Readers split on the benefits of electronic work diaries


As we first reported on earlier this month, two electronic work diary options – from Step Global and Teletrac Navman – have been officially approved for use from December 1.

But judging by the early reaction to the news on our Facebook page, it may take a while yet before many of you ditch the paper option for the electronic alternatives.

For Daniel Robards, it was the written work diary all the way: “Just wait till the system crashes, it actually doesn’t long to fill in your book or check the previous day’s work.

“Seems that those who approve these things see us as idiots that can’t spell or add up basic maths. Maybe we should be given no fines for spelling errors cause it sounds more like the powers that be can’t use a log book,” he said.

Danny Lewis shared that he wasn’t too impressed by the EWDs either. “They can shove their EWDs where the sun don’t shine. Any ‘driver’ who thinks that this is a good idea needs their bloody head red,” he wrote.

William David White shared a similar sentiment, though he kept it brief. “And the start of the end begins.”

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom, with some recognising the potential benefits of an EWD and commenting in a far more positive light.

Regular Big Rigs columnist Mike Williams, who is also the host of the popular On The Road podcast, commented: “I’ve written a few bits about the EWD. I use one. It works well for me. But that’s just me! There are a range of issues here. It’s a double-edged sword. In my view drivers should applaud this change. It will signal the end of k rates, trip money and hours spent working for free.”

Matt Mclean said, “I know I’m going to cop it for my unpopular opinion, but an understood and properly used work diary is your best friend IF you’re paid correctly.”

Jason Compton added that if the EWDs are minute by minute, “well then it’s going to be a good thing.”

Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz said both Step Global and Teletrac Navman are technology partners with a number of heavy vehicle operators, which should see a broad rollout across industry.

“This approval gives the providers the green light to work with their partners to use their products as an approved fatigue management system,” said Buchholz.

“We know both technology companies have a number of transport and logistics operators ready and eager to adopt the technology and we should see a good uptake across the industry.

“I congratulate Step Global and Teletrac Navman, this is a historic moment for Australia’s heavy vehicle industry and has the potential to make the work environments of our drivers safer and improve productivity for the industry.”

NHVR chair Duncan Gay said a company’s investment in EWDs is an investment in industry safety and productivity. “Right now, industry is managing 60 million pages of work diary paper per year – this equates to 14 B-double loads of red tape,” he said.

“This announcement will enable companies and drivers to more effectively focus on managing their fatigue, rather than managing the book – which is an important step forward in delivering improved fatigue safety outcomes.

“As well as reducing time checking written work records on the side of the road, it also delivers huge cost and time savings for heavy vehicle businesses with many operators spending multiple days every week reconciling the written work book with internal systems.

“I look forward to welcoming other technology providers also submitting systems for approval.”

Early adopters of the approved EWDs, however, should be aware there are some conditions attached for the use of Step Global’s app, the Smart eDriver, and Teletrac Navman’s Sentinel device. For the Smart eDriver they include only being available for use on certain mobile phones, primarily Samsungs, while the Sentinel isn’t an option for two-up operations and the approval holder must inform all drivers using the EWD in writing that it’s currently unable to send and/or receive records from other EWDs.

“At a minimum the information must state: ‘This EWD is currently unable to receive records from other EWDs or send records to other EWDs. Drivers and record keepers must consider what impact this will have on their obligations to have a continuous 28-day record of work and rest available’,” said the NHVR.

More details for each can be found here.

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