By on July 3, 2003

On the 1st July new inspection and search powers came into effect under the Road Safety (Heavy Vehicle Safety) Act 2003.  The key aspect of the new legislation is the concept of “Chain of Responsibility.”  This means that all parties in the transport chain are responsible for breaches of road safety in the transport industry.

Legal accountability under the new law can occur if by your actions, inactions or demands, you cause or contribute to breaches of road transport law.  Due care is required from all links in the chain. Person’s liable for breaches include:

Consigners: Commissioning the carriage of a load by road

Packing: placing goods in packages, containers or pallets to be transported by road

LoadingPlacing and restraining loads on the vehicle

Driving: The act of driving the vehicle

Operating: If you operate a business that controls the use of a vehicle

ReceivingPayment for goods and taking possession of the load i.e. the customer.

Employers and managers may also be held personally accountable for breaches relating to any of the above activities.

Designed to protect truck drivers, the road transport industry and the wider community the new laws allow heavy vehicles and their associated premises to be inspected and searched to ensure that employers and employees in the road transport chain of responsibility are meeting their obligations under road transport laws.

Inspectors and police officers now have increased powers to search heavy vehicles and premises associated with road transport.

The new laws also include safeguards to provide protections against unfair penalties.  If for example, you did not know or could not be reasonably expected to know of a breach and you took all reasonable steps to prevent the breach or there was nothing that you could reasonably have been expected to do to prevent the breach your liability may be wavered.  One method for proving that you have taken “reasonable steps” is to comply with an approved industry Code of Practice which are now being developed.

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