In 2016, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) outlined its initial 10-year strategy for regulating transport safety and productivity. The NHVR has just conducted a midlife review of that strategy to ensure that it is on course.

Let's take a closer look at how the NHVR is tracking for insight into the future of regulation.

The key pillars of the NHVR's strategy are:

  1. safety
  2. productivity
  3. sustainability
  4. regulatory capability.

Together, the aim is to provide a nationally consistent, risk-based approach to regulation that allows for innovation by supply chain parties and removes roadblocks to productivity in order to prioritise safer and more productive supply chains.

The NHVR's midlife assessment of its strategy provides good insight into the future of regulation and operations in this space, so we take a look at each of the pillars in more detail below. The full report can be found here.

1. Safety

Where we're at

  • The ongoing acquisition of compliance and safety data by the NHVR is enabling it to advance its intelligence capability and develop a reliable safety profile for the heavy vehicle sector and broader supply chain.
  • There is increasing focus on fitness for work (mental and physical health) and its contribution to safety outcomes.
  • Emerging technology is delivering measurable improvements in safety.

Where we're going

  • The NHVR wants to work towards a truly nationally consistent safety framework.
  • The NHVR wants to develop a system of assurance that recognises safe and compliant businesses.
  • The NHVR will focus its compliance and enforcement activity on those operators and supply chain parties who pose the greatest risk to supply chain safety.

2. Productivity

Where we're at

  • Network access is currently constrained and prescriptive.
  • The freight task is growing quickly and cannot be constrained by an unwieldy access system.
  • Outcomes-based access decisions are needed to unlock productivity and reward safe operators and supply chains.

Where we're going

  • The creation of an open or 'as of right' network, removing the need for access applications for those routes.
  • The development of a single and intelligent national access map, showing routes, conditions, and intelligent routing options.
  • The adoption of risk-based access assessments, intended only to bar access to those operations assessed as higher risk.
  • Increase education and awareness among local government access decision-makers, to attempt to align decision-making nationally.

3. Sustainability

Where we're at

  • Uptake of environmental technologies continues to rise.
  • There is increasing uptake of modern, efficient, and cleaner vehicles, raising the baseline of the national fleet.
  • More effort is needed to ensure that truck driving is seen as a viable opportunity for school leavers.

Where we're going

  • A reduction in the average age of the national fleet.
  • Incentives to uptake newer vehicles or environmental technologies, including improved access to cleaner, safer vehicles.
  • Transition of proven performance-based vehicle designs to the 'ordinary' national fleet, to alleviate the additional regulatory burden currently imposed on supply chains in which such vehicles are used.
  • Standard fitting of new technologies to all new vehicles.

4. Regulatory capability

Where we're at

  • Ongoing review of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).
  • Growing establishment of national intelligence capabilities, enabling targeted compliance and enforcement action.

Where we're going

  • A national regulator, with the NHVR assuming control and responsibility for HVNL administration across all HVNL jurisdictions.
  • Increased data sharing between the NHVR and industry, to provide immediate guidance to industry on safety, compliance and performance.
  • Recognition of the NHVR as a trusted mentor in heavy vehicle and supply chain safety.


There is still a way to go before we reach the end of the NHVR's current 10-year strategy. Nevertheless, it is a positive sign that the NHVR is conducting a performance health check along the way and that many of the opportunities or targets identified involve greater information, support, and productivity outcomes for the industry.

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.