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Road safety could be enhanced by improving the consistency of road rules and vehicle standards across the country, according to a National Transport Commission (NTC) report released today for public consultation.

Improving consistency of road rules and vehicle roadworthiness standards could make our roads safer

26 July 2013

Road safety could be enhanced by improving the consistency of road rules and vehicle standards across the country, according to a National Transport Commission (NTC) report released today for public consultation.

NTC Chief Executive Officer and Commissioner, Paul Retter AM said the Review of the Australian Road Rules and Vehicle Standards Rules – Draft Evaluation Report recommends a range of measures to improve the development and implementation of the Australian Road Rules and Australian Vehicle Standards Rules.

“Since the national road and vehicle standards rules were introduced in 1999 they have helped to make these rules much more consistent across Australia, improving road safety,” said Mr Retter.

“However, further improvements are proposed to ensure that some important rules are uniform, and that rule changes are implemented in a consistent and timely manner.”

The major recommendation from the Draft Evaluation Report 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.

An applied law approach involves one state enacting a law, which the other states and territories 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. This affects the efficiency and safety of our transport system,” said Mr Retter.

“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,” said Mr Retter.

The Australian Vehicle Standards Rules relating to heavy vehicles are already created with applied law and are administered by the new National Heavy Vehicle Regulator. The NTC’s proposed reform would extend the use of applied law to cover all types of vehicles.

Other draft recommendations made in the report include:
  • investigating better ways of coordinating government processes to ensure that regulation for issues that run across multiple levels of governments are better coordinated
  • updating the objectives of the Australian Road Rules to become more targeted, concise and measurable
  • strengthening consultation and engagement with stakeholders during the update process for the Australian Road Rules and Australian Vehicle Standards Rules
  • improving the planning process for updating the rules.

The Draft Evaluation Report has been informed by submissions the NTC received to its 2011 discussion paper, Review of the Australian Road Rules and Australian Vehicle Standards Rules, as well as additional research.

The NTC is now seeking feedback on the recommendations contained in the Draft Evaluation Report, until submissions close on 2 September 2013. Submissions received will be used to inform the final recommendations to be submitted to ministers from the Standing Council on Transport and Infrastructure in late 2013.

The Draft Evaluation Report does not review the content of specific individual road rules, which are reviewed periodically by dedicated maintenance groups. The latest package of amendments to the Australian Road Rules will be released separately for public consultation later this month.


About the Australian Road Rules

The Australian Road Rules establish the basic rules of the road for motorists, motorcyclists, cyclists, pedestrians, passengers and other road users.

About the Australian Vehicle Standards Rules

These rules establish the in-service standards for heavy and light vehicles, otherwise known as ‘roadworthiness’ standards. 

Last Updated: 18/11/2016