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Comparing heavy vehicle safety management in Australia and the United States
Heavy vehicle transport safety regulation has been evolving to align with a “duty of care” legislative framework. Conventional transport regulation enforcement (of driver compliance with road rules and vehicle compliance with standards) is still necessarily in place, but “rules compliance” regulators and the transport industry alike are grappling with the need to monitor whether transport operators are meeting their duty of care by putting in place effective safety management practices and systems.
Recently Trucksafe, the Australian Trucking Association’s (ATA) alternative compliance scheme and the Australian Logistics Council’s (ALC) National Logistics Safety Code, were recognised as codes of practice that could be used in a “reasonable steps” defence under the Victorian Road Act. But as Hopkins  points out, it is relatively easy to determine after an incident whether a “reasonable” effort was made to manage safety. The challenge is to measure the sufficiency of safety management practices when crashes have not occurred and to codify the evidence of this in a way that enables consistent enforcement practices, the latter being particularly more difficult.
This paper aims to identify the ways that transport safety regulation is evolving and compares the approaches in transport safety monitoring and measurement in Australia and the United States of America. The differences in these approaches and the evidence of the effectiveness and challenges in each approach may be instructive for policy makers considering reviewing and changing regulatory frameworks.