Australia Post establishes safety partnership with the Australian Trucking Association

Australia Post has announced a four-year partnership with the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) with a focus on safety on the roads.

The announcement coincides with National Road Safety Week, and includes a $200,000 sponsorship pledge for the rebranded Volvo ATA Safety Truck.

According to Australia Post, the partnership will have a focus on educating drivers on how to share the road safely with heavy vehicles through hands-on informative, small group presentations and virtual reality technology.

Australia Post Group Chief Operating Officer Bob Black said the new arrangement showcases Australia Post’s focus on road safety education, especially among younger drivers.

“We are always looking for ways to keep our people and communities safe. Every year over 1,200 people are killed and 35,000 seriously injured on our roads,” Bob said.

“Last year we experienced 768 road injuries across our workforce nationally. That means every workday three posties are injured in motor vehicle accidents – that is three posties too many.

“This is an important partnership to help end road incidents and trauma – especially involving heavy vehicles which are a big part of our network.”

Australian Trucking Association CEO Ben Maguire said the ATA was thrilled to have Australia Post’s support for this educational and behavioural change campaign, with the new truck set to be on the roads in October 2019.

“Official estimates show that about 80 per cent of fatal multi-vehicle crashes involving trucks are not the fault of the truck driver. 25 per cent of occupants involved in a casualty crash with a truck are aged 26 years or younger, however this age group only represents only 10 to 15 per cent of the driver population,” Mr Maguire said.

“Australia Post’s support for this project demonstrates a commitment to road safety and a shared vision of zero fatal or serious injury crashes on our roads.”

Labor to review ‘exorbitant’ port surcharges

Peak body Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) has welcomed the State Opposition’s support to stop ‘exorbitant’ port surcharges unfairly imposed on truck operators at Port Botany and its pledge to work with RFNSW in a review of exemptions for the luxury-vehicle tax.
Opposition Leader Michael Daley and Shadow Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Jodi McKay said landside prices and charges had ‘escalated rapidly without explanation or justification’ and promised to put an end to ‘unfettered and unfair pricing practices’ at the port, if elected on Saturday.
“On behalf of our members, RFNSW is pleased the Opposition has listened and acted on the concerns of our members. It’s time industry had a fair and robust price monitoring system at the port,” RFNSW’s chief executive Simon O’Hara said.
“For over two years now, RFNSW has been fighting hard to raise awareness of these mounting surcharges imposed by the stevedores and their crippling financial impact on truck operators. It’s out of control.
“We’ve said all along there must be an independent body called in to regulate infrastructure and other landside charges, which is why we welcome the Opposition’s pledge to formalise the involvement of IPART in the setting of port charges.”
Mr O’Hara said RFNSW was pleased that Ms McKay had responded to industry concerns over the luxury vehicle tax, stating that the ALP would maintain ‘all current exemptions and concessions, including those for heavy trailers.’
“Following our ongoing advocacy and dialogue on behalf of our members, Ms McKay has assured us that the Opposition is committed to a review of those exemptions, in order to protect the trucking industry and will work with RFNSW as part of that review,” he added.

