The announcement of the new Chain of Responsibility laws earlier this year sent shockwaves through the farming community.
We couldn’t believe we were being made responsible for truck drivers on top of everything else.
The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) failed to take into consideration the unique environment in which farmers operate.
In response to lobbying from the VFF and other agricultural organisations, the NHVR has delayed implementation of the laws until October 1 to give farmers more time to adjust to the new responsibilities.
NHVR has told us that under the new laws farmers will need to communicate the weight of the load and, if they are present at the time, ensure the load has been legally loaded and secured.
However, farmers will not be responsible for checking drivers’ work diaries, vehicle maintenance records, drivers’ licences, registration or insurance.
Yet ambiguity remains over who is responsible for driver fatigue, speeding and overloading.
Majority of us operate small businesses; many are sole operators. We don’t have the same capacity to handle the changes as multinational corporations.
There are no teams of lawyers or administrators advising farmers.
The UDV is calling for the NHVR to develop further resources specifically targeted to assist farmers to comply with the regulations, including safety templates.
Farmers want to do the right thing and comply with the law.
However, good regulation must provide enough guidance to enable farmers to comply, and not be so ambiguous that no one understands how to put it into practice on farm.