HUNDREDS of truck drivers run the risk of purchasing and driving vehicles with major defects, according to Australian Heavy Vehicle Repairs Association Chairman Richard Nathan.
For over seven years Richard, along with a number of other industry groups, have lead the charge for a Written Off Vehicle Register (WOVR) for Heavy Vehicles to protect drivers from unknowingly operating vehicles with hidden and possibly deadly problems.
Unlike passenger vehicles, heavy vehicle owners, in a majority of states, have no way of tracing the history of their vehicle or past damage.
"We have people repairing of heavy vehicles and putting them back on our roads with no record of them ever having been in an accident, what has been damaged or if the critical components have been checked," Mr Nathan said.
The AHVRA argues while safety is the major issue, it is also about the driver's right to know the history of the vehicle they are purchasing.
"When a truck has been in a major incident it needs to be crack tested to find fractures in metal and vital components, the problem is there are hundreds if not thousands of these vehicles never ever being checked," he said.
"Inspectors can pull up a heavy vehicle on the road side but have no ability to see or check can a visual inspection check the vehicles true state or history."
In 2010, the WOVR was established after presentations were made to the government highlighting the rebirthing, stolen vehicles, parts and the shocking repairs released to the public Mr Nathan explains.
"We came across some instances of glued chassis, airbags stuffed with plastic bags, some family cars literally just exploded when they were tested in the crash labs," he said.
As a result the resister was established in every state, however heavy vehicles were not covered by plan.
"Heavy vehicles were not included much to our dismay," Mr Nathan said.
"You can see the history of the Toyota Corolla but not of a couple of Tonne combination.
"You see some of the examples that we have seen in our workshops, it makes you feel sick to think to make driving down the road and which ones have a fault in them that the driver isn't aware of."
Instead the powers-that-be at the time opted to develop a national approach which has still not been put in place.
Fortunately the gears have again begun turning and a all may be about to change, in New South Wales at least.
After seven years, on May 7, the Transport and Infrastructure Council agreed that jurisdictions, industry stakeholders and the NHVR establish a heavy vehicle Written Off Vehicle Register (WOVR) as a priority and that New South Wales will lead the working group to progress this
Mr Nathan remains cautious, particularly given the years of delays.
"It is great to see that finally someone has taken this responsibility seriously, a great thanks to Minister Pavey," he said.
"There is a light at the end of the tunnel," he said.
Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said the Australian Government supports the implementation of a Written Off Vehicle Register.
The implementation of a WOVR is a complex issue, with a number of details including Compulsory Third Party Insurance matters to be worked through.
However, the WOVR is being progressed as a priority in an effort to address the problems of heavy vehicle re-birthing and theft.
NSW Minister for Roads Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey is the individual tasked with the initial development of the program.
The Minister who saw the outcome of the TIC meeting as "extremely positive" said a scheme will only be successful if the committed to national approach is adopted soon after.
"Without a similar approach to how we classify vehicles, many of the benefits of a register will be significantly reduced," Minister Pavey said.
"In addition, if NSW were to act unilaterally to tighten requirements we run the risk of forcing potentially unsafe vehicles interstate for registration, only to find them back on NSW roads.
"This would be a worst-case scenario for NSW from both an industry and government perspective.
"Consultation between the states, the NHVR and Industry has already commenced to ensure a consistent regulatory approach and develop the appropriate criteria for assessing written off vehicles.
"This is including considerations to the process for repair and circumstances under which a written off vehicle can be re-registered."
The NHVR has also confirmed they will be supporting the move with NSW Roads and Maritime Services taking the lead.
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