There has been a change in emphasis of responsibility for those working on the maintenance of truck, in terms of the Chain of Responsibility and operators could be using truck maintenance data for CoR.
One of the changes which was enacted in the Chain of Responsibility (CoR) in October last year was the inclusion of vehicle standards in the remit of the CoR legislation.
The new regulation introduces new safety duties. There is now a shared responsibility across all of the parties in the chain. Anything which a party can control or influence is now deemed to be something they are responsible for.
A trucking operator will be responsible for their maintenance, but someone else in the chain, like the consignor, will be responsible for engaging a trucking operator which maintains and runs its trucks properly. The operator and consignor share the responsibility of moving freight with a safely maintained truck.
There is a primary duty incumbent upon everyone that they must ensure the safety of the activity. There doesn’t have to be a safety breach for someone to get into trouble. The onus is on parties in the chain to demonstrate that they have actively sought safety in the trucking operation.
The onus on anyone involved is that in their actions they do what is a reasonable thing to do. What was the likelihood of something untoward happening and what was the consequence of it happening?
“One of the regular questions we have received, since we went live with the CoR is around vehicle technology,” says Peter Austin, Vehicle Safety and Performance Manager at the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator. “There are a lot of trucks rolling out into the industry with comprehensive safety packages, but how does CoR and safety technology interact.
“The long and short of it is nothing special. The technology is just another risk mitigation or risk elimination technology that you can incorporate into the CoR. The Chain of Responsibility does not make this kind of safety technology mandatory.
“As you examine your transport activities and you identify a risk that a safety technology can help you mitigate, you need to consider it. If you are buying a new vehicle and a safety system is offered as standard, you cannot option that off. Because then it is not reasonably practical. You have access to that technology and you didn’t use it.”
The fact of the matter is a lot of these safety systems are now starting to be offered as standard on many new trucks. The new technology will be flowing into the national fleet naturally.
“One thing to note is that a lot of these safety systems come with a lot of data about the vehicle,” says Peter. “One of the most obvious is Trailer Electronic Braking Systems (TEBS). The data you can get about the state of the braking system and the way the driver is driving the vehicle is invaluable.
“At the end of the day, if you have a driver who is pushing all of the limits of the vehicle, it is going to be costing a lot in brakes and tyres. Not to mention the fact you are likely to end up with the vehicle in a ditch somewhere.
“It’s not about big brother watching drivers, it’s about how you make sure you have a policy about drivers driving at certain appropriate speeds. The TEBS data can tell you whether or not this policy is being followed and whether you need to do some follow up education and training .”
Not only can this data be a way of seeing whether drivers are acting responsibly, it can also tell an operator when policies and procedures may need updating.