in many instances, at a bar table with barristers arguing it out in court, costing everybody a lot of money.”
The RMS, however, takes a much harsher stance toward speed limiter tampering, which Wells describes as “evil”.
“If you are going to have speed limiter tampering, expect to be off the road at our leisure when we say you’re safe to be back on the road,” he says.
“We see it as a pretty evil practice because of the safety side, but also commercially you’re really stealing out of the pockets of someone that is operating honestly and is spending the actual time to drive to the legal limit. So it distorts the market in a very negative way.”
Wells says tampering was rife when the RMS began focusing on it a few years ago, but a number of compliance operations conducted alongside NSW Police have significantly reduced its prevalence.
Photography: Brad Gardner