Austroads updates heavy vehicle road access guidelines

Austroads has published a report reviewing heavy vehicle road access guidelines and tools used by state and local government road managers across Australia and New Zealand.

The report contains a decision-making framework designed to ensure managers consistently and efficiently benefit from the use of these tools.

Heavy vehicle access approval conditions vary across Australian jurisdictions. The Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) provides the overarching regulatory framework for heavy vehicle access in terms of mass, dimension and loading.

The HVNL has been adopted, with some derogation, in most states and the Australian Capital Territory. Western Australia and the Northern Territory have not adopted the HVNL and decisions on road access are made under jurisdictional law. New Zealand also operates under its own regime.

“The report provides road managers with a level of clarity on heavy vehicle decision-making processes across Australia and New Zealand,” said Austroads Program Manager Transport Network Operations, Richard Delplace.

“It identifies common approaches and differences, enabling road managers to consider and apply this information in their own jurisdictions.”

The report also examines supporting literature including domestic research reports and international practices.

Austroads claims consultation was extensive, consisting of interviews and a survey of all Australian and New Zealand jurisdictional road managers, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), local government agencies and industry associations.

Stakeholders reportedly supported the project, agreeing that consistent decision making provides an overall systemic efficiency and enables safety issues regarding heavy vehicle road access to be consistently assessed.

According to Austroads, the report is a resource repository for jurisdictions and particularly local government, which generally does not have the same resources as state and territory road managers.

“Local government should find the guidance material, processes and tools very useful, especially as the information is all located in one place,” said Austroads Project Lead, Drew Gaynor.

The report recommends that:

• Jurisdictions review the guidance material, identify any gaps in their assessment practices and consider harmonising practices with other jurisdictions.
• All relevant guidance tools and supporting documents in this report are placed on the Austroads website and a governance process is developed to ensure their continued currency and relevance.
• For HVNL regime jurisdictions, separate Restricted Access Vehicle assessment guidelines should be developed for each of Classes 1, 2 and 3, drawing from road manager tools, NHVR guidance publications and other assessment documents.
• NHVR, and jurisdictional and local government road managers, investigate developing a network assessment model predominately for Class 2 heavy vehicles, but also for other classes for HVNL regime jurisdictions.
• In HVNL regime jurisdictions, further research be conducted on how to provide support and resources to assist local government agencies in making informed and efficient decisions on heavy vehicle access.
The report also highlights potential future work in developing guidelines and further tools that all jurisdictions could use, particularly HVNL jurisdictions.

These guidelines would, according to Austroads, assist heavy vehicle operators who are seeking consistent and timely decision making with respect to access and compliance across jurisdictions.

Austroads said it will progress this project further throughout 2020-21.

Earlier this year, Austroads tackled road transport decarbonisation.

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