by Jonathan Bhana-Thomson, chief executive, NZ Heavy Haulage Association
In the transport sector, ‘VDAM’ is the bible for transporting overdimension loads, and to a lesser extent loads that need overweight permits to travel. This is the Vehicle Dimensions and Mass Rule that has been in place since 2002.
For more than two years this association has, along with many other industry bodies and individual companies and people, contributed ideas and desires for what the VDAM rule might contain. This has been part of a review process – the first major one in about 15 years. It is interesting that this process started as a ‘reform’ but has ended up a ‘review’.
Given the length of time that the rule has been in place, this association has a pent up set of ideas that have been percolating over the time since the rule was put in place. We have been keen to advance these, and some of them relate to the opportunities that new technologies offer – such as LED signage and website permit applications.
However, others relate to the constantly evolving environment that transport companies operate in – with ever increasing compliance and need for better standards.
On this topic we see that there are opportunities to improve the standard and level of training that load pilots receive. These people perform an important role in ensuring the safety of oversize loads that are transported, and we need to ensure that they stay focused on this job and have the skills and expertise to carry it out. We are hopeful of seeing some downstream changes to pilot licensing and training even if we don’t see this directly in the rule.
Another change that will bear benefits is a clear line of authority and delegated authority for compliance with the rule and conditions for travel. The ‘operator’ will clearly be responsible for overall compliance, but we want to see that some of the on-road compliance is delegated to a person in the convoy nominated as the ‘on-road supervisor’.
We are confident that we will see a number of items tidied up that will ensure that compliance is easier, such as the positioning and constitution of hazard panels and pilots signs; the rationalisation of travel times and zones where required; the simplification of category tables that detail the various compliance requirements; and the retention of hazard warning flags for the category 1 loads during the day.
One of the major developments in VDAM that the association has been pushing for is the use of alternative pilot signage that can be approved by NZTA. To this end the association has been trialling alternative signage types, colours and wording that we intend to submit for approval.
While we have been collating feedback in many forms, we are seeking feedback from other road users about what they believe is more effective.
Below are some photo’s of the alternative signage that members of the association has been using, and I request your feedback if you see these out on the road, or on the basis of the examples below. Please contact us on: firstname.lastname@example.org or 04 472 0366
We are interested to know whether the new wording and colour (letters in reflective) is more effective than the current signage.
Class 1: Current Sign (L), New Wording & Colour (R)
House Follows – Night: New Colour (L), Current Sign (R)
House Stop: Current Sign (L), New Wording & Colour (R)
Wide Load Follows: New Colour (L), Current Sign (R)