Victoria won't support formal warnings for truck defects

By: Brad Gardner

Victoria cites safety and legal concerns for not supporting formal warnings as an alternative to defect notices.

Victoria won't support formal warnings for truck defects


Notices for heavy vehicle defects will continue to be handed out in Victoria, with the state saying it has no plans to issue formal warnings as an alternative.

The state’s road transport regulator, VicRoads, has raised safety and legal concerns for its opposition to formal warnings, which are used in other states for minor defects.

VicRoads officers can currently issue verbal warnings to drivers about defects.

"There is not sufficient evidence that the introduction of formal warnings as an alternative to defect notices will have a positive impact on heavy vehicle roadworthiness," the department says.

"In Victoria there is currently no process in place for the issuing of formal warnings, only verbal warnings are issued. There is not sufficient evidence that the introduction of formal warnings as an alternative to defect notices will have a positive impact on heavy vehicle roadworthiness.

"There is concern regarding legal and safety ramifications if, for example, a formal warning is issued to a heavy vehicle by an enforcement officer, and then that vehicle is later involved in a serious crash before action is taken to satisfy the requirements of the formal warning."

The comments are contained in VicRoads’ official response to the National Transport Commission’s (NTC) regulatory impact statement on potential reforms to existing heavy vehicle roadworthiness, inspection and accreditation standards.

In its submission, which also rejects a move to mandatory annual heavy vehicle inspections, VicRoads cites a lack of resources as another reason why formal warnings cannot be used in Victoria.

"Questions arise around how, without supporting data systems, formal warnings could be centrally collected and distributed to other enforcement officers in Victoria and other jurisdictions," it says.

"Victoria currently does not have data systems to ensure that enforcement officers are rapidly alerted to the issuing of a formal warning, let alone extending this nationally."

The Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL), which Victoria is a signatory to, currently allows for formal warnings to be issued instead of a defect notice for minor vehicle defects.

The NHVR says formal warnings may be issued for some minor defects that do not pose a safety risk.

Specific conditions must be met for a formal warning to be issued, including that the defect is non-safety related and simple to repair.

Those issued with a formal warning must repair the defect in the time specified. No official follow-up or clearance from authorities is required, unlike in the case of defect notices.

Victoria’s stance is unlikely to sit well with the trucking industry, which wants a nationally consistent approach toward heavy vehicle defect standards.

The Australian Trucking Association wants jurisdictions operating under the HVNL (Victoria, NSW, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT) to agree on a formal process for issuing, clearing and withdrawing defect notices.

Released in January for feedback, the NTC’s study details possible reforms to roadworthiness standards, including risk-based inspections and harmonised processes across borders.

Final recommendations will be handed to Australia’s transport ministers in July.


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