A Series of Heavy Vehicle Regulation Reforms on the Horizon in 2024

Australia heavily relies on its vast network of roads, with the majority of our essential goods and services transported by the massive road trains and trucks that traverse these distances every day. Heavy vehicles are critical to keeping our country running, so it makes sense that they need to be strictly regulated. However, with various regulation reforms in progress, it can be difficult to ensure your company is compliant.

How Are Heavy Vehicles Regulated in Australia?

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) is a single regulatory body, established in 2013 with the intention of transitioning all the states and territories onto consistent heavy vehicle regulation, with ‘a more streamlined approach to service delivery, compliance, and enforcement’. The NHVR now applies and enforces the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) across New South Wales, Victoria, the ACT, Tasmania, South Australia, and Queensland—Western Australia and the Northern Territory have opted out. (National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, 2023)

According to a spokesperson from Main Roads WA, Western Australia has found the laws are too focussed on ‘the freight task on the east coast’. And there is similar sentiment from the Northern Territory, with NT Road Transport Association (NTRTA) Executive Officer Louise Bilato saying the laws are currently not ‘workable’ for the NT. (Graham, 2024)

Despite this pushback, the NHVR is on track to meet its goal of becoming the overall national regulator. Queensland has just announced the state is moving their heavy vehicle compliance from the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) to NHVR on 20 April 2024. (National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, 2024)

Heavy Vehicle Law and Regulation Reforms on the Horizon

In 2022, Australia’s infrastructure and transport ministers agreed to progress a package of heavy vehicle reforms, beginning with forming a steering committee to oversee the delivery of the 45 proposed initiatives. The National Transport Commission (NTC) is managing the development of the legislative reforms, while the non-legislative reforms are controlled by each jurisdiction—so for the eastern states, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR). (Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications, and the Arts, 2023)

Limitations of the Current Heavy Vehicle National Law (Hvnl)

As part of these widespread reforms, the HVNL is being evaluated in a Heavy Vehicle National Law Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (C-RIS), which finished its public consultation phase in November 2023. Industry experts, governments, police, and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) itself contributed insights for assessment. (National Transport Commission, 2024)

In the C-RIS consultations, the National Transport Commission (NTC) gathered input on the following policy recommendations:

  • A modern regulatory framework
  • An improved National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme (NHVAS)
  • A technology and data framework
  • An expanded driver duty (The Office of Impact Analysis, 2023)

How the Recommendations Could Translate to Real-World Changes

The C-RIS discussion points can sound quite esoteric, but they relate to significant future changes on the ground. During consultations, the National Transport Commission (NTC) explored the potential of:

  • A National Automated Access System (NAAS)
  • A National Access Framework for Heavy Vehicles (NAFHV)
  • An Operator Risk Profiling (ORP) tool
  • Simplifying record keeping, like the National Written Work Diary
  • Developing the guidelines and procedures for Fatigue Distraction Detection Technology
  • Improving the diagnosis of sleep apnoea, diabetes, and cardiac risk levels for the Assessing Fitness to Drive guidelines (Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications, and the Arts, 2023)

What Is the Outlook for These Proposed Reforms in 2024?

The Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) reforms are slow-moving, with the governments continually adding extensions to the process. In December 2023, it was announced that due to the complexity of drafting the new law, it would now be presented to ministers in late 2024 (National Transport Commission, 2024). The National Road Transport Association opposed this delay, as it pushes the introduction of the new HVNL until at least 2025. (Clark, 2024)

National Heavy Vehicle Driver Competency Framework

Outside of the overhaul of the HVNL, 2024 saw transport ministers endorsing a National Heavy Vehicle Driver Competency Framework Decision Regulation Impact Statement (Decision RIS), which proposes reforms to improve existing heavy vehicle training and licensing methods. (“National consistent approach to driver training”, 2023)

The Decision RIS recommends:

  • Redesigning learning and assessment requirements specific to each licence class.
  • Requiring minimum course lengths and behind-the-wheel time.
  • Delivering some training and assessment online to allow flexibility for licence applicants.
  • Introducing experience-based licence progression pathways. (Clark, 2024)

Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Carol Brown said, “Any death on our roads is one too many—so our government welcomes measures such as this, which promise to support the safety of the hard-working truckies and bus drivers who keep Australia moving.” (“National consistent approach to driver training”, 2023)

Preparing for Widespread Heavy Vehicle Regulation Reforms

For companies that have heavy vehicles as part of their operation—defined as a gross vehicle or aggregate trailer mass of more than 4.5 tonnes (National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, 2023)—these upcoming reforms will directly impact your compliance requirements. With both legislative and non-legislative reforms, all at different stages of progression, it would take a lot of administrative time to stay informed. The team at Kinatico are experts in industry-specific compliance requirements and can help ensure your company is safely compliant and prepared for future changes.


“National Services Transition”. National Heavy Vehicle Regulator. (2023). https://www.nhvr.gov.au/about-us/national-services-transition

Graham, J. (2024, January 19). Why WA and the NT aren’t going to sign up to the HVNL. Big Rigs. https://bigrigs.com.au/2024/01/19/why-wa-and-the-nt-arent-going-to-sign-up-to-the-hvnl/

“NHVR to deliver heavy vehicle regulatory services in Queensland, from 20 April”. National Heavy Vehicle Regulator. (2024). https://www.nhvr.gov.au/news/2024/02/15/nhvr-to-deliver-heavy-vehicle-regulatory-services-in-queensland-from-20-april#:~:text=The%20National%20Heavy%20Vehicle%20Regulator,)%2C%20on%2020%20April%202024

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications, and the Arts. (2023). Heavy Vehicle National Law Reform: Implementation progress update. Australian Government. https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/hvnl_reform_progress_report_-_august_2023_final.pdf

“Towards an updated Heavy Vehicle National Law”. National Transport Commission. (2024). https://www.ntc.gov.au/transport-reform/ntc-projects/hvnl-reform

“Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) High-Level Regulatory Framework”. The Office of Impact Analysis. (2023). https://oia.pmc.gov.au/published-impact-analyses-and-reports/heavy-vehicle-national-law-hvnl-high-level-regulatory

Clark, W. (2024, February 14). From the CEO: The Year of the Dragon brings more challenge and change for the heavy vehicle industry. National Road Transport Association. https://www.natroad.com.au/from-the-ceo-the-year-of-the-dragon-brings-more-challenge-and-change-for-the-heavy-vehicle-industry/

National consistent approach to driver training welcomed by Federal Govt. (2023, December 20). Prime Mover Magazine. https://primemovermag.com.au/national-consistent-approach-to-driver-training-welcomed-by-federal-govt/

Clark, W. (2024, February 8). From the CEO: Driver competency reform reaches a milestone. National Road Transport Association. https://www.natroad.com.au/from-the-ceo-driver-competency-reform-reaches-a-milestone/

“What is a heavy vehicle?”. National Heavy Vehicle Regulator. (2023). https://www.nhvr.gov.au/about-us/who-we-are/what-is-a-heavy-vehicle

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