About Me

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John Duffy is a free-lance, commentary coach captain based on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, who offers a range of services to the coach and bus industry. He trains and assesses drivers and bus companies [including tourism], and provides transport consultancy services. He authored the "Australian Bus and Coach Drivers Guide" as a training resource. He is the first ever Certified Passenger Professional, CILTA Professional of the Year and TLISC Road Transport Trainee of the Year.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Driving Controlled Access Buses under the HVNL


Driving Controlled Access Buses under the HVNL

All rigid coaches over 12.5m (up to 14.5m) are Controlled Access Buses, or as we call them in the industry, "stretches".  As such, they need permits under the HVNL as Operating under vehicle standards exemption.


Section 81 Contravening condition of vehicle standards exemption emphasises:
  • A person must not contravene a condition of a vehicle standards exemption.
  • A person must not use a heavy vehicle, or permit a heavy vehicle to be used, on a road in a way that contravenes a condition of a vehicle standards exemption applying to the vehicle
The maximum penalty for this offence is $4000, but the infringeable offence (ie. "ticket") is $426 (HVNL, 2016).


Section 82 Keeping relevant document while driving under vehicle standards exemption (notice) explains:

  • The driver must keep a relevant document in the driver’s possession. 
  • A driver must comply with the condition. 
  • If the driver does NOT comply with the conditions, each relevant party for the driver is taken to have committed an offence
  • Any CoR party charged with this offence does NOT have the benefit of the mistake of fact defence
  • The CoR party charged has the benefit of the reasonable steps defence, if it can be proven the CoR did everything reasonable to stop it.
Each offence will present an infringement penalty of $320, with a court imposed maximum of $3000.


Who is a Relevant Party?

A relevant party, for the driver of a controlled access bus, means:

  • an employer of the driver
  • a prime contractor of the driver, if the driver is a sub-contractor/freelancer
  • an operator of the bus


So what is the Relevant Document?

According to the HVNL, a relevant document is either a Commonwealth Gazette notice for the exemption (based on the vehicle standard), or an information sheet about the exemption published by the Regulator on the Regulator’s website.

These permits (authorisations to drive a "stretch") are available on the HVNR website as:

National class 2 heavy vehicle controlled access bus authorisation (notice) 
and 

National class 3 heavy vehicle controlled access bus rear overhang dimension exemption (notice)

These are a single document located at:
<https://www.nhvr.gov.au/files/c2014g00240-national-class-2-class-3-controlled-access-bus.pdf>


Please note: You must be using the current Schedules 2, 3,and 6.

These are available at: 

This document provides access to the individual state and territory Transport Department links of maps and zones you can and can not drive a "stretch".  These state documents need to be carried  for every state and territory they will be travelling in.





There is also an accompanying Information Notice that needs to be carried.  







If you want to drive a controlled access bus on a unapproved route, the operator needs to apply for a controlled access bus permit from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator portalhttps://www.service.nhvr.gov.au/

If you want to drive a "stretch" on an unapproved route in WA or NT, you will need to apply directly to the respective Transport Departments.


Summary

A driver may carry these in electronic format, so long as if questioned by an authorised officer (Transport, Police or NHVR) they can produce it.  This means they may be readable (carried) on a smartphone or tablet.  This can save a massive amount of paper being carried around the countryside.

It is also requires the driver to carry these documents PLUS the documents for every state and territory they will be travelling.

It is essential operators train all staff (drivers, route planners and managers) in the Chain of Responsibility obligations of this aspect of the HVNL.  The training and it's refreshing needs to be documented (with the signatures of the trainees) regularly (eg. annually).  This contributes to the "reasonable steps" defence protecting the CoR parties.



References

Heavy Vehicle National Law (Queensland) 







Friday, 5 May 2017

The Cost of HVNL Penalties



The enforcement of heavy vehicle road rules in Australia has always seemed burdensome to drivers and, to a lesser extent, operators.  We have seen the advent of increased safety regulation, particularly since the 1990s (in the aftermath of the Grafton and Kempsey coach incidents).  

In more recent decades, we have seen another substantial increase (or supposedly a national "simplification") with the delayed introduction of the Heavy Vehicle National Law [HVNL].  Of course, there remains differences between the states in regards to parts of the HVNL, and Western Australia and Northern Territory still refuse to ratify it.  

