Chain of responsibility legislation – what has changed?

The traditional approach in road transport law in Australia has been to apply legal liability for not operating safely on drivers only, or in some cases owners or operators. Where other parties could be held accountable, this was generally through legally cumbersome ‘cause or permit’ or ‘aid and abet’ laws.

Prosecution of other parties in the transport chain was rare, and tended to occur only for serious offences. The major weakness of this approach is that it ignores the actions of many other parties (including ‘off-road’ parties such as consignors, manufacturers and loaders).

The Chain of Responsibility legislation will extend to all parties in the supply cycle from truck loaders, schedulers, consignors, consignees, freight agents, directors, and senior managers. Everyone in the supply chain could be responsible for their actions, not just the truck drivers as has been in the past.

Knowingly or unknowingly, the actions (or failure to act) of these parties in the chain can have a major effect on drivers’ fatigue, speeding, overloading and load restraint behaviour. Hence, former road transport laws tended to have little, if any, deterrent effect on these parties.

Chain of responsibility training has an important role in the transport industry.

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