The primary purpose of the HVNL is to ensure a safe and efficient heavy vehicle journey. This is made of a safe driver, a safe vehicle and a suitable route.

This topic and issues paper covers the driver and the practices of other people that influence the driver's safety. It's about keeping the driver safe and making sure the driver is operating safely so all road users are safe. It covers many behaviours and includes things that, through no direct fault of the driver, can impact safe driving.

This paper does not deal with safe vehicles, accreditation, or compliance. These will be dealt with in future issues papers.

Safe people and practices

A safe driver is a driver who is competent, fit for duty, authorised, alert and operating safely.

Safe driver
  • A competent driver has the knowledge and skill to perform the heavy vehicle driving task, and particularly safety-sensitive aspects of the task. Competency develops with behind-the-wheel experience.
  • A driver who is fit for duty is fit to drive at the start of the heavy vehicle journey and for the duration of the journey. This covers underlying health and medical fitness, and readiness for work. A driver is ready for work if he or she is well rested, focused on the task and not affected by drugs or alcohol.
  • An authorised driver holds the relevant class of licence. He or she has been assessed and authorised for competence and underlying medical fitness in their relevant state or territory. An authorised driver is also ready for work before he or she starts a shift.
  • An alert driver is not unacceptably fatigued and not distracted from the task of driving.
  • A driver operating safely drives to the conditions, including maintaining a safe speed. He or she drives smoothly, predictably and attentively.

The HVNL does not regulate all elements of the safe driver. It works together with:

  • state and territory laws, such as licensing and work health and safety
  • road rules
  • accreditation schemes
  • industry codes
  • safety management systems.

Each party in the chain of responsibility (COR) shares responsibility for the safety of transport activities relating to a vehicle. They must all do what they can to make sure the driver is safe and that the driver does not endanger road safety.

Parties in the road transport chain of responsibility

Parties in the road transport chain of responsibility

Problems with safe people and practices

Some key issues for safe people and practices under the HVNL include:

  • The HVNL doesn’t mention driver competency
  • There is no national approach to heavy vehicle driver licensing
  • There are no heavy vehicle driver fitness for duty standards
  • There are no offences for drink or drug driving
  • There are limited provisions to manage driver speed
  • Safety management systems, accreditation schemes and industry codes could play a greater role

What we heard

Government, regulators, drivers, operators, industry bodies, and members of the public have provided detailed and constructive submissions. Read what we heard on safe people and practices.