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  • Heavy Vehicle Offences and Penalties in Tasmania

    The Heavy Vehicle National Law(Tasmania) Act 2013, and the Heavy Vehicle National (Tasmania) Regulations 2014, govern the operations of heavy vehicles in Tasmania. The Heavy Vehicle National Law (Tasmania) Act was created to provide a national policy for governing heavy vehicle use on roadways and for other purposes,

    Under this law, any vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) above 4.5 tonnes is classified as a heavy vehicle. This extends to buses and vehicles with unique purposes. This will help ensure public security, manage the effect of heavy vehicles in the surroundings and improve commerce productivity in the conveyance of goods and passengers by heavy trucks.

    Everyone under the chain of responsibility must ensure that these laws are not broken. Any person under the chain can be held liable for an offence committed under the law.

    If an individual is convicted in a Tasmanian court for a heavy vehicle offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on a criminal history check in Tasmania.

    What is the Chain of Responsibility?

    The chain of responsibility is a policy that vests obligations upon everyone under a transport assignment supply line. This means that anyone who, in any way, influences any aspect of the operations of the heavy vehicle is burdened with the responsibility to comply with the law and will be liable if a breach occurs.

    The HVNL provides for parties to the chain of responsibility for a heavy vehicle. They are;

    • An employer of the driver of a heavy vehicle.
    • A prime contractor for the driver, where the vehicle's driver is self-employed.
    • The person who operates the vehicle.
    • Any person who schedules or plans the operations of the vehicle.
    • Any person who consigns the goods to be conveyed by the heavy vehicle(consignor).
    • Any person who accepts the goods transported in a heavy vehicle(consignee).
    • Any person who arranges goods meant for transport in a heavy vehicle.
    • Any person who supervises the loading of goods in a heavy vehicle.
    • Any person who directly loads goods into a heavy vehicle.
    • Any person who directly offloads goods off a heavy vehicle.

    In one way or the other, these persons are responsible for the operations of the heavy vehicle. If they fail to carry out their primary responsibilities, they will be held accountable.

    Note that it is unlawful to drive a heavy vehicle in Tasmania without a heavy vehicle licence. You must possess a heavy vehicle licence.

    Fatigue-Regulated Heavy Vehicle Offences

    Persons who drive heavy vehicles exert extra energy while driving. Driving a heavy vehicle requires hard work and can be exhausting. For this reason, heavy vehicle drivers are prone to fatigue. Driving a heavy vehicle under fatigue is both dangerous and an offence.

    A driver owes it to himself and the other road users to be fit while driving on the road.

    Under Tasmanian law, drivers are mandated to notify the Registrar of Motor Vehicles of any lasting or long-term illness that is possible to influence their fitness to drive.

    The following are fatigue-regulated vehicles under the Tasmanian Law;

    • Vehicles with a GVM of over 12 tonnes
    • Combinations where the total GVM is above 12 tonnes
    • A vehicle or combination, including an automobile, with a GVM above 12 tonnes with a machine connected to it
    • Buses with a GVM above 4.5 tonnes and a seating capacity of more than 12 adults (the driver included).

    A driver of any of the above heavy vehicles must obey the national fatigue management law. It amounts to an offence where a driver drives a heavy vehicle while fatigued. Everyone under the chain of responsibility must take adequate steps to ensure that this offence does not happen.

    Everyone under the chain of responsibility is responsible for:

    • Avoiding driver fatigue
    • Ensuring that drivers comply with the lawful work and rest hours. This means, for example, that drivers must halt the vehicle if they feel weak or fatigued.
    • The operators and schedulers must plan when drivers should take a rest.
    • The loading directors must make efforts to ensure that queuing is managed appropriately.

    Speeding Offence

    In Tasmania, the ultimate speed limit that applies to a driver for an interval of the road to which a speed limit applies is the number of kilometres per hour stated on the limit sign. This applies to drivers who drive both light and heavy vehicles.

    Where, however, if the number on the speed limit sign is above 100 and the person is driving a bus with a GVM above 5 tonnes or another vehicle with a GVM above 12 tonnes, the maximum speed limit that will apply to the driver for the length of the road is 100km/h.

    NB. An employer of a driver who commits a speeding offence will also be held liable for the offence.

    Penalty
    • 6 demerit points and a four-month ban term for driving more than 45km/h above the stipulated speed limit.
    • 6 demerit points and a three-month ban term for driving between 38km/h and 44kn/h above the stipulated limit.

    Note that these offences may result in a demerit point suspension if you reach your demerit point limit. The suspension usually will begin after your excessive speed disqualification.

    Overloading Offences

    The National Regulation for Heavy Vehicles (Mass, Dimension, and Loading) specifies the mass and dimensions of all heavy vehicles and loads on Tasmanian roadways.

    Also, vehicle manufacturers always state each vehicle's gross mass (GVM/GCM/GTM) limits. A heavy vehicle must not be used at a mass limit that will exceed the;

    • The manufacturer's limits.
    • The manufacturer's element rating.
    • The statutory mass boundaries.

    The operator and everyone under the chain of responsibility must see that these limits are not surpassed.

    Penalty

    The penalty for overloading offences is usually evaluated on how much the load in question surpasses the allowable weight.

    Also, whether the offender is an individual or a corporation and whether it is a first time or repeat offence will be considered.

    Alcohol and Drug Offences

    Driving a heavy vehicle under the influence of drugs and alcohol is a criminal offence.

    A driver of any of the following vehicles must have zero blood alcohol concentration.

    • A heavy vehicle with a GVM above 4.5 tonnes
    • A passenger vehicle, for the public example, a bus.
    • A vehicle is transmitting a hazardous load.
    Penalty
    • Any driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs while driving faces a licence suspension of up to 12 months.
    • A first time offender will be liable to pay the sum of $1,200 or be imprisoned for up to 3 months.
    • A person caught driving with an unlawful drug such as cannabis present in the blood may be fined $1,200.
    • For second-time offenders, heavier penalties will apply.

    Will heavy vehicle offences in Tasmania show up on a police background check?

    If an individual is found guilty of a heavy vehicle offence in a Tasmanian court, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on the results of a police background check.

    Individuals can obtain a national police clearance online via the Australian National Character Check - ANCC® website.

    Sources

    Heavy Vehicle National Law (Tasmania) Act 2013 - https://www.legislation.tas.gov.au/view/html/inforce/current/act-2013-030

    Heavy Vehicle National (Tasmania) Regulations 2014 - https://www.legislation.tas.gov.au/view/whole/html/inforce/current/sr-2014-007

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