Irrespective of the efficacy or success of the HVNL and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator [NHVR], the laws are here to stay in one form or another.  More importantly, there are changes to the Chain of Responsibility [CoR] laws in mid 2018. "These changes align CoR laws more closely with workplace health and safety laws." (NHVR, 2017).

Now, more than ever, the increasing legal and safety demands on bus drivers (in regards to fatigue, mass, dimension, loading, and vehicle standards) are to be shared implicitly with parties in the CoR, namely:

  • owners 
  • managers and supervisors
  • schedulers
  • loaders/unloaders (if freight or luggage is involved)
  • consignors/consignees (if freight is involved)
  • mechanics
There are also parties not normally considered in general road transport as CoR, that is exclusive to the bus and coach sector.  These other parties include entities that: 
  • book (or contract) charter services (eg. schools, sporting teams) 
  • lead groups (eg. tour guides, teachers on excursions)


With all the features to the current HVNL (and further introductions in 2018), coupled with the very expensive penalties for breaches, there is a noticeable demand for disseminating the practical implications of the law.  This includes comprehensive training and auditing of ALL parties in CoR.  


The Penalty Types of HVNL Breaches


There are currently 330 offences that can be breached under the HVNL.

There are three (3) types of penalties used by the NHVR, being:
  • infringeable offences (for 144 offences)
  • court imposed penalties 
  • demerit points (for 8 offences)

Infringeable Notices

An infringeable notice is the same concept as a traffic ticket.

The alleged offender has a the option to either pay the notice or take the matter to court.

These are for minor infractions of the HVNL.

Court Imposed Penalties

More serious or multiple repeated offences are considered serious and can only be dealt by a court.

The HVNL sets out the maximum penalty level that the court may apply.  (These are summarised in 2016/17 Court Imposed and Infringement Penalties document, which is linked in the References below).

Demerit Points

The final penalty option (which can be issued along with infringeable notices) is to record demerit points against a driver's licence.  

How Do I Find Out the Penalty Cost for an Offence?


When costing Fatigue Management and CoR Management Policy, you should also assess the cost of a breach (or potential breach) - this is where an external auditor can save your company thousands!   

ADVERT: John Duffy ~ Tour Coach Services  < johnduffy.net.au > 😉

Let's take a simple example that has driven the industry mad on social media:  Using the wrong Driver Base.

The HVNL refers to this under S303 Time zone of driver’s base must be used. 

Accessing the Schedule of HVNL Penalties, Infringement Penalties and Demerit Points FY 2016-2017 online document, we search <Ctrl-F> for "303" or "base".

This gives us the following answer:

The first column outlines where the legislation is located:



Chapter 6 - Vehicle Operations - driver fatigue

The second column presents the actual section and explanatory note about the breach:



303 Time zone of driver’s base must be used – The driver must record 
time in the driver’s work diary according to the time zone in the place 
where the driver’s base is, rather than the time zone in the place where 
the driver is

The third column lists the penalty for increasing severity of certain breaches (as minor, substantial, severe, or critical).  


EXERCISE:  Compare a common breach I encounter doing audits
250 (1) Operating under standard hours—solo drivers


The fourth column outlines the maximum penalty that can be imposed (by a court) for breaching the particular offence:  $1500

The fifth column only pertains to over loading a vehicle.  You can check out the severe breach of S96 (1) Compliance with Mass Requirements.

The sixth column (entitled 2016/17 FY Indexed Penalty) list the maximum penalty value in line with CPI.  This value represents the penalty as at the 1 July (in this case 2017): $1600

The infringeable penalty is presented in column six: $160

The final column lists the demerit points attained for committing particular offences.

EXERCISE:  Check out the demerit points for the following
228 Duty of driver to avoid driving while fatigued


Just How Serious is it for Employers?


The biggest concern I have with the bus industry, is that all parties in the CoR do not know how close they are to massive breaches.

SCENARIO 1

A bus driver is captured by a speed camera doing 97km/h in a 90km/h zone

Not only is the driver committing an offence (under state or territory transport laws), but if not legally covered, the owner can be prosecuted from between $320 to $3000. [Refer to 219(1) Liability of employer etc for speeding offence].

