NZTA toughening up its enforcement regime

By: David Boyce

The NZ Transport Agency is getting tough on safety enforcement due to increasing driver offences

Last year, the NZ Transport Agency started an extensive review of compliance within the trucking industry, and the news is they are getting tough on enforcement. They are reviewing files from all regulatory areas that they are responsible for, encompassing issues from the very minor to the very serious.

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At the time of writing this article, NZTA issued the following notices to people or organisations that operate a transport business or drive a transport business vehicle: notices of revocation to 15 licence holders, immediate suspensions of 21 licence holders, warning notices to 58 licence holders, and notice of proposal to revoke or suspend a further 90 licence holders.

Your business must have a licence to operate and the individuals who drive for that business also need a licence or endorsement to legally operate.

There have been several businesses well reported in the media in recent months that have had their licence to operate revoked, forcing them to close down, severely impacting the people employed.

NZTA have been forced to take these actions because of serious concerns about safety for all road users, such as poor management of driver fatigue and behaviour, breaches of work time and rest time rules, pervasive logbook issues, speed and traffic-related offences, overloading, breach of permit restrictions, operating uncertified vehicles, road user charges offences, failure of roadside safety inspections, brake faults, damaged towing connections, tyre condition, damaged or deteriorating suspension, and non-operational lights or indicators.

Contributing driver offences have included not wearing seat belts, illegal operation of mobile phones, driving while disqualified or driving on the wrong class of licence, careless use of a motor vehicle, and dangerous driving.

Increasingly, the NZTA and CVST are using the data collected from infringements, permit breaches, roadside inspections, COFs, and driver behaviour to identify transport operators for further investigation and for targeted enforcement, which, in many cases, can result in the removal of the transport operators TSL, and the driver’s licences, without which you cannot operate a transport business.

So how do you ensure you are compliant? Listed below are some tips that will put you well on the way to be a compliant operator.


  • Keep up a preventative maintenance programme and a defect report system that proactively identifies faults and fixes them straight away.
  • If you use a commercial maintenance and inspection service offered by a third-party provider, make sure that your service provider is clear about your expectations that your vehicles will pass their COF first time, every time.
  • Get familiar with the COF inspection process and the requirements that vehicles must meet to pass a COF. Get to know the Vehicle Inspection Requirements Manual (, which tells you what requirements you must meet to pass COF.
  • Make sure you identify any faults with your vehicle and fix them before you take the vehicle in for its COF.
  • Do a walk-around inspection of your vehicle as part of your (or your driver’s) pre-trip routine, and make sure any defects are fixed before heading out on the road. Check out the NZTA guide to conducting pre-trip inspections ( and the Commercial road transport toolkit (
  • Familiarise yourself with the types of faults that may be found at roadside inspections. These are outlined in the heavy motor vehicle Categorisation of Defects handbook ( 
  • If you have any concerns with the decisions made at your roadside or COF inspection, you can discuss these with your COF provider, or local Commercial Vehicle Safety Team in the first instance, as early as possible. Don’t wait until it is too late to resolve the problem.
  • Make sure that the correct transport service licence (TSL) label is displayed in your vehicle at all times while you are operating it. Failure to display a TSL label is an offence.
  • Make sure that the correct TSL number is provided to the COF inspector, preferably by way of a TSL label displayed in your vehicle.
  • If you’re the mechanic or driver of a vehicle with a trailer attached, you must ensure you have the correct TSL number for the trailer as there is no TSL label attached to the trailer. This is particularly important when the trailer is operated under a different TSL from the prime mover, such as when a mechanic uses their own prime mover for taking a trailer for a certificate of fitness inspection.
  • Keep good records of your roadside inspection. Make sure that your drivers return their copy of the Commercial Vehicle Inspection Report (CVIR) form to you as soon as possible after a roadside inspection.


  • Make sure that your drivers are appropriately licensed and trained for the type of driving they do. Sign up to TORO, the Transport Organisation Register Online (, so you can, with your driver’s permission, receive updates whenever their licence status changes, for example, if a licence or endorsement expires, or if the licence is suspended or disqualified. Simply e-mail to sign up.
  • Put in place a safe driving policy for your business ( A safe driving policy can improve driver safety and reduce offending by addressing fatigue, distraction, speeding and drink driving, and promoting the use of safety belts and other safety features.
  • Set achievable schedules and rosters, so that your drivers can adhere to the speed limits and work time requirements. Ensure that your drivers understand the importance of sticking to the speed limit, taking the required breaks, and completing their logbooks correctly.
  • Sign up to SAFED, Safe and Fuel Efficient Driving NZ programme (, which promotes and teaches a safe and fuel-efficient driving style. The techniques learnt through SAFED NZ can improve driver safety, confidence and performance, as well as reducing fuel and maintenance costs.
  • Make sure that the correct TSL label is displayed in your vehicle at all times while you are operating it. Failure to display a TSL label is an offence and can attract a substantial fine.
  • Address offending by your drivers when you become aware of it. You can receive updates from TORO when a driver reaches either 50 or 100 demerit points, so you are aware that offending has been occurring.
  • Get a GPS based fleet tracking system installed in your vehicles. This will give you real-time vehicle and driver behaviour information. Giving you the ability to monitor and manage behaviour, significantly improving your fleet safety, health and safety and compliance outcomes.

On a final note, we’re bringing industry regulators and trucking operators face to face at the Trucking Industry Summit on 4 May in Christchurch. It’s a free event so we hope to see you there.

For more details, contact NZ Trucking Association on 0800 338 338 or

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