Victoria releases rest area strategy

Victoria commits to improving heavy vehicle rest areas under a new strategy taking a "holistic approach" to construction and location

By Ruza Zivkusic | October 29, 2010

Truck drivers travelling throughout Victoria will soon have appropriate areas to park in when they rest between their jobs.

The release of the Victorian rest area strategy plans to improve existing rest stops and promote in-town facilities across the state.

VicRoads aims to reduce fatigue-related incidents by taking "a holistic approach" to the construction and location of rest stop areas across the state.

There are currently 120 rest areas across Victoria that are suitable for heavy vehicles.

The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) has welcomed the release of the strategy, with CEO Phil Lovel saying VTA has campaigned "long and hard" for the Victorian Government for a clear strategy.

VicRoads has previously left the planning of rest areas in rural and regional towns to local councils, he adds.

"This strategy addresses this by clearly stating that VicRoads will assist local government and communities to develop plans to promote the use of in-town facilities," Lovel says.

"This should provide a bonus in the future for truck drivers, which will have a unique consistent identification system.

"A road safety and physical infrastructure audit will be undertaken on these sites and upgrades will be part of future planning," Lovel says.

Rod Hannifey, who is the Australian Trucking Association’s (ATA) owner-driver representative, is lobbying road authorities to mark informal truck rest areas with visible signs.

He has sent a letter to the Victorian Transport Minister Martin Pakula pleading for support to mark them.

The Dubbo driver of 18 years says VicRoads should consult drivers about the strategy proposals before going ahead with it.

"It’s hard to get them to understand the problems when they go home to their families when they’ve got nothing to worry about," Hannifey says.

"There are only five places between Brisbane and Melbourne where I can park within walking distance to a supermarket, otherwise you have to park five kilometres away and blokes simply don’t do that.

"Victoria has the best facility in Australia but they are designed badly and could be better; they certainly are large and have good toilets but they don’t have any shade.

"If you’re the poor bloke that has to pull up there for eight hours where every other driver pulls up for 15 minutes, you cannot get a good night’s sleep."

VicRoads will also work with the commercial centre providers to identify strategic zones for future commercial facilities, investigating the need for major rest area facilities and the segregation of separate vehicle types.

Lovel believes the strategy identifies Victoria as being the leader in planning and delivering upgrades to suitable rest areas for truck drivers.

"We are sure that by having this formal strategy in place, future bids for federal and state government funding will be underpinned by clear and agreed objectives that will strengthen the case for improved facilities," he says.

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