The Heavy Vehicle National Law and Regulator

Most Australian States and Territories now operate under a uniform national law in relation to truck and heavy vehicle issues. This law is known as the Heavy Vehicle National Law. It is overseen by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.

Why Was The National Law Adopted?

The Heavy Vehicle National Law (National Law) came into effect in early 2014. Prior to that time each State and Territory had their own laws regarding truck and heavy vehicle issues.

The differences between the laws in different States and Territories made it difficult for transport companies to operate because much of the work in the industry involves moving between States. Companies often needed to comply with several different sets of mass, loading, dimension and fatigue rules for one journey. They also needed to obtain permits and accreditation for each State or Territory that they travelled to. This led to significant duplication of work.

The adoption of the uniform Heavy Vehicle National Law streamlined this process. It meant that most States and Territories had the same rules for trucking issues. The creation of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator also reduced the duplication of work by issuing permits and accreditations that applied nationwide.

What States And Territories Have Adopted The National Law?

As at February 2015, the following States and Territories have adopted the Heavy Vehicle National Law:

  • Queensland
  • New South Wales
  • Victoria
  • South Australia
  • Tasmania
  • Australian Capital Territory

Western Australia and the Northern Territory have not joined the National Law at this stage.

What Trucking And Heavy Vehicle Matters Does The Heavy Vehicle National Law Deal With?

The following topics are now dealt with by the Heavy Vehicle National Law:

  • Vehicle standards and safety
  • Driver fatigue
  • Mass, loading and dimension limits and exemptions
  • Heavy vehicle speeding
  • Performance Based Standards (PBS)
  • Intelligent Access Program (IAP)
  • Accreditation programs, such as the Advances Fatigue Management (AFM) and Basic Fatigue Management (BFM) schemes
  • Enforcement and investigation powers
  • Penalties for offences under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (such as fatigue, mass, loading or dimension breaches)

This means that the laws in relation to those things are the same between participating States and Territories.

What Tasks Will The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator Assist Me With?

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator oversees the implementation of all aspects of the Heavy Vehicle National Law. You should contact the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator if you need assistance with any of the topics covered by the Heavy Vehicle National Law.

In particular, the Regulator is the point of contact for the following:

  • Issuing of work diaries
  • Fatigue management exemptions (permits and notices)
  • Heavy vehicle accreditations, such as mass management, maintenance management, and fatigue management
  • Exemptions of requirements from heavy vehicle standards
  • Most access permits (e.g. mass or dimension exemptions)

Are Any Trucking And Heavy Vehicle Matters Still The Responsibility Of The State Authorities?

The State and Territory authorities have maintained responsibility for some aspects of trucking and heavy vehicle operations.

These include:

  • vehicle registration
  • vehicle inspections
  • driver licensing
  • all matters relating to the carriage of dangerous goods
  • some access permits

You should contact your State or Territory authority for assistance with the above topics. In NSW that is the RMS (RTA).

Who Enforces The Heavy Vehicle National Law?

The Heavy Vehicle National Law is enforced by the State or Territory authority in which the breach occurred. In NSW this means that the RMS (RTA) is responsible for bring proceedings for breaches of the National Law.

Prosecutions for offences under the Heavy Vehicle National Law will be dealt with in the Courts of the State or Territory where the offence occurred. This means that the rules of Court and the criminal justice system of that State or Territory will apply. This means that there can be some differences in the way offences can be dealt with between jurisdictions.

What Happens If I Am Charged With The Same Offence In Different States?

Sometimes a single breach of the Heavy Vehicle National Law will occur over more than one participating State or Territory. In these cases, the person can only be prosecuted in one State or Territory for that single offence.


In NSW, traffic offences are treated seriously. Therefore, it is important to get competent legal advice as early as possible, whether you have received a penalty notice, had your licence suspended or been charged with a serious offence. Our lawyers are highly experienced and understand the difficulties you face without a licence. We can guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.


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