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Australian National Heavy Vehicle Laws

On 10 February 2014, the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL), covering all heavy vehicles over 4.5 tonnes, commenced in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). The law covers matters relating to vehicle standards, mass dimensions and loadings, fatigue management, the Intelligent Access Program, heavy vehicle accreditation and on-road enforcement. The ACT has partially implemented the legislation and will proclaim remaining elements of the legislation at a later date. Western Australia and the Northern Territory are not participating in the national reform at this time.
While the HVNL has been in existence for over 6 years our National Logistics Manager, John Markham, gives this brief reminder of the load restraint and dangerous goods requirements of the HVNL.
Australia has stringent road safety laws to ensure the safety of all road users, members of the public, road infrastructure and the environment. When goods are imported into, or exported from, Australia, they must be packed and loaded in such a way to comply with the Heavy Vehicle National Law. 
This law prescribes that loads that trucks must not:
  • Be loaded overweight with overall gross weight or individual axle weights
  • Exceed their prescribed dimensions; and
Loads must be secure and restrained. Uneven, unrestrained loads can cause the vehicle to be become unstable increase the risk of rollovers and other accidents.
Many stevedores have a weighbridge at their facility and containers are weighed before they leave the Port. If they are found to be overweight, or unevenly loaded, the container cannot leave the Port precinct. If your container is found to be non-compliant, it will not be able to be transported on Australian roads and additional costs will be incurred in having it unpacked, repacked and redistributed in order to be delivered.
If a heavy vehicle is involved in an accident resulting in fatalities, a detailed investigation is carried out and it is our obligation to inform you of the requirement to ensure your goods do not expose the Australian public, road users, road infrastructure to risk of injury or damage.
What the Law Requires
What you must do
Loading - overall weight must need exceed the weight that can be carried by the vehicle.
Ensure that Container Weight Declarations are accurate.
Ensure that weight of individual packages/pallets is provided on the paperwork and is accurate.
Loading – the weight in the container must be distributed evenly, and not favour a particular end or side.
Know the weight of the goods being packed and have your packer show you a load plan that ensures even distribution of the weight.
Loading - must be secured and restrained to prevent movement, in accordance with the Australian Load Restraint Guide.
Provide the packer of your containers with information from the Load Restraint Guide for the goods you are importing, so the container is packed to prevent the goods moving when they are being transported by road.
Dangerous Goods
You must declare Dangerous Goods you are importing as drivers must have a special licence to transport dangerous goods, paperwork and clean up arrangements must be readily available. Information on requirements for transport of Dangerous Goods is available in the Australian Dangerous Goods Code
The Load Restraint Guide is available from
The Australian Dangerous Goods Code is available from
If you have any questions or require further information, please contact your dedicated Customer Service Representative.
John Markham
National Logistics Manager