SCENARIO 2

An experienced Tour Manager inadvertently makes a mistake (forgetting about the start of Day Light Savings during a tour).  This causes the driver to drive fatigued.  The manager/business may be prosecuted to a maximum of $10000 (plus legal expenses).
 [According to 233 (1) Duty to ensure driver’s schedule will not cause driver to drive while fatigued etc]

SCENARIO 3

The driver of a "stretch" doesn't have the permits to drive a Controlled Access Bus in NSW when he is parked in Newcastle during a "Transport Blitz".  He could be potentially fined $360 to $3000 [under S83(1) Keeping copy of permit while driving under vehicle standards exemption (permit)].

Even if you can successfully defend your case in court, remember the cost of time (eg. building the case, discussing with lawyers/consultants, away from work), legal costs (eg. legal representation or consultants) and corporate reputation (eg. media misrepresent facts) can have a negative impact on your operations.

Summary


The HVNL is extremely complex, and complements state and territory traffic and passenger transport legislation.  It doesn't need to be feared, but it is essential that all drivers and bus companies have a means of managing and auditing management systems to prevent breaches and potential breaches.

I don't want to seem scare-mongering, but I do want to make the point, to all bus and coach drivers and businesses ...

You must not be complacent with the HVNL !




References

Duffy (2013) Australian  Bus and Coach Drivers' Guide

NHVR (2017) About the Chain of Responsibility. last accessed 05-05-2017
<https://www.nhvr.gov.au/safety-accreditation-compliance/chain-of-responsibility/about-the-chain-of-responsibility>


NHVR (2016) Schedule of HVNL Penalties, Infringement Penalties and Demerit Points FY 2016-2017. last accessed 05-05-2017 <https://www.nhvr.gov.au/files/201606-0369-hvnl-penalties-and-infringements-july2016.pdf>



Wednesday, 3 May 2017

My Favourite Books to Loan

A good friend asked me what books to loan to friends, for spiritual help.

Reflecting on this question, I realised I recommend different books for different needs (and the list has changed over my years walking with the Lord).


This blog will list the main five I personally prefer currently, and where you can purchase them economically or free PDF (if available).


1.  Westminster Confession of Faith (the Westminster Divines)

The WCF (or if you want its full title, the Westminster Confession of Faith, Larger & Shorter Catechisms, Sum of Saving Knowledge and Directory for the Public Worship of God) was compiled by a large group of theologians over several years in the mid-1600s.

It provides a systematic theology reference with comprehensive scripture references, answering all the questions everyone asks about the Christian (reformed) faith in detail.  For people committed to Christ, or those seeking more information before committing.


BOOK               PDF


2.  The Book That Made Your World (by Vishal Mangalwadi)



This book presents how the Bible became the West's source of human rights, justice, heroism, optimism, compassion, capitalism, family, and morality.


In the 1960s many from the West went to the East in search of spiritual wisdom. The Book That Made Your World reverses the journey. Vishal Mangalwadi, an Indian philosopher, takes readers on a historical journey through the last millennium, exploring why and how the Bible reformed Europe and made the West a uniquely thinking civilization: technical and tolerant, scientific and free, just and prosperous.

Readers will find out:
  • Why an American president puts his hand on the Bible to take the oath of a secular office
  • What forced British monarchs from Henry VIII to James I to submit to the Bible's authority
  • Why Bible translators Wycliffe, Luther, and Tyndale became history's greatest revolutionaries
  • How the Bible globalized western education
A great book for mature Christians and also philosophical non-believers (who have an intellectual curiosity).


BOOK               


3.  Christianity for Skeptics (by Drs Steve Kumar and Jonathan D Sarfati)



A book defending Christianity in general that answers attacks from many directions.  This updated classic answers key questions like:

  • Does God exist?
  • If there is a God, why is there evil?
  • Is atheism rational?
  • Is the Bible the word of God?
  • What about other religions, including Islam and the New Age?

Christianity for Skeptics contains cutting edge material on design in nature and the Christian roots of science.  With its modern, catchy full color cartoon-style illustrations it is a real ‘pick me up and read me’ type book, ideal to place in the hands of a skeptical friend, family member, or co-worker.

