Five new truck-only rest areas will be built in Tasmania within a year ,with another 14 informal sites to be brought up to better standards than they are now.
All 19 will be Government funded and are part of a list supplied to the State Government by the Rest Area Reference Group which was formed in 2018.
Two of the new rest areas will be along the northern Bass Highway, two beside the Midlands or Heritage Highway running between Launceston and Hobart, and the other in the Brighton transport hub area in the south.
Tasmanian Minister for Infrastructure Michael Ferguson announced that ‘The Tasmanian Heavy Vehicle Driver Rest Areas Project Report’ was completed by the Tasmanian Transport Association, using state government funding.
Ferguson said that the state government would support the Rest Area Reference Group by announcing that $5 million would be spent for five new rest area with work to be completed by the end of 2021.
That follows two years of hard work and assessment by the 12-member Rest Area Reference Group under the direction of well-known road transport identity John DeBruyn and Michelle Harwood, the Executive Director of the Tasmanian Transport Association.
Six members of the Reference Group are either current or former truck drivers.
One of these members is Selwyn Sinfield, 77, who has been driving trucks in Tasmania for more than five decades.
“Importantly these will be trucks only rest areas and the money will be spent on rest areas only and not roadworks, Sinfield told Big Rigs.
“The Government has also committed to working with our Group to prioritize another 14 sites which has been put forward for attention. Planning on what will be done with these 14 sites will commence in the New Year. Our Group had nominated 40 sites for consideration, all needing minor to major work to bring them up to standard.
Sinfield said Minister Ferguson will be authorising signage for the new sites indicating they are for heavy vehicles only.
“The Minister said this was following the decision by the Queensland Government which recently announced cars and vans will not be allowed at some trucks only rests area to give them plenty of parking space,” Sinfield said.
Sinfield was delighted that the Government would work and liaise with businesses such as roadhouses to ensure their facilities for truck drivers also conformed with their needs and requirements.
“The Government believes that working with businesses will result in a better working environment for drivers,” he said.
Sinfield said the drivers who are Reference Group members represented a cross section of the road transport industry who have provide great input.
“The six drivers represented general, frozen and chilled freight, fuel cartage, stock, logging, heavy machinery and milk haulage. This gave us a good cross reference of industries within transport which allowed good discussion on points of debate, allowing resolutions of some difficult issues. This was also supported by management members from the TWU, NHVR and the Transport Insurance Industry,” he said.
Sinfield said the group would continue to work through any problem which may arise now that there was a commitment from State Growth, which oversees infrastructure.
“I would like to thank every group member for their dedication and commitment to this project. Also to Minister Ferguson for being able to educate himself on most things transport then bringing himself to back our cause for these rests area for truck drivers,” he said.
Sinfield also thanked Liberal Member for Braddon and Deputy Premier Jeremy Rockliff who kicked this off with a $22,000 donation for the project.
“After our independent approaches to Jeremy we joined forces to make a better combined contribution as one.
“The money was used for meeting room costs and the measuring of all informal sites across the State and then entering them into a database with GPS position documented. Tasmania had no rest area to Austroads standard when we started.
“Our vision was to have something better than we had when we started and we are grateful to have made this progress.”
The TTA believes the provision of appropriate rest areas on key Tasmanian freight routes will not only improve the health, wellbeing and fatigue management of drivers and road user safety, but in the long term will support industry recruitment and driver retention by ensuring a safe working environment.