“They made some changes about how to interpret the brake rule that were poor changes that led to all of the confusion,” the association president David Crawford said.
This was exacerbated by certifiers’ growing alarm at Transport Agency (Waka Kotahi) audits they saw as designed to catch them out, which they protested to the Government about.
Crawford said Waka Kotahi’s consultation before it brought the changes in was poor.
“For some reason we were left off the list.”
Waka Kotahi has now revised its technical bulletin to mostly reverse the April changes, but has yet to incorporate that into the vehicle manual that is the industry ‘bible’.
The agency told RNZ it was working with industry to ensure standards can be followed “clearly and correctly”.
“We are close to finalising decisions” about the brake guidelines, it said.
The disruption showed up a loss of institutional knowledge within NZTA, which led to its staff misunderstanding how certifiers would interpret its brake rule guidelines, Crawford said.
Certifiers complained in their 18-page complaint in February that the agency lacked technical nous and its staff dealing with heavy vehicles are often under-qualified, under-trained and over-zealous.
Documents obtained by RNZ show truckers warned the agency about “a massive can of worms” being opened by the change.
These also reveal confusion within the agency itself.
They show truckers were encountering certifiers wanting to pull functioning brake systems apart on trucks modified since 2008 to actually carry less – not more – load, to satisfy the new brake rule guidelines.
At one point in late May, NZTA told truckers it never meant this to happen and would reverse this impact “very shortly” – though a week later that reversal had not taken place.