A lot of advanced philosophical examinations explained simply and interestingly!

BOOK


4. The Practice of God's Presence (by Rev Andrew Murray)


South African pastor and author Andrew Murray, (1828-1917), after his formal education in Scotland and three years of theological study, in Holland, that Andrew Murray returned as a missionary and minister. Murray's first appointment was to a remote and unattractive territory of nearly 50,000 square miles and 12,000 people.  

Not only was Andrew Murray the author of over 240 books, he was also a man of great prayer.

This magnificent work is a collection of seven of his best books:

  • The Power Of The Blood Of Jesus                                      
  • Humility - my absolute favourite of all Murray's books ~ JD  
  • Absolute Surrender                                                              
  • The Secret Of Spiritual Strength                                              
  • Experiencing The Holy Spirit
  • Daily Experience With God
  • The Blessings Of Obedience

BOOK               PDF


5.  A [Exciting] New Life (by Rev Andrew Murray)


This book is your guide to the basics of being God's child. Andrew Murray was concerned about the growth of new believers; that is why he wrote these 52 simple Bible studies (... one for each week?). Even those who have known Christ for years will benefit from these precious reminders of God's truths.

Answers many questions about maturing in Christ, such as:
  • What should I do when I sin?
  • How can I be led by the Holy Spirit? 
  • Can I make myself love someone for whom I feel no love? 
  • What is my part in missionary work? 
  • How much power does Satan have against me? 
  • Why do Christians go through trials? 
  • What if I have no desire to pray and read the Bible? 

BOOK               PDF



There are many more books I loan out, but these are the main ones I use to encourage the saints and build up their faith.


I pray that the Lord God can use this to His glory, in Jesus' name. Amen.

Estimating Bus Loading Weights


I have been asked by a Fleet Manager to remind their drivers how to work out the weight loadings for a bus.

Here's an outline of the terms used, the way to estimate load weights, and ensure your bus or coach can handle them.


Work Out Your Bus Specifications:

You need to know your various definitions for vehicle weights:

Tare Mass or Weight

This is the weight of an empty standard vehicle with all of its fluids (oils, coolants) but with only 10 litres of fuel in the tank.   There are no passengers, luggage or freight.


Kerb Mass or Weight

This is the same as Tare Mass, but with a full tank of fuel and without any accessories fitted (bull bars, tow bars, etc)


Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) or Weight (GVW)

This is the maximum your bus or coach can weigh when fully loaded as specified by the manufacturer. You will usually find this GVM figure on the vehicle's weight placard (generally found in the driver's door opening) or in the owner's manual. So GVM is the Kerb Mass plus driver, passengers, luggage, freight, tools and whatever else you're taking with you.
And if you're towing a trailer, GVM also includes the Tow Ball Download.



Gross Vehicle Axle Mass or Weight


This is the maximum load that your vehicle's front and rear axles can carry as specified by the manufacturer.  The combined gross axle weights usually exceed the GVM, to provide a safety margin. Even so, it's important to know that your vehicle's GVM has been distributed evenly for safe and efficient operation.


If you are towing a trailer:


Tow Bar Download (TBD)


A tow bar will have a placard or similar showing the maximum tow bar capacity and maximum tow bar download (maximum amount of trailer weight that can push down on the tow bar). 


Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM) or Weight (ATW)


This is the Gross Trailer Mass (GTM) plus the Tow Bar Download. In other words, the ATM is the maximum towing weight of the trailer as specified by the manufacturer.


Gross Combination Mass (GCM) or Weight (GCW)

This is the maximum weight allowed for your vehicle and trailer combined, as specified by the tow vehicle's manufacturer. This is where you have to pay close attention to your vehicle's GVM and your trailer's ATM, because those two figures determine the GCM and one directly affects the other.

These are all summarised in the following diagram:





Where Do I Find These Values for My Bus?

The best places to find out the specifications for your vehicle is:

  • Registration Certificates or Labels
  • Insurance Certificates
  • Vehicle Placards and Modification Plates
  • Vehicle Instruction Manual
  • Dealers Technical Specification data


If you are really keen, you can go to a public weighbridge with the bus or coach, and get the unladen weight with all your standard equipment (that you normally carry).  This can provide you with a base weight to work from.