TWU redraws the battle lines over RSRT

The TWU says hundreds of truck drivers and their supporters protested on an April weekend in all major capitals as a new survey shows 93% of drivers want to see changes to make transport safer and less pressured.
Drivers sat on Oxford Street in Sydney and marched in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth in a stark message to the Federal Government, which shut down a road safety watchdog two years ago, “allowing wealthy retailers like Aldi to financially squeeze transport”, the TWU said.
The driver survey shows almost 93% of drivers also say pressure on them is continuing or increasing, with drivers listing the financial squeeze from major supermarkets and manufacturers, bad roads, unsafe truck stops and unrealistic deadlines major sources of pressure. Over 1,000 drivers responded to the survey, which was conducted following police blitzes on trucks after a spate of crashes.
The survey comes two years after the Federal Government shut down the watchdog that was investigating safety in trucking and holding major companies to account for low cost contracts which means their goods cannot be delivered safely.
“Two years ago the Federal Government scrapped scrutiny and accountability on the major manufacturers and retailers like Aldi over poor rates in their supply chains. This financial pressure means that trucks are not being maintained and drivers are being pushed to speed, drive long hours and skip mandatory rest breaks. This is devastating families across Australia because of truck crashes and it means drivers are copping all the blame for problems in the industry,” TWU acting national secretary Michael Kaine said.
“The only response from the Federal Government to the spike in deaths has been to increase the number of speed cameras to catch drivers and to have police fine them over breaches. This will not solve the problems in the industry and it will not cut the number of crashes. Unless wealthy clients are held to account for low cost contracts the problem in this industry will only worsen,” Mr Kaine added.
Industry not convinced
The TWU’s traditional enemies the (large) industry body the Australian Logistics Council and the transport owners’ Australian Trucking Association (ATA) have predictably come out against the idea of reinstating the RSRT.
The ATA has outright dismissed calls for its reinstatement, ATA chairman Geoff Crouch saying the TWU claims there has been 92 per cent increase in truck crashes in NSW since the watchdog was shut down, but there is no correlation between the two.
“In 2017, the number of deaths in NSW from crashes involving articulated trucks like semitrailers increased dramatically but we know most of the increase in deaths was in multi-vehicle crashes, 80 per cent of which were not the fault of the truck driver,” Mr Crouch said.
“In the same period, no other states or territories experienced an increase in fatal crashes involving articulated trucks, with the majority seeing significant decreases.
“Transport owners and operators have told us the devastating impact of the RSRT included financial hardship, increased debt, reduced equipment values, widespread uncertainty and significant stress on families, relationships and mental health,” Mr Crouch said.
“The ATA backs recent comments from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry that say reinstating the RSRT is a backwards step. The transport industry is essential to the fabric that holds the Australian economy together and they deserve better.
Similarly, the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) said suggestions that the former Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) should be reconstituted within the Fair Work Commission are part of a continuing industrial campaign that will do nothing to improve heavy vehicle safety.
“Improving heavy vehicle safety is an enormously important national objective – and it should not be conflated with a continuing industrial campaign within some sections of the industry,” said ALC managing director Michael Kilgariff.
“ALC continues to believe that the most effective way to enhance safety in the heavy vehicle industry is by achieving greater compliance with, and enforcement of, the Chain of Responsibility (CoR) provisions in the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).”
“These CoR provisions will be significantly strengthened and enhanced by changes due to come into effect later this year, and our focus should be on ensuring compliance with those changes. That is why ALC has been working in partnership with the Australian Trucking Association for the past year to develop an industry-wide Master Code for heavy vehicle safety, capable of becoming a registered industry code of practice under the HVNL,” Mr Kilgariff noted.

Automated vehicles get the green light in Victoria

File photo.

Legislation has passed the Victorian Parliament this week that allows driverless vehicles to be trialled across the state.
Under the changes to the Road Safety Act, VicRoads will be able to grant permits to individuals or organisations wanting to conduct on road trials of automated vehicles.
The government believes this legislation will encourage national and international industry leaders to develop this emerging technology in Victoria, which will mean more jobs and opportunities for Victorians.
Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan has also announced a $9 million grant program for researchers and industry, as part of the Towards Zero Road Strategy and Action Plan.
These grants will support the development of vehicles with connected and automated technology and safety features.
“Victoria is at the forefront of autonomous vehicle technology and these changes will allow our best and brightest to continue to drive transport innovation, Mr Donellan said.
“Automated vehicles will be a game-changer for Victorian roads – initially reducing and ultimately eliminating human driver error.”
Under the new laws, all driverless vehicle trials will require a human supervisor to monitor the vehicle from either inside or outside the vehicle.
Once it has been established a vehicle can drive safely, this condition may be removed to allow the vehicle to drive in automated mode in limited circumstances without a supervisor.
VicRoads acting deputy chief executive Robyn Seymour said: “We’re excited to support trials of automated vehicles, which will revolutionise the way we travel and move around our communities.”

