We've had enough: drivers quit over fatigue burden

Good drivers are quitting the industry, fed up with strict on-road enforcement and increasing compliance

We've had enough: drivers quit over fatigue burden
We’ve had enough: drivers quit over fatigue burden
By Brad Gardner | September 9, 2009

Trucking companies are facing an exodus of good drivers because of strict on-road enforcement policies and increasing compliance burden.

Industry veterans and promising newcomers are questioning their future in the industry, as penalties for work diary offences hit hard and drivers struggle to understand their obligations.

New South Wales-based Ross Transport may lose two of its best drivers, aged 67, because they cannot comprehend fatigue management

The 40-truck company invests heavily in training and accreditation but the changes have been too much for some drivers.

"I’ve lost probably eight good drivers since this stuff has come through," owner Alan Ross says.

A NSW livestock operator tells ATN they have already lost one driver because of a work diary breach, while another two may follow.

The driver chose to walk away from the industry after a penalty of four demerit points led to him losing his licence.

"He said, ‘I can’t just can’t put up with this anymore’," the owner, who wished to remain annoymous, says.

"A couple of blokes who still have all of their points have come to me and said: ‘We’re not going to lose our licence because of this job’."

The company operates a handful of trucks and may be forced out of business if drivers leave.

The operator says the two young employees are irreplaceable due to their work ethic and responsible approach to driving, describing one as "a crackerjack".

Ross questions what impact the level of dissatisfaction over regulations will have if talented drivers continue to leave.

"There is going to be more and more accidents because we are losing all of our good drivers," Ross says.

Ross is also fed up with regulations that duplicate existing provisions, such as the Mutual Responsibility for Road Safety (State) Award.

Like fatigue management, the Award — which is responsible for the controversial Bluecard — requires companies to develop driving plans, use work diaries and address fatigue.

Even though his company already meets fatigue management requirements, Ross says he has spent about $20,000 to comply with the Award.

The issue has also angered drivers, with Ross saying many feel their time is being wasted because they have already been taught about driving plans, fatigue and work diaries.

"It is all we ever do. I don’t have profits anymore because I have spent all of my money on compliance," Ross says.

"I love my industry but I’m watching it go down the chute."

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