What is the HVNL?

The Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) is the law that regulates all vehicles over 4.5t GVM in  participating jurisdictions in Australia. The purpose of this law is to promote and support the safe and productive transport of goods and people by heavy vehicles.

We hear so much about Chain of Responsibility (CoR) anyone could be mistaken for thinking that CoR covered everything about heavy vehicle safety and compliance. The term CoR is used as a catch all, but it’s just one part of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL). This legislation is 676 pages long, has over 800 sections and there’s five separate Regulations as well. Although National by name, it is not actually national. Western Australia and the Northern Territory have not applied the HVNL and of the States that have, each has made some deviations. There are many issues with application and interpretation of the laws, which has prompted a full review by the National Transport Commission (NTC). It is described by the NTC as being complex and onerous for the industry to comply with and for the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator to administer, difficult to read and interpret in parts, takes a ‘one size fits all approach’ and inconsistently applied and enforced. Now for the good news – it is currently under review!

676 Pages & 5 Regulations

Currently the HVNL covers PBS vehicles, IAP, road access permits, accreditation, documentation, vehicle operations (standards and safety, mass, loading, dimension, fatigue management), enforcement, sanctions, penalties and general matters around administration of the Law. The 5 Regulations that support the Law provide more detail on:

  1. Fatigue Management
  2. Mass, Dimension Loading
  3. Registration
  4. Vehicle Standards; and
  5. General which is about Performance Based Standards (PBS) vehicles.

Chain of Responsibility in the HVNL

Chain of Responsibility (CoR) comes into the Safety Duties in Chapter 1A of the Law stating the safety of transport activities relating to a heavy vehicle being a shared responsibility of each part in the chain of responsibility for the vehicle. Parties in the chain of responsibility are listed and the factors on which the level and nature of the party’s responsibility depends.  There are 13 other chapters in the HVNL that don’t talk about chain of responsibility.

Enforcement of the HVNL

The State Road Regulators enforce the HVNL, but South Australia and Tasmania have transferred across to the NHVR as will Victoria later this year, when the VicRoads Transport Safety Services area will come under the NHVR banner. Breaches of the HVNL comprise safety and enforcement action including warnings, improvement notices, infringement notices through to charges being laid to be heard in Court. There can also be significant costs and disruption to business associated with enforcement action. When something goes wrong that attracts the attention of the Regulators (and that can be all three at once – Police, Road regulator and safety regulator, eg in Victoria that’s Vic Police, VicRoads and WorkSafe), being able to demonstrate that you understand your obligations under the Law and run a compliant operation puts you in a stronger position to avoid enforcement action. Each party in the Chain of Responsibility needs to understand their role in the chain and manage the safety risks of their transport activities as they relate to the heavy vehicle. CoR Comply has been specifically developed for transport operators to do this as quickly and easily as possible without having to spend thousand’s on complex, lengthy documentation and consulting fees. We’ve done the hard work so you don’t have to. The CoR Comply system, when properly implemented, will reduce your risk of prosecution if the regulators come knocking.

You can learn more about HVNL here