Let’s save a thousand lives

In an open letter to Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, Michael Byrne, managing director of the Toll Group calls for the Government to urgently address six critical areas needed to improve road safety on Australian roads.
“Dear Prime Minister,
Recent media reports have highlighted what we in the transport industry already know all too well – Australia has a dire road safety problem. In the five years to 2016, more than 1,000 people were killed in truck crashes. Our approach to heavy vehicles in this country is core to tackling this issue.
We have heard from many experts across government and academia on what needs to be done to improve road safety, and we thank them for their important contributions. I write to you to as the leader of Australia’s largest transport and logistics company, Toll Group, and the former leader of Linfox, the second largest transport company. I’ve worked in the trucking business since I was 13 years old, and am a second generation industry veteran with my mother having run a highly successful transport business.
I offer you a different perspective to this important discussion on what must be done to improve safety on our roads. I bring you an operator’s perspective.
We must begin by addressing six critical areas.
Firstly, we must have one rule book across Australia. Starting with the basics – we are yet to have a consistent definition of what a ‘heavy vehicle’ is. Sometimes it’s a vehicle above 12 tonnes (for work and rest hours), sometimes above 12 tonnes and manufactured after 1997 (for speed limiters – except in NSW), and sometimes a vehicle above 4.5 tonnes (mass, dimension and load restraint). Compliance starts with clarity of the rules. A truck should be any vehicle 4.5 tonnes and above. Period.
On the life and death matter of driver fatigue, our current state-based system allows drivers to drive for up to 17 hours in a 24 hour period in Western Australia and up to 18 hours in the Northern Territory – a workday that would be illegal for a driver in any other state. This leaves time for a maximum of only 6 to 7 hours of rest in a 24 hour period – resulting in the physiological equivalent of a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05. We do not accept drunk driving. We should not accept fatigued driving.
Further, the maximum speed limit for trucks between 4.5 and 12 tonne varies from 100 km/h in NSW to 130 km/h in the Northern Territory. Any truck driver making the slightest error in judgement at 130 km/h will certainly have a devastating outcome for the driver and anyone unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity.
It is time for a genuinely national approach to heavy vehicle regulation, including for heavy vehicle driver licensing. A national driver licensing system can stipulate the skills and competencies required to safely drive a heavy vehicle, including how to restrain a load and how to fill out a work diary. A genuinely national system would mean that licence cancellation in one state means cancellation in all states. A targeted strategy will attract new drivers, arrest the decline in competent drivers and provide a career path for driving professionals.

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator was supposed to deliver one rule book. It hasn’t.

Western Australia and the Northern Territory have refused to sign up to the national law. And so today Australian road freight operators are subject to multiple and overlapping rules at the local council, state and national level. Let’s look to aviation for inspiration on how this can be achieved. This industry is subject to one set of rules. No exceptions. We must follow.
Secondly, we must introduce an operator licensing system. Where operators in maritime, rail and aviation must all demonstrate their safety and competence before they can operate, in road transport virtually anyone with a truck, a driver and an ABN can be a road freight operator. This makes Australia unusual: most comparable countries have an operator licensing system for road transport. For example, in the UK, road transport operators must pass a ‘fit and proper’ person test, prove they have the funds to maintain vehicles, and employ transport managers who understand what compliance looks like.
Third, the solution to the road toll cannot and will not come solely from industry. The community, government, enforcement and road safety bodies must do their part too. Through NTI data, we know that in 93% of fatalities involving a truck, the other party was at fault. Yet national and state road safety strategies are silent on how light vehicle drivers can ‘share the road’ safely with trucks. There is an opportunity to ensure that drivers are educated on driving safely around trucks, such as safe stopping distances and over-taking, as part of licensing schemes.
Fourth, by pulling the right policy levers, government can incentivise and reward safe behaviours from heavy vehicle operators. Discounted registration and stamp duty fees could be offered to operators with sound safety records. Government can also mandate investment in newer, safer more sustainable fleet. Technologies such as autonomous emergency braking systems, lane departure warning systems and electronic stability control can save up to 104 lives per year but are taking too long to become standard in the fleet. The average age of a heavy rigid truck in Australia is 15.7 years. The average age of an articulated truck is 11.9 years. An operator licensing system could stipulate a maximum vehicle age or offer subsidies/incentives to safe operators to deploy these lifesaving technologies.
Fifth, mandate telematics, which includes GPS and black box technology, for all new heavy vehicles. Enforcement of the rules is tough in Australia because of the vast  distances between towns. There are not enough police to catch every driver and operator who puts other road users at risk. Mandatory telematics on every vehicle will identify operators that systematically and deliberately speed, overload vehicles and push fatigue limits. Removing operators who refuse to do the right thing protects the community and allows good operators to remain competitive.
Finally, we must ensure that operators such as Toll Group are actively engaged in any debate and policy development pertaining to road safety and heavy vehicles. Any discussion on heavy vehicle regulation must draw on private sector expertise to truly understand how we can overcome the obstacles that are holding us back from creating safer roads for our community.
To recap, I call on the government to make the following six points a priority to affect real improvements in driving the road toll down:

