Machinery movement laws still require tweaks: Baines

Machinery movement laws still require tweaks: Baines

Machinery
WHOLE APPROACH: EP farm safety consultant Karen Baines says education campaigns should be held for other road users.

WHOLE APPROACH: EP farm safety consultant Karen Baines says education campaigns should be held for other road users.

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Agricultural heavy vehicle movement laws need tweaking to ensure they suit today's farming businesses, according to SA farm safety consultant Karen Baines.

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Agricultural heavy vehicle movement laws need tweaking to ensure they suit today's farming businesses, according to SA farm safety consultant Karen Baines.

The National Class 1 Agricultural Vehicle and Combination Mass and Dimension Extension Notice 2019 was implemented in May, replacing existing access arrangements nationally.

Mrs Baines said the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator had been receptive to constructive criticism and was willing to review the new parameters, which in some instances were "unachievable".

"In the lower rainfall zones, farmers don't always have access to the extra people that might be required to comply with changes to piloting regulations," she said.

Citing statistics from the Centre for Automotive Safety Research, based at the University of Adelaide, Ms Baines said some of the changes were inconsistent with the risk level that history demonstrated.

According to the SA Traffic Accident Reporting system from 2014 to 2018, "other defined motor vehicles" - fire trucks, ambulances, garbage trucks and ride-on lawnmowers, as well as agricultural machines - accounted for 64 of 32,000 crashes, or 0.2 per cent. It says just 16 crashes out of 75,000 across the past five years involved towing agricultural equipment, which is 0.02pc, with no injuries reported

Risk management needs to be balanced with what is necessary to maintain and improve safety. - KAREN BAINES

"Risk management needs to be balanced with what is actually necessary to maintain and improve safety," Ms Baines said. "Our system has been working quite successfully to-date."

In 2018, the National Farmers' Federation engaged Richard Franklin from James Cook University to investigate the risk levels of large agricultural machinery on roads.

He concluded that "while there are incidents on public roads, the numbers appear to be small, especially in comparison to other vehicles".

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"There is always room for improvement with any on-road movement and that should always be encouraged," Mrs Baines said.

"But I think it's also time to educate other road users, like the campaigns that the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom actively engage in."

The new system has reduced the number of zones across the country from 26 to five, with machinery dimensions defined for each. Differences across state borders have been minimised.

SA producers can continue to use the existing system until May 1 next year, when the new code will be implemented.

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