Heavy Vehicle National Law (NSW): Major Reforms to Road Transport Legislation

With the recent commencement of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (NSW), a further step has been taken in the major reform to the road transport legislation that started nine months ago with the commencement of the Road Transport Act 2013 (RTA) on 1 July 2013. The RTA consolidated much of the previous road transport legislation into one act.

One of the previous acts, The Road Transport (General) Act 2005 (RTG), continued, albeit re-named the Road Transport (Vehicle and Driver Management) Act 2005 (RTVDMA), reflecting the fact that although under its previous iteration it dealt with “general” road transport provisions and heavy vehicles, the “general” provisions were now in the RTA and the RTVDMA focused on heavy vehicles. The RTVDMA continued, pending the adoption of the Heavy Vehicle National Law.

The reforms were recently completed with the commencement of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (NSW) on 10 February 2014 and the repeal of the RTVDMA.

Thus the four key road transport acts of the 1990s have been reduced to two and a more logical division has been achieved between that legislation that is of general driver application and that legislation that is specific to regulating the use of heavy vehicles on roads. The relevant NSW heavy vehicle legislation is:

  1. Heavy Vehicle (Adoption of National Law) Act 2013 No 42
  2. Heavy Vehicle National Law (NSW) No 42a
  3. Heavy Vehicle (Adoption of National Law) Regulation 2013
  4. Heavy Vehicle (Fatigue Management) National Regulation (NSW)
  5. Heavy Vehicle (General) National Regulation (NSW)
  6. Heavy Vehicle (Mass, Dimension and Loading) National Regulation (NSW)
  7. Heavy Vehicle (Vehicle Standards) National Regulation (NSW)

Repealed were the RTVDMA and the Road Transport (Vehicle and Driver Management) Regulation 2005. The Road Transport (Mass, Loading and Access) Regulation 2005 continues to be in force.

The Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) alone contains 755 sections. A selection of the main features of the new legislation include:

  1. A national scheme for the registration of heavy vehicles (in NSW the local law still operates pending adoption of the national scheme for registration).
  2. Provisions dealing with vehicle operations – standards and safety.
  3. Provisions dealing with mass, dimension and loading, speeding and driver fatigue.
  4. The “Intelligent Access Program” (a program to allow heavy vehicles to have access, or improved access, to the road network in return for monitoring, by an intelligent transport system, of their compliance with stated access conditions).
  5. Accreditation (allowing operators of heavy vehicles who implement management systems that achieve the objectives of particular aspects of the HVNL to be subject to alternative requirements).
  6. Establishment of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator which can, inter alia, investigate breaches of the law and bring and conduct proceedings for offences.
  7. Enforcement, Review and Appeal provisions (including internal reviews by the regulator of reviewable decisions).

More information: National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, www.nhvr.gov.au

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