High Occupancy Vehicles (HOVs) are on-road vehicles that carry 9-30 passengers. Common types of HOVs include passenger vans, mini-buses, and tour buses. HOVs operate across Australia in various terrain and organisational settings, with Local Governments collectively managing a significant fleet of HOVs used widely in the community.
While HOVs are often anecdotally considered a safe form of transport, organisations across Australia are increasingly recognising the inherent risks involved in HOV fleets. Firstly, HOVs also tend to be older vehicles with fewer safety technologies, with approximately 20% of HOVs managed by Local Governments aged 10+ years old. Most of these vehicles have not been assessed under the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) or the Used Car Safety Ratings (UCSR). Furthermore, the likelihood of a rollover is significantly higher for HOVs due to their heavy weight and high centre of gravity. HOV passengers are three times more likely to die in a rollover crash than light vehicle passengers.
This document outlines minimum requirements for the safe use of High Occupancy Vehicles (for drivers and passengers). Its purpose is to prevent injuries and fatalities related to use of High Occupancy Vehicles, whether it be during internal use, when leasing vehicles for commercial/ private use, or when subcontracting drivers/volunteers to drive/use High Occupancy Vehicles which are managed by the Local Government. Requirements for maintaining High Occupancy Vehicles and managing the safety risks associated with mass passenger transport (road) are outlined herein.
This model policy should be used as a template for best practice at the time of development and considered alongside other standards and policies defined by the Local Government. This policy does not override legislation.