Fatigue flexibility a must during floods: NatRoad

Trucking industry calls for consideration from authorities on fatigue management laws due to floods in northern NSW and Queensland

By Brad Gardner | January 17, 2011

The trucking industry is calling for consideration from road authorities on fatigue management laws due to crippling floods in northern NSW and Queensland.

Rising waters are causing havoc on the road network, with emergency crews forced to close key freight routes and detour vehicles.

Under fatigue management laws drivers must rest at required intervals. They are also restricted to 12-hour workdays, and 14 hours if they are accredited in basic fatigue management (BFM).

"Drivers must be afforded some level of flexibility to ensure that scheduled rest breaks do not prevent freight movements when opportunities to move through flood affected areas are limited," NatRoad President Rob McIntosh says.

"Statutory fatigue management systems are designed for otherwise unimpeded driving conditions and can further compound freight delays during the unusual conditions currently affecting road transport operators."

NatRoad cites an example from the UK where drivers were given an extra hour per day during snowstorms. Gavin Klingner from NatRoad says drivers should be treated on a case-by-case basis at flood-prone areas.

He has praised the efforts of NSW Police and the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA), saying there are instances where the agencies have shown understanding and respect toward drivers affected by the floods and have helped them get moving as soon as possible.

NatRoad is also planning to contact the NSW Government and the Opposition requesting the transport industry is included in emergency response teams.

"Trucks are needed but there is no strategy that involves trucks," he says.

"The transport industry needs to be represented in some way."

In Queensland the Bligh Government has invited the Queensland Trucking Association (QTA) to take part in its Flood Recovery Taskforce.

QTA CEO Peter Garske will represent the trucking industry and will be responsible for providing advice on road repairs and freight priorities.

The Queensland Government has declared 75 percent of the state a disaster zone due to flooding, while entire towns in northern NSW have been evacuated.

Major routes such as the Pacific, Bruce and New England highways have been closed in some sections, with some towns isolated from flooding.

Jill Lewis from the NSW branch of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA NSW) says many operators are likely to suffer financially from the floods.

"With such devastation that we’ve had, I don’t think anyone won’t be affected. Unfortunately this could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. I certainly hope it isn’t," Lewis says.

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