– By Caroline Falls –
The Heavy Vehicle National Law Amendment has passed the Qld Parliament, enshrining electronic work diaries, or EWDs, as a voluntary option to written work diaries across Australia.
“That’s the biggest news that’s happened for a while in regards to EWD progress,” said Andrew Rossington, CEO of Transtech, a supplier of telematics for the transport industry.
The passing of the amendment, foreshadowed by Fleet Auto News early in September, was the culmination of years of consultation, including a pilot project of EWDs in trucks.
The next step is the issue of an approved specification for EWDs. That’s in the hands of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator. NHVR said such a spec will be ready “early 2016”.
“We’re a big supporter of getting this implemented,” said Rossington. “We have a lot of customers investing in type-approved equipment now and being able to add the EWD capability to it will add value for them. All of them are saying this is going to be so much better for us.”
So-called type-approved equipment refers to conformity with a specification of Transport Certification Australia for use with other telematics functions, including tracking, navigation, fleet management and meeting other regulations.
TCA CEO Chris Koniditsiotis said the authority will finalise the EWD Functional and Technical Specification and then it will be up to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator to implement it.
“The timing of the specification will be influenced by a number of activities, including (further) engagement with key stakeholders in the road transport and telematics industries ,” said Koniditsiotis.
Meanwhile, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s executive director for regulatory compliance, Geoff Casey, told Fleet Auto News, “It is anticipated the specs will be available early 2016.”
He said the EWD spec was one of a number of new technology initiatives being put in place as part of a broader national initiative to see heavy vehicles operate safely. Among them, is the TCA’s Functional and Technical Specification for Telematics In-Vehicle Units, commonly referred to as IVUs, developed to support the expanding use of telematics by freight operators.
The specification sets out the core requirements for things like accuracy and security to fulfil the needs for type-approval. Type approved IVUs will be the hardware platform that EWDs are based on.
“Transport operators are buying these approved IVUs or ‘black boxes’ on the basis that EWDs are coming. They can already use these for other regulatory programmes such as IAP but are now looking to maximise their investment,” said Rossington.
IAP refers to the Intelligence Access Program, an NHVR managed program that uses satellite and wireless technology to monitor heavy vehicles on the national road network. Transtech’s telematics or IVUs are type certified and used by IAP participants.
Rikki Waddell, sales manager, OLBIS, a Navman Wireless dealer, says he expects the new law will also unleash new business from demand that’s pent up awaiting this development.
“A lot of fleet operators have put it off (installing telematics) because they don’t want to install a system that’s not approved,” said Waddell.
The laws enact recommendations of the National Transport Commission to Australia’s transport ministers in May last year. The commission’s role is to advise the ministerial group.
“We expect many drivers will choose them once they are widely commercially available,” said NTC CEO Paul Retter. “EWDs make it much easier to comply with the law and stay safe of the road,” he said, adding, drivers who “choose to use an EWD will also receive extra benefits from using them such as receiving alerts when breaks are required”.
The EWD option is going to be popular but it won’t suit everyone. Switching to electronic devices is going to be a challenge for some drivers and some resistance to changing over is expected, according to one industry participant. “A lot of businesses will stay with written log books,” he said.
The amendment passed in the Qld Parliament on 16th September. Because Qld is the home of the NHVR and is the host state of the legislation, it is automatically effective in all states and territories except for South Australia where an additional amendment is required. The new law is scheduled to be proclaimed in February next year.