  • Have one rule book for heavy vehicles and heavy vehicle drivers across the country. No variations, no exceptions. This must cover a standard definition of a heavy vehicle as well as a national approach to:
  1. Mandatory stationary rest times for heavy vehicle drivers, speed limits for heavy vehicles and a driver.
  2. The licencing system.
  • Introduce a national operator licencing system.
  • Enhance community understanding of how to drive safely around trucks, including through the graduated licensing system and education campaigns.
  • Incentivise and reward safe, modern fleets with life-saving technologies.
  • Make telematics mandatory for regulatory purposes.
  • Draw on private sector expertise from transport operators in any discussion on improving road safety outcomes pertaining to heavy vehicles.

I am sending this letter to all road and road safety ministers across Australia with the view to driving collaboration across governments. As Australia’s largest provider of road freight logistics, Toll stands ready to work with all governments to make these six points a reality.
In our view, we don’t need any further research, studies and committees. We have immediate, critical opportunities before us today that, when implemented, will save lives. We know what needs to be done. It is time for action.”

Blockchain in Transport standards to remain open

At its third meeting as a group, the BiTA board made a decision that it believes will have a profound impact on the proliferation of blockchain technology in transport and with it, potentially altering the transport business forever.
The whole call was dedicated to discussing intellectual property rights and how the group would see these rights working and what licensing arrangements would exist. The board decided that open standards would truly be open and anyone who used the BiTA standard would not have to pay for the rights.
The following is what the BiTA board has said:
“This is profound, and not a typical approach that happens in technology standards organisations. By making the standards royalty free, it essentially means that anyone and everyone can have access to them, without having to pay a third party for using them.
“Consider it a victory for freedom and the transportation industry, because it means that BiTA’s standards intellectual property will be available for everyone to access and take advantage of, without having to license it from some group that collects payments.
“This was a real test for the young organisation. Had it had gone differently and had the group chosen to restrict the use of standards or to charge for them, it would have likely meant a very different outcome. You could compare the work of BiTA to that of the Internet Society that in 1992 created the IP address standards and also pushed for it to be open. Had that group chosen differently, the outcome for the internet might have been quite different.
“The makeup of the board likely weighed heavily into the outcome. Fortunately, the board was not set up to be heavily weighted toward one industry vertical. In fact, it’s the only transportation organisation where vendors, banks, insurance companies, accountants, lawyers, 3PL, carriers, technology conglomerates, start-ups, and shippers all have an equal voice. The board also fits this definition. The BiTA board is comprised of FedEx, UPS, P&S, Triumph, McLeod Software, Trimble, TransRisk, Salesforce, Echo Global Logistics, and Kleinschmidt. All of these companies have different business models, but the beauty is all are equally focused on solving major issues in the transport space.
“Unlike other attempts at creating market standards in transportation, the fact that BiTA is driven by industry and built to work across platforms is important. The fallacy in many technology standards driven solely by technology companies is that the standards they create are driven by a single company’s commercial goals – the technology company ends up owning the intellectual property (and perhaps patenting it) and the same companies that participated in the discussions end up having to pay the same company to license it. That outcome hardly seems in the interest of participants in the organisation.
“The membership of BiTA continues to swell. With over 1,100 applications into the transport standards group, representing nearly $1 trillion of global transport revenues, the group has some significant weight in the industry and any standard that the group chooses to adopt is likely to become market standard.”
For more information visit www.bita.studio.
 

Are trucks paying the toll road charge twice?

