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Note: Please be aware that the ORS is currently undergoing a review. The Transport Agency is advising operators and customers that they should no longer rely on ORS as an accurate measure of safety and compliance.

On this page:


About the Operator Rating System (ORS)

  • Why do we need an ORS?

    The commercial road transport sector is very competitive. Non-compliant operators can undermine regulatory and safety performance when they are making decisions about maximising loads, delivery deadlines and maintenance costs. Without effective enforcement, those who operate within the law face unfair economic pressure from operators who do not comply.

    It is one of the tools that the NZ Transport Agency and the New Zealand Police use to identify potentially higher-risk operators for further investigation and assistance to improve their safety practices, and for auditing and targeting purposes.

    The ORS encourages a level playing field for operators by improving their regulatory compliance and safety record. It encourages poor operators to lift their performance and provides better operators with the opportunity to market their good business practices and safety record.

    For more information, read Benefits of the ORS

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  • How much has the ORS cost?

    How much has the ORS cost?

    The ORS is estimated to reduce the social costs of at-fault heavy vehicle crashes by about six percent per year by 2021 (as identified in Safer Journeys – the government's strategy for road safety, 2010–2020).

    Read Safer Journeys(external link)

    The system has cost $5.3 million to develop. These costs are directly attributed to establishing the ORS system to produce the ratings, so these costs depreciate each year.

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ORS ratings

  • Who gets rated?

    You are rated on your compliance with safety-based legislation if you have at least one certificate of fitness (CoF) in a 24-month rating period and are a:

    • goods service licence holder with a vehicle of 6000kg or over
    • vehicle recovery service operator
    • passenger service licence holder with a motor vehicle with more than 12 seats or a heavy motor vehicle with more than nine seats.

    For more information, read What is the ORS?

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  • What do the ratings look like?

    The ratings are similar to hotel or restaurant ratings, with stars being allocated based on performance.

    RatingDefinitionOverall score range
    5 Very good level of compliance 0–0.4999
    4 Good level of compliance 0.5000–2.1041
    3 Unsatisfactory level of compliance 2.1042–3.7082
    2 Very unsatisfactory level of compliance 3.7083–5.3124
    1 Extremely unsatisfactory level of compliance 5.3125 or higher
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  • Why aren’t crashes included in the rating?

    When a crash occurs, the police will attend, and after assessing the scene and talking to witnesses they will record details of how they believe the crash occurred, including assigning fault for the crash. However, at this stage fault or guilt has not been attributed through the justice process, and it's unfair to use this in the rating.

    If a driver or operator's actions are believed to have caused a crash, an offence notice will be issued and the driver or operator can then defend the charge in court. If the outcome is that the driver or operator is found guilty, this will be included in the rating and reflect their liability for the crash.

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  • How are the ratings going to be used?

    The ratings are being used by the Transport Agency and the NZ Police as one of the tools to identify potentially higher-risk operators for further investigation and assistance to improve their safety practices.

    We still work with high-performing operators to ensure they are remaining compliant, but they are likely to receive less attention.

    Operators can use the rating information to see where they need to improve their performance and increase their driving safety and/or vehicle maintenance. They can also publicise their ratings and use it in marketing to promote themselves as safe operators.

    When it comes to work on New Zealand's state highways, the Transport Agency now is requiring its contractors to have a certain minimum standard ORS rating. We are also encouraging other government agencies and councils to do the same. Other organisations such as finance and insurance companies have indicated that, over time, they will be interested in an operator's rating when it comes to setting fees and levies.

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  • When did the system come into effect?

    The Transport Agency has been collating data since July 2010 and have released provisional ratings on a six-monthly basis ever since. Once the Land Transport Rule Operator Safety Rating 2008 is gazetted, ratings will be based on 24 months of data and will be revised every six months.

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  • Why are my ratings affected by the behaviour of my drivers?

    Ensuring businesses take responsibility for their employees is an important aspect of creating a workplace safety culture. The people who own and manage businesses have a lot of influence over the workplace culture and the behaviour of their staff. Under the ORS there is an expectation that operators will encourage safe driving, and not facilitate or tolerate driver offending, and this will be reflected through their rating.

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  • Why has my rating gone down?

    An operator's rating may go down for a number of reasons. One of the vehicles linked to your transport service licence could have had a failed CoF, a fault may have been found during a roadside inspection, or one of your drivers may have had an offence or infringement. If you would like to discuss your rating and why it may have gone down, please contact your local Transport Agency office and talk to one of our transport officers.

    Find a Transport Agency regional office

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  • Why are my vehicles stopped by the roadside all the time but other operators aren't stopped at all?

    The NZ Police Commercial Vehicle Investigation Unit (CVIU), in conjunction with Transport Agency staff, runs roadside stops throughout New Zealand. These are held anywhere, anytime. As a result, some operators may find themselves stopped at the roadside more often than others. Roadside stop locations and times can be and will be varied, so those operators that have not been stopped may find themselves being stopped in the future. Information provided by the ORS system will enable a balance between targeted stops and a fair cross-section of random roadside stops.

