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Truckies’ group lobbies the NTC for law changes

A peak lobby group for truckies is grateful for the chance to speak face-to-face with the National Transport Commission (NTC) about some of the driver-related issues it wants addressed in the heavy vehicle national law (HVNL) overhaul.

National Road Freighters Association (NRFA) vice president Trevor Warner tells Big Rigs that he was able to discuss a range of concerns he said are currently thwarting the transport industry.

“We’re receiving a steady stream of complaints [from drivers] about petty, non-safety related infringement notices,” explained Warner.

“No other industry, or even the police are subject to these infringements. If they (the police) make a mistake on a traffic infringement, they just cancel it and re-write it. I spoke to one driver who was distracted and didn’t sign his page and got a $360 fine.”

Warner said that by the NTC’s own definition, a minor offence is an offence that poses no risk to public safety or infrastructure. 

“All we’re asking for is that minor offences that are not risk-related be removed from the legislation,” he added.

“The feedback we received from the NTC was that whatever is decided, they need to sell the idea to the states. But if you go to the state transport ministers, they say they can’t do anything because it’s the NTC’s decision. They want to keep the argument on a merry-go-round where nobody has to be accountable for the laws that they enforce.”

Other subjects up for discussion over two meetings were the negative impact of fatigue laws on drivers, why split rest break laws still demand a penalty and the chain of responsibility not currently being shared between drivers and their management.

“There needs to be a greater motivation for operators to move into Basic Fatigue Management (BFM) and we proposed more flexibility on rule 255 (split rest breaks for fatigue-accredited truck drivers),” said Warner.

“We also proposed an extension of 12 hours on our fortnightly working hours.

“Quite often drivers – particularly ones from North Queensland – will go to Adelaide or Melbourne and need to have a day of on the road and find themselves running out of hours before they even get home. So, they potentially require a second day off just two hours away from their home base.

“The split rest break currently sits at six hours and two hours. That suits some but not everybody, so we’ve asked for the split to be divided as the driver requires as long as it adds up to eight hours during a 24-hour period.”

The NRFA also reiterated the need for better planning in relation to city rest areas in line with the National Rest Area Strategy, which Warner is working on in conjunction with Road Freight NSW CEO Simon O’Hara.

“We’ve got a massive infrastructure plan going on at Badgerys Creek, NSW at the moment and from what we have seen there hasn’t been any consideration for parking for heavy vehicles. That’s a town planning problem that needs to be addressed in regional and city areas,” said Warner.

Aaron de Rozario, the NTC’s executive leader, regulatory reform, said the commission is continuing to meet and engage with industry as it progresses the HVNL Safety and Productivity Program. 

“The NTC recently met with the National Road Freighters Association and had a positive discussion on a range of matters,” confirmed de Rozario. 

“We’ll continue to meet and talk with them, as well as other stakeholders, as we progress this work.”

More information and updates about the HVNL can be found at ntc.gov.au/transport-reform/HVNL-review.

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