According to a law expert managers at trucking companies need to know how they may be personally exposed under the national heavy vehicle laws.
Ben Keenan of Holding Redlich also mentions the breadth of the powers that the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s officers hold.
He said that in Queensland the Act states that employers and prime contractors of heavy vehicle drivers are obliged to take “reasonable steps” to make sure that themselves or their business practices do not cause a breach of the law.
Mr Keenan said they needed to ensure that drivers were not undertaking illegal or dangerous dealings such as exceeding speed limits, driving while suffering from fatigues or not reporting that an odometer is faulty.
He said that the Act also provides that if a business causes a breach of the Act then it is considered that every executive officer of that company has also committed and offence and may be prosecuted without the company first needing to be prosecuted.
Mr Keenan said that the regulator has substantial powers that allows them to gain access to premises and vehicles, see hard copy and electronic records and seize items that are deemed evidence of a breach of the Act.
The officers of the regulator may also issue improvement notices to either individuals or businesses if they have a reasonable suspicion of a breach that means the breach must be fixed within a given period of time – generally it is 7 days from the date of the notice.
He said that other powers that the officers of the regulator have include:
- Issuing defect notices for heavy vehicles that mean the vehicle cannot be used till the defect is fixed
- Directing drivers to stop work and rest if a breach of maximum work requirements is suspected
- Asking for licences and documents that drivers are required to keep under the Act