NTC eyes March deadline to fix fatigue failure

Recommendations to resolve inconsistent time counting rules under fatigue management will be released next month, NTC says

By Brad Gardner | February 25, 2011

Recommendations to resolve inconsistent time counting rules under fatigue management laws will be released next month, almost one year after the issue was raised.

After realising in April last year that truck drivers were being unfairly penalised due to jurisdictional differences, the National Transport Commission (NTC) says its plan to fix the problem will be made public in March.

Drivers from Queensland and NSW currently risk being penalised when entering Victoria or South Australia because both states count work time differently to NSW and Queensland.

"This difference can impact the enforceability of the work and rest hours and cause confusion among drivers, schedulers and others in the industry," the NTC says.

It says there have been a number of drivers who thought they were complying with their responsibilities only to be penalised by Victorian authorities.

"It is imperative that this issue is addressed and counting time enforcement is consistent across all states that have implemented the laws," the NTC says.

A truck driver who met his fatigue obligations while travelling through Queensland and NSW was hit with seven breaches when he entered Victoria early last year.

The matter prompted the Australian Trucking Association to ask the NTC to urgently resolve the inconsistency.

The matter was referred to the NTC’s fatigue management group, which is made up of government and industry representatives.

"Due to the complexity of the issue, the group requested that the NTC develop a policy position on counting time and refer it to the Australian Transport Council for approval," the NTC says.

"As the final stage in this process, the NTC will bring the fatigue experts and a small cross-section of industry representatives together to consider options for resolving the issue. This will ensure the recommended solution will be safe, as well as practical."

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