Bicycle Network has renewed calls for mandatory safety measures that protect vulnerable road users to be included as part of Australia’s Heavy Vehicle National Law.
As part of our submission to the Heavy Vehicle National Law Review through the National Transport Commission, Bicycle Network called for a national approach and established safety standard to reduce the risk that heavy vehicles pose on our roads.
With the growth of our cities and recent boom of major infrastructure projects, heavy vehicles and vulnerable road users are coming into contact and conflict more frequently with catastrophic results. About a third of cyclist fatalities since January 2019 involved either a heavy rigid truck or an articulated truck.
Currently, the purpose of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) is to ensure a safe and efficient heavy vehicle journey.
Where appropriate truck safety measures are not mandated, Bicycle Network argues that the HVNL does not meet the requirements of the National Road Safety Strategy and protect people who ride and walk.
According to the National Transport Commission’s website, the HVNL review recognizes that current heavy vehicle law is not best practice – “it's outdated, complex, long, prescriptive and does not support road safety outcomes.”
In order to make a serious impact and reduce the risk to people who ride, we must aim high. When it comes to bike riders and heavy vehicles mixing on our roads, visibility is key.
Bicycle Network’s submission to the National Transport Commission, called for five key inclusions to HVNL including:
- All heavy vehicles to be fitted with class V mirrors, and reversing/blind spot cameras, giving the driver a better view of road users around their vehicles
- All heavy vehicles to be fitted with side underrun protection to protect bike riders from being dragged under the wheels in the event of a crash
- All heavy vehicles to be fitted with audible left turn warning and reverse squawker alert systems to communicate heavy vehicle movements to all road users
- Require that state and federal government projects only employ trucking companies who comply with the above safety improvements
- Incentivise a movement towards low-cab and direct vision heavy vehicles over the next 10 years.
Bicycle Network understands that the heavy vehicle industry faces several challenges in adhering to the HGVL, and that operators face several costs and barriers in making their vehicles compliant with mandatory safety measures.
The above recommended safety improvements (excluding low cabs) can be fitted to trucks retrospectively, greatly reducing the financial burden.
It is crucial that Australia stay at the forefront of heavy vehicle safety as it has done in many other facets of road safety.
The Heavy Vehicle National Law is to ensure that heavy vehicles complete safe and efficient journeys. It’s clear that the current relationship between heavy vehicles and vulnerable road users is not being adequately addressed by the law.
Bicycle Network strongly believes that the suggestions in this submission will be a pivotal step in reducing road trauma of vulnerable road users.
The review is open from February 2019 to May 2020.