NTC will look at streamlining fatigue reforms

NTC will look at ways to fast-track changes to fatigue management law to resolve cross-border inconsistencies

By Brad Gardner | October 6, 2010

The National Transport Commission will look at ways to fast-track changes to fatigue management law to resolve cross-border inconsistencies plaguing trucking operators.

In an information bulletin released today, the NTC says it is aware of the industry’s desire for consistency after a truck driver was caught breaching fatigue management obligations in Victoria despite being compliant in NSW and Queensland.

Victoria counts work and rest time differently to Queensland and NSW.

The NTC expects to receive feedback from fatigue experts this month on whether any legislative changes will compromise driver and community safety.

"The NTC understands that counting time is a critical issue for industry and will endeavour to streamline the maintenance process, including investigating whether changes can be exempted from the Regulatory Impact Assessment requirements," the bulletin says.

Once the experts have had their say, the NTC will take the industry’s concerns to a panel made up of state and territory government representatives.

"Called the Fatigue Maintenance Group, the group draws on government, industry and expert advice to consider changes to legislation that has been in operation for a year of more to improve its effectiveness," the NTC says.

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) approached the NTC earlier this year about the way hours and rest are counted.

The Executive Director of the Australian Livestock Transporters Association (ALTA), Philip Halton, says Queensland and NSW measure a 24 period from the end of a major rest break.

In Victoria, however, officers only look at rest time in the 24-period from the last major rest break.

Halton says officers count work time from any 15 minute interval they choose, potentially exposing drivers to a litany of breaches.

"The NTC has been working closely with the ATA to brief the experts and ensure they understand industry concerns about counting time," the NTC says.

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