Heavy Commercial Transport Fleet

Coverage for medium to large fleets over a wide range of transport industries including general and refrigerated produce, livestock, car and container carriers, tow operators, concrete, garbage/waste and more.

There is no doubt that heavy commercial transport helps keep the Australian economy running smoothly, but there’s a lot that can go wrong if you’re running a transportation business.

For example, the transport, postal and warehousing sector accounts for the highest number of worker fatalities during 2014-2018, according to Safe Work Australia. Under workplace health and safety laws, individuals or companies in this sector must eliminate or minimise road traffic safety risks whether you own or lease the vehicle. Also, since October 2018, the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) and Chain of Responsibility Law (CoR) has been in force in NSW, ACT, SA, TAS and VIC. It ensures all parties in the heavy transport supply chain share responsibility to prevent breaches relating to mass, load restraint, dimension, fatigue and speed offences. The logistics trade organisation, Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA) has useful CoR information & training, see here and here.

As of January 2021, the HVNL & CoR have not yet commenced in WA or NT, although HVNL applies equally to vehicles from those jurisdictions when they cross into one of the states or territories where the HVNL applies.

Heavy vehicles weighing 4.5 tonnes fully loaded, either by gross vehicle mass or ATM aggregate trailer mass are caught by HVNL.

Risks for drivers of such vehicles include time pressures, shift work that’s sedentary, fatigue, poor vehicle design, manual handling, working at height, as well as exposure to gas and other fumes are included.

Knowing who’s at the wheel

When a heavy vehicle transport operator hires drivers, driving history record checks will need to be made, including speeding, accident history, drink-driving and other issues. It is important to advise insurers of these aspects as they will take these into account when pricing (&/or accepting) the risks.

Insurers will also consider driver selection & training processes which, if implemented effectively, can lead to favourable premium outcomes.

Inadequate journey planning

Once drivers are at the wheel, they need to be aware of, and not tamper with, the 100km/h speed limiters on certain heavy vehicles. There is also a need to factor in the required speed when considering journey planning. According to the Vehicles as a Workplace National Guide, journey plans would also include:

  • Scheduling rest stops and overnight stays to avoid driver fatigue;
  • Avoiding travelling in bad weather, ‘roo hour’, or when the driver’s likely to be sleepy;
  • Giving ample time, so the driver isn’t tempted to speed;
  • Mapping a route to avoid particular roads, intersections or turning movements and go for safer, higher quality roads instead;
  • Minimising driver distractions when navigating;
  • Making sure the load is stored or restrained, so it’s not hazardous for the vehicle occupants or other road users.

To assist understanding of where road freight movements happen in Australia, review the very helpful CSIRO tool, the Transport Network Strategic Investment Tool (TraNSIT). Although it has been designed for the agricultural sector it contains some very helpful information and insights. TraNSIT helps governments and industries reduce their risks of delays and inefficiencies, saving them 70% in costs, according to the CSIRO.

Post-crash responses

Each heavy commercial vehicle needs a first aid kit and emergency management plan. This will greatly assist getting emergency services to the site fast – that’s a factor in reducing fatality risks. A safety system within the vehicle could automatically trigger an alert, but this may not work when it’s out of mobile phone range. Drivers are at the front line, so why not them for ideas to improve safety systems. Ensure the business records and analyses near misses, incidents and accidents to support continuous refinement of safety response systems.

Our Role

We assist and advise heavy transport operators on how to reduce their overall risk profile and boost protection with recommended insurance coverage. Issues to consider include:

  • Having the right cover if the business expands and adds trucks and drivers in a short period;
  • Having the right level of cover – Comprehensive, Legal Liability, Third Party, Fire & Theft or Own Damage;
  • Insuring trucks in business names rather than personal names so personal assets aren’t vulnerable if sued;
  • Having cover for damage to a trailer the business uses but doesn’t own;
  • The security of vehicles when garaged (this can affect policy excesses);
  • Meeting the requirements of some customers to have certain insurance cover when transporting for them;
  • Having the right insurance for cargo (where applicable).

Useful links:

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