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

Last Updated: 14 July 2017
Article by Dilip Ramaswamy (formerly with Holding Redlich)

Most Read Contributor in Australia, October 2018

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.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Holding Redlich
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 Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Holding Redlich
Related Articles
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
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

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 or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq 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 of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions