Chain of Responsibility


Chain of Responsibility for Heavy Vehicles

  • Obligations
  • promp sheet
  • executive officers

Chain of Responsibility Your Role

  • Your responsibilities
  • Primary duties
  • Managing fatigue risks
  • Maintenance
  • Loads in excess of legal limits
  • Managing speed

Everyone is in the driver’s seat 

When it comes to managing speed of heavy vehicles, everyone is in the driver’s seat. 

Responsibility for speeding offences extends from the steering wheel to the boardroom.

The HVNL prohibits any person from asking, directing or requiring a driver or other party in the supply chain, to enter into any contract or agreement that would reward, encourage or provide incentive to a driver to exceed speed limits.

If you work anywhere in the supply chain, you must take practical steps within your area of responsibility to ensure that you do not cause or influence drivers to exceed speed limits.

This applies to:

  • employers, operators and managers in relation to transport activities and business practices
  • schedulers in relation to delivery requirements and schedules or rosters
  • loading managers in relation to loading and unloading work practices and arrangements
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    consignors and consignees in relation to business practices for orders or deliveries.

Speed kills

Statistics show that speed is a causal factor in 40 per cent of fatal crashes, an aggravating factor in the severity of all crashes and, for every 5 km/h increase over the limit you travel in a 60 km/h speed zone, the risk of involvement in a casualty crash doubles.

The faster you drive:

  • the less time you have to respond to hazards
  • the harder it is to turn or take other evasive action
  • the vehicle travels further and takes longer to stop once you hit the brakes.

It is particularly important for heavy vehicles to reduce their speeds in lower speed zones, including highways, due to risks such as roadwork sites and increased traffic at intersections.

Heavy vehicles have additional rules

You need about 60 metres to safely stop a heavy vehicle being driven at 60 km per hour. Every extra touch on the accelerator adds metres to that distance.

For heavy vehicles in particular, speeding is not just an offence you could commit when you travel faster than the speed limit. Some states and territories apply limits to heavy vehicles that do not apply to other vehicles within the same speed zone.

Quite aside from exceeding legal speed limits, you are subject to dangerous driving offences if you travel at speeds that are unsafe for the load you are carrying or in certain road conditions, such as around corners, on steep descents, and in foggy, wet or icy conditions.

Fined, and you weren’t even driving!

Heavy vehicle drivers know and are constantly made aware of the safety risks of speeding. They also know about compliance costs: too many speeding offences puts them out of a livelihood because of the demerit points associated with speeding offences.

What transport and supply chain businesses need to understand is that speeding is not just a driver’s problem. Under CoR provisions within the HVNL, an employer, prime contractor or operator may be liable for a driver’s speeding offence unless they have done everything practical to prevent it from happening.

Don’t limit your speed limiters 

The fitting of speed limiter devices to certain types of heavy vehicles is mandatory. 

The HVNL requires that you maintain and operate these devices properly and makes it an offence for anyone to tamper with them.

Authorised officers conduct regular crackdowns on speed-limiter tampering and in some cases entire company fleets have been grounded.

CoR investigations start from the ground up 

Businesses that fail to manage speed may be subject to a CoR investigation. 

The trigger for an investigation might be an event on the ground, such as a driver committing a speeding offence, or information that safety is being compromised, but a CoR investigation can still lead to those at the top of the business.

Authorised officers conducting an investigation will require you to produce files and records to check whether your business practices and systems address speeding issues effectively or whether they breach compliance obligations.

If you are found to have breached HVNL requirements, you may be subject to actions or penalties ranging from formal warnings to an infringement notice or court action, depending on the severity of the offence.

Under the HVNL, offences are categorised according to the risk they present to safety and to road infrastructure.

If your systems are not addressing these issues satisfactorily, investigators can work with you to understand the risks inherent in your business. They can suggest measures you could take to minimise those risks, such as installing and operating new technologies or adopting new work practices.

Making time rather than beating the clock

Timeliness is core to the transport and supply chain industry based on tight production and delivery schedules.

Incentives to speed may exist if your business operates in a reactive way and you don’t adopt systems and processes to create predictable and reliable journey times.

Consider logistics operations as a whole, not just the time the driver needs to spend on the road. Bottlenecks or events throughout a journey can also cause unnecessary delays.

It is impossible to predict or plan for every possible pitfall on the road, but you can prevent many delays if you:

  • schedule realistic journey plans and allow for sufficient rest for drivers
  • identify high traffic periods and locations and build journey plans to work around them
  • have contingency plans to handle high traffic situations and other incidents
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    are aware of and share information about events or incidents that may lead to delays
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    use vehicle monitoring systems to alert drivers and supervisors when they are speeding
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    improve the efficiency of loading or unloading operations
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    keep vehicles well-maintained to reduce the chance of break-downs
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    keep other parties advised of unscheduled delays

Survival trumps early arrival 

It’s in the interest of your business and all within the heavy vehicle chain of responsibility to make sure staff involved in transport operations know their responsibilities. 

Delays are never good for business, but speeding isn’t an option for overcoming them.

Once you factor in the risk of incidents, crashes, and speeding offences, everyone involved in heavy vehicle operations have sound reasons to set up systems and adopt business practices that ensure drivers have no need to speed.

For more information

Telephone: 1300 MYNHVR (1300 696 487)*
Email: [email protected]