How Do I Workout if I am Loaded Correctly?

The first step is calculate your load, remembering to include:

  • driver and passenger weights
  • luggage
  • freight

Driver / Passenger Weights

I recommend working on the aviation industry specifications (see CASA link in references).

They estimate passenger weights based on age and gender as follows:

You should note, this data is nearly 30 years old, 
so I would recommend adding 10kg to these figures!


So the passenger weights would be a multiple of the number of each type of passenger by the average weight (from the table).

eg. You will be carrying 20 adults (including yourself), 6 teenagers and 10 children.

20 adults x [assume males to be safe] 96kg = 1920kg


6 teenagers x [assume males to be safe] 75kg = 450kg

10 children x 44kg = 440kg

TOTAL = 2810kg


Luggage

It is impractical to measure luggage weights, under most situations, but you can estimate:
School bags (primary) = 5kg



School bags (secondary) = 8kg

Overnight bags = 10kg

Extended luggage = 20+kg


Eg.  In the above example, the adults carry overnight bags, the children and teenagers carry school bags.

20 adults x  10kg = 200kg


6 teenagers x 8kg = 48kg

10 children x 5kg = 50kg

TOTAL = 298kg


Freight

Freight is usually labelled with mass and dimension data.  Otherwise, you can estimate by pushing against heavy items to estimate their weight.

How do I Calculate All This Weight?

Firstly, work out what your maximum payload (passengers, luggage and freight):


Payload (max) = GVM - Kerb*



eg. if GVM = 10t and Kerb* = 6.45t then Payload = 3.55t max.

* Kerb is here used to mean empty but with your equipment loaded.



Next, estimate the payload weight:


Payload (est) = passenger wt + luggage wt + freight wt


eg. for the above example, with no freight:

Payload (est) = 2810kg + 298kg = 3108kg


Compare the Payload (max) with the Payload (est):


eg.  P[max] = 3.55t and P[est] = 3.11t therefore LEGAL.

Finally, consider the configuration of your bus or coach (ie. number of axles, positions of axles and individual axle loadings) to ensure the weight (ie. passengers, luggage and freight) is evenly distributed to maintain LEGAL and SAFE loading.



More information on this can be found in the Australian Bus and Coach Drivers' Guide.


References

CIVIL AVIATION SAFETY AUTHORITY (1990) STANDARD PASSENGER AND BAGGAGE WEIGHTS

Duffy, J (2013) Australian Bus and Coach Drivers' Guide

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Making Sense of the HVNL ~ What is a driver BASE?


DISCLAIMER: This article does not constitute legal advice, and 
the author is not accountable for any breach or potential breach 
of the Heavy Vehicle National Law by any party referring to this article.

Recently, drivers on social media have expressed a serious diversity of understanding in
regards to the definition of a driver's base pertaining to the Heavy Vehicle National Law [HVNL].

I hope I can simplify the important issues and help remove some of the confusion for our drivers.  I will address what the HVNL defines as the Driver Base, what it isn't, and summarise the practical aspects for Drivers.

I will actually provide copies of the specific current legislation, and there are links for you to further research in the references at the bottom.


What is a Driver Base?

According to the National Driver Work Diary, a base is summarised as follows:


National Driver Work Diary, Glossary (p.5)

It is more accurately defined in the HVNL as:

Heavy Vehicle National Law (Queensland), Chapter 1 Preliminary, Part 1.2 Interpretation, 5 Definitions

So, you can read according to the Base definition, clause 1 (b) [which relates to Part 6.4 Requirements about record keeping, ie. the requirements of the National Work Diary], the base is described as the "garage address".

Now, the garage address is defined as:
Heavy Vehicle National Law (Queensland), Chapter 1 Preliminary, Part 1.2 Interpretation, 5 Definitions

According to the clause a for garage address, the HVNL mentions a principal depot (where the bus or coach is physically parked).  If lawyers want to be fussy, they could refer to where the vehicle is garaged according to the registration, insurance policy, or where the company's workplace policy claims is the depot of the vehicle.

