It seems that no place is sacred for drivers when it comes to having an undisturbed rest break when they need one.
Interstate driver Rob Nepia snapped off the picture above of NHVR compliance officers allegedly checking logbooks at BP Eastern Creek in Sydney this week.
Nepia said it’s becoming an all-too-familiar occurrence for drivers along the Hume Highway but has rarely seen the regulator disturb the parked trucks at this popular rest area alongside the M7 motorway, approximately 40km west of the Sydney CBD.
“What they usually do [along the Hume] is that they have an escort car and one will sit maybe 2km up the road and he will tell his mate up front and that truck will get pulled into a rest stop – it’s just ludicrous,” Nepia said.
“Obviously they have a job to do but to do stuff like that or hiding away in a rest area waiting for someone to have their break is not right.
“To pull a person in like that, 90 per cent of the time they are looking for spelling errors; a clerical error in our logbooks that we made two weeks ago that is apparently going to affect our safety today.
“Ninety-nine per cent of the trucks on the road are legal. To be at the BP Eastern Creek when we’re trying to have our break, they’re looking for clerical errors, and I don’t know how me putting the wrong date down two weeks ago is actually going to affect my fatigue today, but I’m going to get stung for it big time.”
Nepia said he’s not speaking from his pocket – he’s avoided being on the wrong end of an intercept so far – but he has to stay on his toes, even to the extent of pulling over before he arrives at a weighbridge to “cross the t’s and dot the i’s” on his paperwork.
He said the BP at Glenrowan is also another popular rest area for officers to check work diaries.
“It really sucks for the owners of the BPs because it deters us from going there,” Nepia said.
“It’s not because we’ve got something to hide. When we get pulled in, that’s still classed as work. We can’t put that down as a rest. That’s extra time we have to take on our break because that’s legally classed as work.
“That 15-minute break has now turned into a three-quarters-of-an hour break. I thought that’s why they had weighbridges and checking sites for that.”
Nepia said he’s got no problem about getting a warning for making an error in the work diary, but to get fined for something as trivial as a clerical mistake is not fair on the driver.
“To me breaching a logbook is a no-go, you don’t do it, but we are human, we do make mistakes and I do learn from my mistakes.”
Big Rigs has approached the NHVR for comment.
Update – Tuesday (November 7), 4.45pm
NHVR director of operations for the central region, Brett Patterson, said the recent checks at BP Eastern Creek were carried out after receiving a fatigue alert.
“For the safety of everyone, the truck was intercepted on the road and then directed to pull into the BP service station, which was a safe location to conduct the compliance check,” Patterson said.
“This proactive measure is part of our commitment to road safety, and we took care to conduct these checks without disrupting other drivers. No sirens were utilised, and we took great care to avoid any adverse noises.
“They did not wake drivers to conduct compliance checks and they did not intercept any vehicles within the service station, highlighting our officers’ efforts to be as minimally invasive as possible.”
Patterson said a critical fatigue breach and a vehicle defect were identified during this specific check.
“We strive to balance the enforcement of safety regulations with the utmost respect for drivers’ rest periods and will continue to seek the safest and least intrusive means to perform these essential safety checks.”