How to avoid the big ticket trucking penalties


Filtered3Stock2_cropEvery small business feels the pinch when it comes time to pay the rates, regos and insurance, so it goes without saying you’ll want to steer clear of any costly heavy vehicle penalties and infringements that could come your way.

To keep you one step ahead of any unwanted expenses, we’ve scoured the rather hefty heavy vehicle national law (HVNL) for some of the big penalties of $10,000 and over that you’ll definitely want to avoid!

Who has to pay?

The latest updates to the HVNL court imposed and infringement penalties kicked off in July 2015 and it’s meant bigger costs across the board.  These apply if you’re an operator of a heavy vehicle (over 4.5 tonnes GVM) in SA, NSW, QLD, VIC, TAS and the ACT.

There are three types of HVNL penalties:

Infringeable offences: An infringement notice gives you the option of paying the penalty or letting it go to court. Infringeable offences are usually set at about 10 per cent of the maximum court imposable penalty, so if you’re in the wrong it’s definitely in your best interest to pay up!

Court imposed penalties: If the offence is serious enough, it will have to be dealt with by the court. The HVNL sets the maximum penalty you could have to pay.

Demerit points: The HVNL has eight offences that will put demerit points on your driver’s licence.

If you’re in the NT or WA, you’ll follow a different set of rules (and penalties) but you’ll still need to be up with the latest regulations if you’re operating your heavy vehicle in different states.

Mass and Loading

Make sure you’re ticking all the boxes when it comes to loading your vehicle to its approved mass requirements. The court-imposed penalties for overloading can range from minor offences at $4,200 to $10,490 for severe offences. You’ll also cop an additional $520 for every additional 1 per cent over a 120 per cent overload. The infringement penalty is $420 for minor cases and $630 for substantial cases.

Speeding

The HVNL Chain of Responsibility laws come into play when offences to do with driver safety and speeding crop up. Basically, a driver must be able to safely carry out the required jobs within a reasonable timeframe. Schedulers, employers and contractors can be held accountable if the business practises have caused a driver to exceed speed limits – so if you’re tempted to put pressure on drivers to rush a job – don’t! You could be up for the maximum court imposed penalty of $10,490.

Fatigue-regulated heavy vehicles (vehicles with GVM of more than 12 tonnes)

Solo drivers of a fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle who work more than the legal maximum work time (or rest less than the minimum rest time), will receive up to four demerit points on their licence and an infringement of up to $630.

But you’ll face a whopping $15,750 penalty if the case goes to court, so make sure you’re 100 per cent across all of your legal requirements for work and rest times.

But don’t think you’re off the hook if you’re the employer! If a driver is convicted of an offence involved with breaking the work and rest requirement laws, then the employer, contractor, operator, scheduler, consigner for goods, loading manager, loader of goods and unloader of goods could be up for court imposed penalties ranging from $4,200 through to $15,750 in critical cases.

Emissions

We’ve all learnt from VW that transparency is definitely the best option when it comes to being upfront about your emissions. Regulators think so too – so if you’re found tampering with an emission control system you’ll face the maximum penalty of $10,490.

Goods

Make sure all the documentation for the mass, dimension or loading of any goods in your heavy vehicle are all accurate and above board.  If any false or misleading documentation is found, each consigner of the goods could face a maximum court penalty of $10,490.

NT and WA

If you’re in WA, Main Roads Western Australia oversees heavy vehicles so check out the Compliance and Enforcement page on their website.

The Northern Territory supports the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator but is yet to take up the Heavy Vehicle National Law.  Safety for drivers is covered under the Work Health & Safety (WHS) Act & Regulations, but as with WA you’ll need to be across the HVNL if you’re operating outside of the border.

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