‘The right to rest must stay with the driver’: Truckies join fatigue law debate

fatigue law debate

Our Voice of the Driver campaign to help give truckies a louder voice in revamping the Heavy Vehicle National Law has got off to a flying start.

In just a matter of days, more than 240 truckies have responded to the questions in an online survey devised by campaign partner Australian Trucking Association around proposed changes to the fatigue laws.

It takes just a few minutes to complete but could have a long-lasting impact with all the anonymous feedback used to support the ATA submission to the national truck law consultation paper.

In one survey section, we ask for your input on a proposed rule for fatigue management based on drivers, not vehicles.

Just like in WA, different fatigue rules could apply to higher fatigue risk drivers, including truck drivers who work more than 60 hours a week, more than once a week for 10+ hours, or more than once a week between midnight and 5am.

“ruck drivers and operators would have a responsibility to comply or be able to show that they are not higher fatigue risk drivers.”

Some 55% of respondents agreed with this proposal.

“Driver fatigue should be up to the driver to manage. After all we are meant to be professional drivers but we aren’t allowed to manage anything because the log book controls us and any load managers only ask what does your book say. It’s never oh no worries you have a rest break because you feel buggered and get it in safely,” writes one driver.

Adds another: “A perfect example is a driver who works express freight overnight each night. He can have the best set up at home for regular and consistent daytime sleep and he will be safer than someone who does different trips, shifts each day. Currently he is already penalised under the current rules and cannot do six nights a week, even if those nights are only 10 hour shifts. This suggestion will put the onus on him to prove he is fit and capable and unless that is a simple exercise, he will be penalised by someone else knowing whether he is fatigued or not and that is where the current rules fail and so would not be an improvement in flexibility. I have not seen anywhere in the current review that recognises a drivers good record in any way whatsoever.”

The survey also gets your feedback on the push for simplified record keeping for drivers and operators.

An easier to use work diary, or electronic work diary could be the base requirement for higher fatigue risk drivers who don’t use fatigue monitoring technology, such as Seeing Machines Guardian.

Higher fatigue risk drivers wouldn’t need to use the diary if their employer has strong, approved fatigue management systems in place.

More than 61% of you agreed.

“I agree as the work diaries simply provide a blanket rule that is not suited to all sectors of the transport industry and a custom made to fit system is a far better option as it will allow work to be carried out both more effectively and safely due to taking in all the variable that the diary doesn’t,” says one driver surveyed.

All those who take part, also have the chance to win one of five Kenworth merch packs.

Click here to join the discussion and make your voice count in the new HVNL.

Further consultation on the HVNL is open until November before the National Transport Commission finalises options in a decision regulatory impact statement it will present to the nation’s transport ministers in May 2021.

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