To what lengths is a farmer, who employs a driver / transport operator to deliver or pick up product from their farms, required to go to make sure they are meeting their legal responsibilities under the Chain of Responsibility (CoR) Legislation?
Under CoR, all parties who have control or influence over the transport task are deemed responsible for complying with, and for breaches of, these laws.
To put it simply, a farmer who engages the services of a transport operator needs to take all reasonable steps to manage the risks involved with the task and ensure road safety is not compromised.
There are no limits to the ways you can do this, and what constitutes reasonable steps will vary according to each individual’s circumstances. Whilst Main Roads recommends each farmer obtains their own independent legal advice, the following can be used as a guide.
Reasonable steps you can take
If the farmer loads the product onto the transport operator’s vehicle, they have a responsibility to ensure the vehicle is loaded within the allowable mass and dimension limits. They also need to ensure the driver of the vehicle has an appropriate Main Roads permit, or approval, allowing the vehicle to operate at that level of mass and/or dimension.
The farmer must not influence the driver / transport operator to take more on the vehicle than legally allowed.
Additionally, the farmer must ensure the vehicle combination, such as a road train, is allowed to travel on the roads that access their farm. Therefore, if a farmer requests a transport operator to undertake the task of carting their grain, the farmer must first ensure the vehicle combinations being used can legally access the road/s to their property.
While it is not expected that a farmer checks the entire route the vehicle has used to reach their premises, consideration must be given to the road/s directly around their premises. This may mean they need to familiarise themselves with the Restricted Access Vehicle (RAV) networks. This information can be found on the Main Roads website, via the Heavy Vehicles home page and by selecting the RAV Network Access and RAV Mapping Tool tabs.
A farmer can be found in breach of the CoR legislation if they induce a cartage contractor to travel on a road that is not permitted for RAV travel.
Currently Main Roads has conducted over 200 CoR prosecutions since the legislation was introduced. This has included not only the driver and Transport Company but also the consignor and loader who are also part of the chain. There are currently 23 investigations underway into CoR breaches which involve various parties in the chain.
Any access arrangements permitted through any Main Roads scheme do not abrogate either the farmer or the transport operator from their legal responsibilities under road transport law.
Agricultural Pilots for Oversize Agricultural Machinery
The introduction of new Pilot Vehicle Regulations (PVR) in November 2016 provided Main Roads with the opportunity to clarify requirements regarding the movement of oversize agricultural machinery.
Prior to the introduction of the PVRs, the Towed Agricultural Implement Regulations were silent on the requirements relating to the driver of a pilot vehicle. As such, there was ambiguity as to whether or not the driver of the pilot vehicle needed to be accredited or a Licenced Pilot.
The legislation introduced in 2016 required all heavy vehicle pilots to be licensed. This change was implemented following consultation with the pilot and transport industries to improve industry standards and safety on our roads. A 12 month transition programme was deployed to enable accredited heavy vehicle pilots to become licensed, which ended on 28 November 2017.
To provide continuity of the pragmatic approach adopted for movement of agricultural machinery, and to ensure the new legislation did not adversely impact the agricultural industry, the Heavy Vehicle Agricultural Pilot Authorisation was gazetted on 24 November 2017.
This authorisation provides holders of a current motor vehicle drivers licence the authority to drive pilot vehicles when escorting some agricultural machinery subject to conditions as specified in the authorisation.
The authorisation eliminates the need for the farmer to pay for a professional licensed pilot to escort these movements and instead enables short term seasonal or temporary employees, for example, to perform this escort.
The legislation relating to licensed pilots combined with this authorisation has resulted in the general rules for movement of agricultural machinery as out lined below;
- An agricultural pilot can only facilitate the movement of an oversize vehicle for agricultural or primary production purposes, including the movement of agricultural vehicles by an agricultural vehicle dealer and an earthmoving contractor specifically engaged in agricultural applications.
- An agricultural pilot can only be used to facilitate the movement of an oversize agricultural vehicle for a maximum distance of 100km.
- An agricultural pilot is there to provide advance warning of an oversize load and is not authorised to direct traffic.
- An agricultural pilot can only be used to facilitate the movement of an oversize agricultural vehicle on local government roads. However, a Main Roads controlled road may be used, provided it is only used for the shortest distance necessary to access the nearest appropriate local government road.
Agricultural pilots may not accompany agricultural vehicles wider than 6m and/or longer than 40m. Such vehicles may be accompanied by WA heavy vehicle licensed pilots only and might require additional safety measures as stated on the relevant permits, which could include traffic escort wardens.
For further information about agricultural pilots or heavy vehicle pilot licencing in Western Australia, please contact our Heavy Vehicle Helpdesk on 138 486 .