NTC on the future of heavy vehicle regulation

The road transport and logistics sectors will face significant change over the next decade, and these changes are going to affect both the heavy vehicle industry and the way the government regulates it, according to National Transport Commission (NTC) Chief Executive and Commissioner, Paul Retter.

Retter presented at the Australian Road Transport Suppliers Association (ARTSA) 2018 Global Heavy Vehicle Leaders Summit in Melbourne on 8 May, discussing ‘drivers of change’, referring to the commercial road transport industry, shared mobility and new approaches to moving freight and people.

“Transport and logistics sectors are complex and constantly evolving,” said Retter. “The impact of new technologies underpinned by better access to data, and near-real-time analytics, is acting as a catalyst for change across the globe – affecting today’s market structures, and the demand for products and services across the transport and logistics sectors.”

Retter explained that more automated systems, increases in on-demand and shared mobility solutions as well as the consumers’ desires for greater convenience are all factors that are likely to affect the provision of transport services across the globe, particularly in larger cities and urban areas.

While the industry is moving toward safer, more sustainable systems, Retter mentioned some overseas examples: “the establishment of congestion zones, low to ultra-low emission zones in London, Scandinavian countries encouraging the uptake of hybrid and electric vehicles,” he said – adding that Japan has regulation arrangements in place to restrict the registration of vehicles when they reach a certain age. “There are ongoing efforts across the globe to reform the way we pay for access on the public road network.”

In Australia, safety and productivity are acting as powerful drivers for government action, according to Retter. With the Australian domestic freight task estimated to increase by 27 per cent in the next decade, Retter said that the pressure is on governments to facilitate and better manage freight movements.

“There are a range of initiatives as part of the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy currently under development and being led by the Federal Department of Infrastructure.

“In times of rapid technology changes, additional challenges for governments is to ensure that transport products are safe, and their operational deployment is in the community’s best interest, while at the same time ensuring that the current laws do not act as barriers to innovation,” he said.

Retter also commented on the state of ‘last mile’ deliveries, with trials of aerial drones, land-based robots and vehicles that can operate across multiple environments. “The future of heavy vehicle technology, the demand for safer, more productive and environmentally-friendly vehicles will continue to drive heavy vehicle regulation in Australia.

The NTC is an inter-governmental agency charted with improving productivity, safety and environmental performance of Australia’s road, rail and intermodal transport systems.