Heavy vehicle inspections can save lives

A new report from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator and Australia’s largest trucking insurance company has confirmed a link between major safety incidents and how well heavy vehicles are maintained by owners.

The NTARC Major Accident Investigation Report was produced by National Transport Insurance (NTI) using the results from the NHVR’s 2016 National Roadworthiness Baseline Survey.

By comparing vehicle inspection data and insurance claims, the study confirmed that operators who effectively maintain their vehicles are less likely to be involved in an incident.

The report found there was a 29 per cent increase in the frequency and a 22 per cent increase in the cost of claims for transport companies with poorly maintained couplings.

For wheel and tyre defects, the frequency of claims was 32 per cent higher than the baseline while the costs were 26 per cent higher. The findings weren’t a great surprise to the NHVR.

Our frontline staff have always known that if they see a truck with a bald tyre, they should investigate further, whether that means checking the load restraint or driver’s work diary. However, until now there’s been little expert research to prove the link between vehicle maintenance and major incidents.

The NTARC Major Accident Investigation Report proves the value of the information that the NHVR obtained in the 2016 National Roadworthiness Baseline Survey, which came from 7,130 vehicle inspections conducted in every Australian state and territory with the exception of Western Australia.

Five years after that inaugural survey, the NHVR is undertaking a second Roadworthiness Survey (NRS) to assess the condition of Australia’s heavy vehicle fleet. Over the next 12 weeks, around 8,000 heavy vehicles will be inspected by the NHVR and our partner agencies in every state and territory in the nation.

The NRS will allow us to assess the mechanical condition of Australia’s heavy vehicle fleet and help shape future initiatives to improve the safety and productivity of the industry.

These are important goals – not just for the NHVR, but for the whole transport industry, the broader supply chain and the Australian public.

I appreciate the survey may cause some disruption for the drivers and operators whose vehicles are stopped, so the officers will carry out inspections as efficiently as possible.

Each vehicle will undergo a detailed visual inspection and some mechanical testing by authorised officers using inspection trailers and brake-testing equipment.

We promise that once a vehicle has been inspected, it will not be inspected again in this NRS.

The NHVR is aware of supply chain demands and that drivers work to tight schedules, so I thank all businesses and individuals who will be impacted by the survey for their co-operation with our officers.

Random vehicle inspections are inconvenient, but any exercise that helps to improve our understanding of road safety could save lives.

The results in the 2021 NRS will allow us to assess the impact of safety initiatives implemented since 2016 and identify the areas that need more focus. And we won’t be keeping the information to ourselves.

The results will be publicly released and made available to jurisdictions and industry bodies with an interest in heavy vehicle safety.

We know we can’t improve heavy vehicle safety by ourselves. Once again, I thank you in advance for your cooperation on this important safety initiative.

Sal Petroccitto,

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