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The chain of responsibility is a legal principle used in Australian heavy vehicle laws to put obligations for safety on all parties in the transport supply chain. The chain of responsibility concept currently applies to speeding, fatigue and mass and loading heavy vehicle regulations.

The chain of responsibility principle was developed in recognition that truck driver on road behaviour is influenced, created and controlled by actions of other parties. The chain of responsibility laws mean that the other parties cannot encourage, create an incentive for, demand or allow drivers to undertake those actions. They can be held liable for the drivers actions if it can be shown that they breached their obligations.

For example: if a truck driver pulls in to a depot and is over his log book hours, but his boss tells him to 'push on' because they need to make the delivery. That boss can be held liable for the driver driving in breach of his log book hours under the fatigue laws.

Chain of responsibility has had an important impact in the transport industry by ensuring that all parties are aware of and understand how their actions effect driver behaviour.

In France in the 1990s, a shipper who ordered a truck driver to observe an unrealistic schedule was jailed for manslaughter. Also in France, Maurice Papon was found to have been part of the chain of responsibility for the Vichy Government deportation of French Jews.

In the United States a court examined the chain of responsibility and found McDonald's to be liable for a customer who was scalded when she spilled coffee in her lap. Cups now bear the warning imprimateur Caution. Contents may be hot.

In Israel the Winograd Commission into the Second Lebanon War considered the chain of responsibility in looking at Ministerial Accountability: In a case where a minister acts according to an opinion that is based on unreliable information, personal responsibility extends to accountability. Accountability, on the other hand, can turn into personal responsibility when failure at lower levels is the result of a lack of proper supervision on the part of higher echelons. Therefore, the existence of a hierarchy of authority creates a chain of responsibility; and in case of a failure, the responsibility passes from lower echelons to higher ones.

See also

External links The National Transport Commission



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