Bus safety in hazardous areas

A Hazardous Area Authority is required for drivers of vehicles that have 13 or more seats (including the driver) and who wish to drive in proclaimed 'hazardous areas' for the Victorian Alpine region during the snow season.

There are two types of Hazardous Area Authority permits: Mt Hotham, and defined areas other than Mt Hotham - this allows the holder to drive in any proclaimed hazardous area except Mt Hotham.

VicRoads provides information about driver requirements for hazardous areas.

Bus Safety Victoria (BSV) suggests you make note of all of the information provided by VicRoads and in particular that your bus has:

  1. A full dual circuit service braking system
  2. Adequate demisting and saloon heating systems
  3. A spare wheel, jack and wheel brace
  4. Wheel chains of a design approved by VicRoads. The chains must be in good condition (Manufacturers’ recommendations should be followed) and capable of being attached to the outer drive wheels of the vehicle. (Approved wheel chains are diamond pattern or similar design. Ladder design chains are not permitted)
  5. Wheel chocks
  6. A torch or portable lead light
  7. A shovel.

It is recommended that all buses entering Hazardous Areas should also:

  • Carry at least 20 litres of appropriate size grit to assist traction if required
  • Be fitted with open tread pattern tyres in roadworthy condition.

Hazardous area bus safety audits

The audit program conducts audits of operators that provide contracted services to Mt Buller, Hotham and Falls Creek.

The audits focus on how the operators are managing the risks of operating in these areas.

During the audit the operator will be assessed on the following:

  • Meeting your regulatory compliance
  • Your ability to manage safety risks
  • Your organisation’s safety culture.

In particular we will be checking records relating to:

  • Emergency management
  • Alcohol and drug management
  • Incident notification
  • Driver records and training (particularly what additional training alpine drivers undertake)
  • Risk management (relating to how operators manage the risks of operating in alpine areas)
  • Annual bus safety inspections
  • Vehicle safety inspections
  • Pre-trip inspections
  • Defect management.

Hazardous area compliance checks

BSV compliance officers are involved in a number of operations in the hazardous areas from June to October each year. These operations are often multi-agency and involve working with VicRoads and the Victoria Police Heavy Vehicles Unit.

Our compliance officers are authorised to check your bus to make sure it is being operated safely. Normally these checks take around 10 minutes to complete.

What do we look for?

A standard check, that can happen on any road in Victoria, includes checking:

  • Driver accreditation
  • Correct permissioning for the vehicle (registered or accredited)
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Seatbelts
  • Windscreen wiper action
  • Roadworthy condition of tyres
  • Trailer wear and tear (and roadworthiness of trailer tyres)
  • National driver work diary
  • Lights
  • Emergency hammers
  • Roadside assessment of suspension and steering.

In hazardous areas we will also check:

  • If you have correct wheel chains, and if in use, that they are fitted correctly
  • If the demisters are working correctly
  • That you have wheel chocks, a working torch and a shovel.

Broken tyre chain