Many drivers keep their company vehicles at home or at a nearby position when parked overnight.  Also, long distance operations may have a "depot" at the terminus of routes (eg. Brisbane based company with a depot at Sydney).  In these instances, it may be argued by the bus companies that these addresses may constitute the "garage address". This is covered under clause (b).

ALL these requirements are reiterated in the Heavy Vehicle (Fatigue Management) National Regulation:


Heavy Vehicle (Fatigue Management) National Regulation, Part 3 Work diary requirements,
18 Information to be recorded after change of base, record location or accreditation

This definition refers to completing the Base, record location and accreditation number section on pages 32 and 33 of your National Driver Work Diary.


The recording of your base in the Work Diary is summarised as follows:
National Driver Work Diary, Base, record location and accreditation number (p.31)
To place the bus and coach industry context on the above examples, it includes home address (if normally parked there overnight), bus depot or project parking if you are doing long term work such as mining project operations [bus in, bus out].


What is NOT a Driver Base?

A common action long distance drivers and extended tour drivers use (to "get around" the paperwork of filling logbooks away from base) is to add a base to a location where they are going to be parked for a short term.

Examples:
A coach tour from Melbourne to Sydney, where the tour is centred around a Sydney motel (passenger accommodation) for 3 days.
Interstate football team charters a bus to take them return from Brisbane to Adelaide, with transfers around Adelaide and surrounding districts over 1 week.

These instances (if audited) would not be acceptable to adding the centralised accommodation as a base to your Work Diary. 


The Practical Implications of a Driver Base

So putting these laws into practice for bus and coach drivers, I will outline a couple of common scenarios.


SCENARIO 1

A long distance Brisbane company has a depot at Sydney and a depot at Brisbane. The driver has been doing locally based charters since 2014, but in January 2017 starts intercity runs (between Brisbane and Sydney).
He hops into a Brisbane-depot coach and drives: 


  • Brisbane to Grafton [overnight rest]
  • Grafton to Port Macquarie [overnight rest]
  • Port Macquaire to Sydney [overnight rest]

He is required to ensure his Base, record location and accreditation number section is correct BEFORE he commences his journey:


And he must complete his Work Diary using the QLD time (the base of the coach), NOT NSW Daylight Saving Time [AEDT]!





On his return journey, the driver will be using a NSW registered and garaged coach.  Since this is the first time he is using another depot's vehicle, he must fill in the new base in his  Base, record location and accreditation number section BEFORE he commences his journey:



(You will note in this example, that the Head Office is the same, so the records are kept at that the Qld address).

However, because the vehicle is based at Sydney, the driver must use the NSW time (which would be AEDT) in his Work Diary:





SCENARIO 2

A coach company in Brisbane provides a fleet of coaches (and FIFO drivers) to service a remote mining project in Weipa (Far North Qld) and Arukun.

The vehicles are all registered at the Brisbane depot (for financial and insurance purposes). They are depoted permanently at Weipa, and in the interest of compliance management, the records are kept at the Weipa depot office.


The main road from Weipa to Arakun is 205km, however the direct "line of sight" between the two towns is 77km.  They do NOT travel outside this region.

Because the buses are permanently garaged at Weipa, the drivers who operate this service may claim the base as the Weipa depot, as well as the record archive:

Because the radial distance of operations is less than 100km, there is no need to record a Work Diary.



SCENARIO 3

A charter driver based in Brisbane is operating locally from a motel in Melbourne for three (3) weeks.

He wants to change his base to the motel (where his bus is parked).


This is a legal "grey" area, as the term of operation may not conventionally be considered "normally kept when not in use".  It is further complicated by the fact that 3 weeks may not be legally considered a "normal" period.

If it was to be a regular event or longer periods, an operator/supervisor (under the Chain of Responsibility definitions) may be able to provide the driver a letter legally demonstrating the circumstances.  This may legally allow the driver to add the new address as a base.

Remember, you as a driver must be able to prove the accuracy of your Work Diary information if you are audited.  It is all about protecting yourself and maintaining your compliance. 




References


Heavy Vehicle (Fatigue Management) National Regulation

Heavy Vehicle National Law (Queensland)

National Driver Work Diary