Australia: Speed compliance for heavy vehicles – implications for businesses and on the road

Under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL), compliance with prescribed speed limits is an essential issue for road safety. In this article, we explore the concept of speed limiters for heavy vehicles and the news that brought this issue back into the national focus. We also explore the various methods that can be implemented by transport companies to ensure their heavy vehicles are compliant with the road safety speed laws.

Compliance under the HVNL

The HVNL requires parties in the chain to take all reasonable steps to prevent speeding compliance offences. This can be partly achieved by fitting company vehicles with a speed limiter that complies with the Vehicle Standard (Australian Design Rule 65/00 – Maximum Road Speed Limiting for Heavy Goods Vehicles and Heavy Omnibuses) 2006 (Vehicle Standard) and HVNL. The Vehicle Standard and HVNL both require vehicles more than 4.5 tonnes Gross Vehicle Mass to be speed limited at 100 km/h. They also provide that a person must not tamper with a speed limiter fitted to a heavy vehicle in such a way that it enables the vehicle to be driven at a speed higher than the speed permitted by the HVNL or if it results in the speed limiter recording inaccurate information.

The incentive for parties to 'tamper' or 'adjust' a speed limiter is clear. Everyone runs on a deadline and if a driver can reach a destination sooner rather than later, then this an attractive proposition for parties in the Chain. However, in the discussion paper titled "Enforcement Approaches for Speeding Heavy Vehicles" issued by the National Transport Commission has uncovered a number of issues in relation to speeding including (but not limited to):

  1. speeding is a significant factor in heavy vehicle crashes and is likely to be a greater risk with heavy vehicles than lighter vehicles
  2. there is an adverse effect on the community from fatalities and injuries from heavy vehicle crashes where speeding is a factor
  3. heavy vehicle drivers can be put under pressure from other parties in the supply chain to meet deadlines, which can influence on-road speeding; and
  4. speeding heavy vehicles attract higher operating and maintenance costs.

Why has this come about?

The issue of speed compliance recently come to the fore after a number of heavy vehicle enforcement operations across the country involving defective speed limiters.

For example, on 8 March 2017, officers from the NSW Joint Traffic Task Force, were conducting heavy vehicle enforcement on the Newell Highway, Brockelhurst where they found a truck to have a non-compliant speed limiter, allowing it to travel to a maximum speed of 150km/h. As a result, the driver of the truck was issued with an infringement notice for having a non-compliant speed limiter. It was noted by the Assistant Commissioner of NSW Police Michael Corboy that the NSW Police Force would continue to target those in the trucking industry who are putting lives at risk. It goes without saying that vehicles that can operate at speeds above the permissible limit are a danger to everyone on the road.

Methods of testing

A real practical compliance issue arises for drivers – how can a driver tell that a company-provided heavy vehicle has a compliant and functioning speed limiter installed before hitting the road?

Generally, businesses and investigators use a variety of testing methods, including:

  1. 'Roadside' testing – involves hooking a computer up to the vehicle and accessing the controlling computer program (usually required to be conducted by a trained mechanic or authorised person)
  2. GPS matching – analysing GPS location/vehicle tracking vs speedo readings to detect any inconsistencies
  3. Data download – download the vehicle's speed records and review for instances of speeding, including permitted speeding over the speed limited range.

Often, more than one method is used to cross-check and verify results.

At the outset, you can see that most drivers are not going to be able to utilise any of these methods to confirm that the truck that they have been given is speed limiter compliant, before they hit the road. As a matter of practice, drivers can typically only verify the fitting and functioning of a speed limiter by taking the vehicle up to 100km/h and seeing if the speed limiter kicks in. However, if a speed limiter is not fitted or functioning, the driver has already (and unknowingly) committed an offence before they have the opportunity to test the vehicle.

Drivers can seek some assurance by first ensuring that an operator has in place speed testing and reporting policies, which at least indicate that that the operator is aware of its obligations and has in place systems which seek to ensure compliance.

If a driver suspects that a vehicle's speed limiter may be defective or non-compliant, they must stop driving, report the problem and attempt to resolve it prior to resuming their journey.


It is also essential that businesses have clear systems and policies in place for reporting and repairing speed limiters while also having clear policies in place for deterring speed limiter tampering. As we have said countless times, the purpose of the Chain of Responsibility laws is to ensure that all parties have policies and procedures in place to avoid breaches of road transport laws. We would also like to acknowledge and thank Mr Justin Fleming of Trucksafe for his input into this article. Mr Fleming provided insight into the practical issues relating to speed limiter compliance, including various methods of testing compliance. Any shortcomings or omissions are our own.

This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

*** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.