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ORS rating publication

  • Why has publication of ORS ratings been delayed?

    The Transport Agency originally intended to publish ORS ratings in 2012. In early 2012 the Transport Agency decided to take more time to refine the ORS to ensure its benefits were maximised. This decision was made in consultation with the industry (including the Ministry of Transport, the New Zealand Police, the Bus and Coach Association, and the Road Transport Forum).

    More recently, the Transport Agency has decided not to develop a website for the sole purpose of publishing ORS ratings. The ORS is being used to assess how the entire sector is performing, not just operators, so the decision has been to consider publishing in the wider context of giving best effect for the whole sector.

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Rating errors and omissions

Safety-related events

  • My vehicle has only recently passed a CoF check, but I've just had a roadside inspection that's failed my brakes. Why do the brake test machines give different results?

    The testing, protocols and safety requirements of vehicles and their components at both CoF and roadside inspection are the same, but it's important to note that the testing environment is different. Vehicles must be safe for both environments.

    In the testing station a vehicle undergoes its inspection in a controlled environment where, for example, the load for brake testing is pre-determined and known. On the road, the vehicle may have a different load for each trip and can fail a roadside brake test if the brakes are not working effectively with the particular load being carried. Other factors can also influence the outcome of roadside testing, including the environment (eg if it's wet, hot or dusty) and nature of previous work (eg, city or long haul). A well-serviced vehicle will continue to pass in all environments.

    The Transport Agency has developed two brake test information sheets that may assist you and/or your service provider in maintaining your vehicle's brakes.

    Read How to reduce the occurrences of brake failure during roller brake testing [PDF, 672 KB] 
    Find out about the differences between brake test environments and how these may impact on a brake test result [PDF, 1.1 MB]

    I’m renting a heavy vehicle, but the vehicle’s owner is managing the maintenance and servicing of the vehicle. Whose TSL should be used for events relating to this vehicle?

    As the operator using this vehicle on a day-to-day basis, ultimately you are responsible for maintenance of the vehicle, regardless of whether it is rented or not. The onus is on you, the operator, to make sure the vehicle is roadworthy at all times. Because of this, your TSL should be used for events relating to this vehicle. This also ensures the number of vehicle kilometres travelled can be attributed to your TSL, so weights of events against your TSL can be correctly calculated.

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  • How does the transport agency calculate how many kilometres my vehicle has travelled in a year – ie, vehicle kilometres travelled (VKT)?

    The Transport Agency calculates VKT to use when it comes to weighting an operator's offences. This is to account for the amount of time each vehicle in a fleet spends on the road and therefore the risk of an operator's drivers committing an offence.

    VKT is collected from a vehicle's hubodometer reading recorded at CoF inspections during the rating period, including the most recent CoF before the start of the period. From this information, the average monthly road usage between CoF inspections is calculated for each prime mover vehicle in an operator's fleet. These are then added together to give the operator's total VKT for the month. A VKT value is calculated for every month in the rating period.

    It is worth noting that the ORS algorithm includes any vehicle operating with the operator's TSL – they do not necessarily need to own it (just be responsible for operating it).

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The ORS and the Fleet Safety Programme

  • How does the ORS fit with the Fleet Safety Programme?

    The ORS is a system for heavy vehicle operators that aims to improve the safety of heavy vehicles on our roads. It works by encouraging transport operators to make their vehicles and driving practices as safe as possible and provides incentives to operators to comply with their regulatory obligations that contribute to safety.

    The ORS specifically covers goods service licence holders with a vehicle of 6000kg or over, vehicle recovery service operators, and passenger service licence holders with a motor vehicle with more than 12 seats or a heavy motor vehicle with more than nine seats. It provides heavy vehicle operators with a rating based on how they've been assessed in safety-related events, such as CoFs, roadside inspections and relevant traffic offences.

    The Fleet Safety Programme is a voluntary programme for all employers who manage a fleet of five or more vehicles, regardless of the size of the vehicles. It identifies businesses with a high on-road health and safety risk (based on offence and infringement information) and then works with employers and fleet managers to reduce that risk, including providing advice and ideas from local teams from the four partner agencies.

    Visit the Fleet Safety programme website(external link)

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  • Aren’t the ORS and Fleet Safety Programme measuring the same things?

    No. While both the ORS and the Fleet Safety Programme use offence data, this data is used in different ways.

    Where an employer is signed up to the Fleet Safety Programme, all offences and infringements committed by drivers in vehicles registered to that company are considered. This includes offences and infringements that are still pending. In signing up for the programme, employers must confirm that they have the permission of their drivers to receive their offence or infringement data.

    The ORS only takes offence information where a driver has admitted guilt or been found guilty, and not crashes or incidents that are still pending, as fault has not yet been decided by the justice system. The ORS also uses the results from certificate of fitness and roadside inspections.

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