Fatigue management, News

Extend fatigue laws to cover smaller trucks, says ATA

fatigue laws

The fatigue laws should be extended to cover trucks weighing between 4.5 and 12 tonnes, the Australian Trucking Asssociation (ATA) said in its submission to the National Transport Commission (NTC) on the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) reforms.

At present, the drivers and operators of vehicles weighing between 4.5 tonnes and 12 tonnes are subject to the safety duties in the HVNL but have no work and rest hour or record keeping obligations.

ATA chair David Smith said the extension would improve safety for the drivers of these trucks and everyone else using the road.

“When the fatigue laws were developed, it was decided to exclude the drivers of smaller trucks. It was assumed that long working hours and fatigue were less of a problem for these drivers,” Smith said.

“This assumption was wrong. More drivers of vehicles weighing less than 12 tonnes doing local work report fatigue as a substantial or major problem than drivers of long distance heavy vehicles.

“As a result, there is a strong case for extending fatigue regulation to cover all trucks.

“Local drivers would need to comply with the work and rest hour rules but would not need to fill in a work diary. Their record keeper or business would need to keep the same local work records that are required now.

Smith said this approach would deliver increased safety at the lowest cost of all the options that the NTC considered.

“It would reflect the reality that local work involves regular changes in activity and as a result carries a lower fatigue risk,” he said.

Meanwhile, the NTC has launched a short industry survey to help it work through the costs and benefits of the options in its HVNL review consultation statement.

They survey seeks your insights on questions like—

•    how long it takes a driver to fill in a written work diary
•    the benefits of extending the truck length limit from 19 to 20 metres
•    the benefits of increasing the height of trucks from 4.3 to 4.6 metres.

The survey will be open until January 31, 2024. To have your say, click here.

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