Road Vehicle Compliance Update—Issue 2 March 2018

In this issue:

Message from the Administrator

Welcome to the second issue of the Road Vehicle Compliance Update.

Since the last Update in December, the Road Vehicle Standards Bill and associated legislation have been introduced into parliament. This is a significant milestone and in anticipation of a transition to the framework outlined in the legislation, we are now stepping up our efforts to ensure we are ready.

As part of this transition we are making a number of improvements and changes to our business processes and practices so we can more effectively achieve our regulatory outcome of improved vehicle safety that delivers economic benefits.

This is a substantial body of work which will run in parallel with our current responsibilities. We will be using our current activities to trial and test new approaches and practices to the way we conduct our regulatory activities.

During this period we will continue to work with you all to capture your feedback and views to inform these improvements and to best position ourselves, and our stakeholders, for the changes that are coming.

Overall, we hope these changes result in improved regulatory interactions with you, our stakeholders, and the achievement of improved vehicle safety and consumer choice.

Sharon Nyakuengama
Administrator of Vehicle Standards

New vehicle manufacturers—areas of compliance focus

In response to some identified compliance issues, the department is currently focusing on a number of areas as part of its compliance monitoring activities. These include:

  • Emergency exits on buses
  • Quality management systems—design change control procedures
  • Left to right hand drive steering conversions
  • Manufacturers’ recall procedures
  • Conformity of Production performance for heavy trailer manufacturers

The department will be focusing in detail on these aspects of compliance when conducting audits and inspections on new vehicle manufacturers.

Please ensure you familiarise yourself with your obligations and requirements relating to these topics. To assist, the department has released two new fact sheets on design change control PDF: 338 KB ReadSpeaker and emergency exit requirements for double deck buses PDF: 195 KB ReadSpeaker.

Registered Automotive Workshops—areas of compliance focus

In response to some identified compliance issues, the department is currently focusing on a number of areas as part of its compliance monitoring activities. These include:

  • Left to right hand drive steering conversions
  • Validity of RAWS test evidence
  • Assessment of quality management systems

When conducting audits and inspections, the department will be focusing in detail on these issues.

All other aspects of RAWS audits and inspections will be conducted in accordance with current processes.

Please ensure you familiarise yourself with your obligations and requirements relating to these topics. Further details can be obtained by contacting the department on

Reports of non-compliance and safety issues with small trailers

Over the last six months we have seen an increase in reports of compliance issues with small road trailers used for commercial purposes. These include portable kitchens (food vans) and trailers for carrying earthmoving machinery.

We would like to remind all importers and manufacturers that trailers with an aggregate trailer mass of not exceeding 4500 kg must comply with the requirements of Vehicle Standards Bulletin 1 Building Small Trailers (VSB1). Supplying trailers to the market that do not comply with VSB1 could be an offence under the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989.

Recently identified issues/areas of non-compliance include:

  • trailers not fitted with brakes (only a trailer with a single axle and a gross trailer mass not exceeding 750 kg does not require brakes)
  • trailers with incorrectly installed brakes resulting in ineffective brakes
  • food vans not meeting electrical and gas installation standards
  • drawbars not meeting strength requirements
  • drawbar safety chains not complying with Australian Standard AS 4177.4 Caravan and light trailer towing components—Part 4: Safety chains up to 3500kg capacity

Several other safety concerns have also been identified:

  • poor quality welding
  • axles installed upside-down
  • suspension insufficient for weight of trailer
  • wheel guards cutting into tyres

We encourage all importers and manufacturers to ensure that trailers are both safe and compliant with VSB1.

If you do identify any non-compliance or safety issues with trailers you manufacture or import, we encourage you to contact us to discuss how best to respond to the safety issue or non-compliance. In certain circumstances, a vehicle safety recall may be appropriate.

If you are aware of a potential non-compliance or safety issue related to a trailer manufacturer or supplier, we encourage you to report the matter through an Online Vehicle Safety or Non-Compliance Report.

You can find more information on VSB1 on our website.

Thinking about importing a moped? Be aware of import requirements

The Australian Government maintains a system that generally requires road vehicles meet national standards as set out in the Australian Design Rules (ADRs).

Fat tyred motorised mopeds and motorised mopeds with pedals are generally categorised as ‘L’ category vehicles and are therefore required to be certified and comply with all applicable ADRs before they can be supplied to the Australian market.

Even if you do not intend to use the moped on public roads, if the vehicle was designed as a road motor vehicle it will still need to comply with relevant standards.

Two new fact sheets have been developed to assist members of the public and industry to navigate their way through the required conditions of importing mopeds PDF: 215 KB ReadSpeaker and the certification and supply of vehicles PDF: 140 KB ReadSpeaker to the Australian market.

Non-road vehicles—New guidance material available

The department has updated its website to include new guidance material, including images, to assist importers when assessing whether a vehicle would be considered a non-road vehicle.

The information includes the criteria the department uses to make a determination of whether the vehicle would be considered a non-road vehicle under section 5b of the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989.

Whilst the function of providing a non-road assessment of a vehicle is not expressly set out in the legislation, the department provides this discretionary function to assist importers in facilitating the timely release of their goods on import.

Compulsory recall of Takata airbags

On 28 February 2018, the Assistant Treasurer, the Hon Michael Sukkar MP, issued a compulsory recall for all vehicles with defective Takata airbags.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is responsible for administering the compulsory recall. A copy of the notice, and further information about the compulsory recall, is available on the Product Safety Australia website.

Asbestos in vehicles

Vehicles that were not specifically manufactured for the Australian market might be considered at risk of containing asbestos. Common high risk parts and components include gaskets, brake pads, seals and clutch linings, and may be more likely to be present in older vehicles.

The importation of asbestos into Australia is prohibited. An Australia-wide ban on the manufacture and use of all types of asbestos and Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) has been in place since 31 December 2003. Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws in all states and territories prohibit the supply, transport, use, or handling of asbestos unless an exception or exemption applies.

Importers are responsible for ensuring their vehicles do not contain any asbestos before they are shipped to Australia.

Where a vehicle is deemed a risk of containing asbestos, the Australian Border Force will require assurances that high-risk parts or components do not contain asbestos. If adequate assurance is not provided, delays and additional costs may be incurred when the vehicle is held at the border for the purposes of sampling and testing.

More information can be found on the Department of Home Affairs asbestos webpage.

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