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by Tim Beissmann

A consistent set of road rules and vehicle standards across the country could improve road safety, according to a new report published by the federal government’s National Transport Commission (NTC).

The major recommendation from the draft evaluation report, Review of the Australian Road Rules and Vehicle Standards Rules, is to move from the current ‘model law’ approach, which is a guide for states and territories to create their own laws, to an ‘applied law’ approach.

NTC CEO and commissioner Paul Retter explained an applied law system involves one state enacting a law that the other states and territories may then use as their own legislation.

“While the model law approach has produced generally good outcomes, it has led to the inconsistent implementation of some rules because of variations made by states and territories, and different periods of time taken to introduce new or updated rules” Retter said.

“This affects the efficiency and safety of our transport system.

“We are now seeking more information on the costs and benefits of moving to an applied law approach, in order to prepare a detailed cost-benefit analysis for ministers to consider.”

Retter said the national road and vehicle standards rules had helped to make the rules much more consistent across Australia since being introduced in 1999, but said the NTC was proposing further improvements to ensure that some important rules became uniform and that rule changes were implemented in a consistent and timely manner.

The draft evaluation report does not review the content of specific road rules, which are reviewed periodically by independent maintenance groups.

The NTC is seeking feedback on the recommendations in the draft evaluation report until submissions close on September 2. The submissions will help inform the final recommendations to be submitted to ministers from the Standing Council on Transport and Infrastructure in late 2013.




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