10 Aug 2015 Understanding Chain of Responsibility
A few months ago, the Chain of Responsibility (COR) legislation was fully implemented in Western Australia to promote road safety. Incorporating COR in the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) was welcomed by the public because of the implication of road accidents involving heavy vehicles, especially where trucks transport goods similar to construction materials. According to NSW records, heavy vehicles account for an average of 18.5 percent of all road accidents in the years 2012 and 2013.
COR technically refers to the shared responsibility among people that have anything to do with the transportation of materials through a heavy vehicle. The people involved are those that schedule the load and transport; staff involved in the consignment; those who do the packing, loading, driving, operating, managing and receiving. While it used to be just the driver involved in the accident, this time, it has become a team responsibility through indirect participation, hence, chain of responsibility. The law also goes beyond the people who have actual hand in the transport; managers and employers, as well as the partners, now have legal accountability.
A road accident involving a heavy vehicle in January 2012, which led to the death of three people, prompted action that resulted in the passage of the COR. Several trucking companies were charged with speeding offences. Respondents were not limited to the drivers and operators of the trucking companies as these also included supervisors and directors.
For a long time, only the drivers and operators suffer the brunt of the legal liability during road accidents involving heavy vehicles. But government officials and legislators realised, after years of road-disaster analysis that it is unfair to just point at the driver and operator when breaches may have been committed before the actual transport.