Linfox has launched a test case to clarify the term ‘public road’ in the Fuel Tax Act 2006 to ensure that heavy vehicles are claiming the correct number of fuel tax credits on fuel used for business activity.
The test case is limited to a challenge on a very narrow area of the legislation, section 43-10(3) of the Fuel Tax Act 2006, which states:
“To the extent you acquire… fuel to use, in a vehicle, for travelling on a public road, the amount of your fuel tax credit is reduced by the amount of the road user charge for the fuel.”
The term ‘public road’ is not defined in The Act and is critical to the application of the road user charge that is used to fund government repairs to public highways.
Currently, a truck travelling on a toll road pays the road user charge for this journey, even though toll road repairs are not funded by the government. The Commissioner of Taxation takes the view that a toll road is a public road for the purposes of applying the road user charge. Linfox estimates that 10% of its journeys use a toll road.
Consulting with the Commissioner of Taxation on this issue, the parties agreed that a court judgement would be the best way to clarify this issue.
To illustrate its case, Linfox is contending that the M2 toll road in New South Wales does not meet the description ‘public road’ and therefore the company has been incorrectly reducing the amount of fuel tax credits it has been entitled to through applying the road user charge.
If successful, Linfox will be entitled to seek a refund of any fuel tax credits that have been under-claimed. The decision would also mean that any other taxpayers using fuel on any roads that do not meet the term ‘public road’ would also be eligible for refunds.
This is a case no doubt all truck operators will be watching closely.

No trucks in the RH lane on Monash

Photo courtesy of the ABC.

Trucks are to be banned from the far right-hand lane on the Monash Freeway in a trial.
From Monday 5 February, restrictions will apply to trucks travelling in both directions on the Monash Freeway between Huntingdale Road, Mount Waverley and Jacksons Road, Noble Park.
Truck lane restrictions improve safety by reducing the number of lane changes undertaken by cars and trucks, according to the Victorian Government.
Acting Premier Tim Pallas said: “We know that the most common cause of crashes on the Monash involve lane changes and side swipes – we want to see this reduced and that’s what this trial is all about.”
Permanent restrictions currently apply along the Princes Highway from Melbourne to Geelong and along sections of the Eastern Freeway.
This trial will specifically test the effectiveness of lane restrictions on the Monash Freeway, which has the highest concentration of heavy vehicles of any freeway or highway in Victoria.
Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan said: “The Monash is the perfect place for this trial – over 200,000 trips are made by drivers on the Monash Freeway each day with 40,000 of those made by heavy vehicles.”
The trial ban of trucks from the far right-hand lane is the second stage of an overall project to try and improve safety on the Monash Freeway, after a separate trial of reduced speed limits for heavy vehicles concluded in March 2017.
Feedback from the 9-month trial will help inform the decision of whether to permanently apply the restrictions and can be provided at www.engage.vicroads.vic.gov.au/monashfreeway.
Drivers are reminded to keep a safe distance behind other vehicles at all times and not to cut in front of heavy vehicles which require much longer braking distances.
If drivers need to travel below the speed limit, they should always drive in the left-hand lanes to improve traffic flow by allowing trucks and other vehicles to travel at the speed limit without changing lanes.

Former ATA Chair joins freight and supply chain panel

Former Australian Trucking Association (ATA) Chair David Simon will sit on expert panel supporting the Australian Government’s National Freight and Supply Chain Inquiry.
The Hon. Darren Chester, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, announced the appointment on 17 May, in a speech about transforming Australia’s freight and rail network.
Current ATA Chair Geoff Crouch said the appointment shows that the Australian Government recognises the importance of trucking operators to moving the national freight task.
“Trucking operators are critical to the national supply chain, and increasing the productivity of trucking makes the supply chain more competitive, reducing costs for consumers, industry and exporters,” said Crouch.
“The ATA and its member associations are working on the issues and proposals that need to be made to the inquiry to boost productivity and safety for our industry.
David Simon is the Executive Chairman of Simon National Carriers and was Chair of the ATA from 2010 to 2014. He also served as a member of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) project implementation board and the Heavy Vehicle Charging and Investment reform board.

Inland Rail funding could be spent on shipping, says MUA

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) has stated that it feels that some of the money earmarked for the $8.4 billion Melbourne-to-Brisbane Inland Rail project could be better spent on investment in Australia’s coastal shipping sector.
MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said that while the MUA agrees Australia should be trying to get trucks off the roads, the sea offers the best alternative.
“Port infrastructure already exists in Australia and coastal shipping leaves the lowest carbon footprint when it comes to moving goods around our coast,” Crumlin said.
“This package from the Government looks a lot like pork-barrelling by the Coalition to protect their inland seats through regional Victoria, NSW and Queensland as they desperately try to stave off the threat from One Nation and other parties.”
“A strong domestic shipping fleet makes absolute sense from a national security, fuel security, and environmental standpoint,” Crumlin added.

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