ALTA continues pressure over fatigue laws


Trucking group sets deadlines it wants met for fatigue management reforms

By Brad Gardner | August 24, 2010

The trucking lobby is continuing to push for improvements to fatigue management law, issuing deadlines it wants the states to meet on implementing reforms.

The National Transport Commission is due to release its long-awaited review into fatigue management this month following months of delay.

While it has been pressuring the NTC to act sooner, the Australian Livestock Transporters Association is also focusing on ensuring governments do not stall the process.

It wants any improvements to the 14-hour basic fatigue management module (BFM) introduced by July 1, 2011.

And following concerns over the inconsistent counting of driving and rest hours, the ALTA says governments must fix the problems by December 31 this year.

A truck driver of a well-known Queensland operator was hit with seven fatigue breaches earlier this year while travelling through Victoria despite complying with the law in NSW and Queensland. Both states measure work and rest in a 24-hour period, while Victoria counts work time from any 15 minute interval.

ALTA Executive Director Philip Halton says the group is making its case for change.

"Lead by National President David Smith, our network has taken part in a coordinated set of meetings and discussions with key individuals across ministerial, chief executive and officer level across every relevant jurisdiction," Halton says.

He and Smith last week met NTC CEO Nick Dimopoulos to ensure clear deadlines were made on fixing fatigue management issues.

"There are thousands of drivers on the road, every day, filling in a work diary that can see them cop ‘severe’ and ‘critical’ fatigue breaches due to the counting time catastrophe. Only a result on the road will satisfy them," Halton says.

The ALTA is also calling for an animal welfare provision for livestock drivers to be slotted into fatigue laws.

The former NSW roads minister, Michael Daley, in 2009 requested the NTC to look at work and rest periods under the BFM module which limits drivers to 14-hour workdays and prescribed rest breaks.

Daley at the time stated governments needed to do more to encourage the industry to gain BFM accreditation.

"Some trucking companies may have lost flexibility under the scheme, and this might encourage them to stick with the traditional approach of relying on a driver filling in a record of how much driving he has done," Daley said at the time.

The NTC was asked to look at striking a balance between safety and ensuring operators can comply with their obligations under fatigue management.

The ALTA is looking for changes to restrictions on driving hours and night rests to help country operators and for the work diary and counting provisions to be simplified.

Representatives from the trucking industry met the NTC earlier this year to discuss inconsistent counting rules. The NTC agreed to look at the issue and says it shares the industry's request for consistent regulations.

Related stories:
States under fire over fatigue counting rules
ALTA unhappy over stalled fatigue review
NTC promises fatigue review this month


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