Potential fatigue risk leaves Victoria uncertain on work diary exemption

By: Brad Gardner


Victoria’s transport department is concerned a 160km work diary exemption may undermine fatigue management laws.

 

Victoria is resisting the adoption of a work diary exemption for the state’s truck drivers due to concerns it may pose a potential fatigue management risk.

VicRoads director Andrew Wall tells Owner//Driver the department is currently seeking advice from fatigue management experts about the implications of the measure, which exempts drivers from completing a work diary if they are carrying out primary production work within 160km of their base.

Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory have all adopted the measure, while Tasmania is due to implement it on March 30.

But there is no certainty it will happen in Victoria.

"While the extension of the exemption to 160km may be appropriate for jurisdictions with large remote areas, VicRoads is concerned that there may be increased risk of driver fatigue impacting on road safety," Wall says.

"VicRoads is also concerned that the proposed extension would apply to a significant sector of the road transport task which would undermine the value of the current requirements for heavy vehicle drivers to complete a work diary and that it may be interpreted as applying to a range of tasks further down the transport chain, such as the transport of grain between silos or to a port, or the transport of primary produce to a market or distribution centre."

Wall says VicRoads is working with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) to address its concerns.

Livestock and Rural Transporters Association of Victoria (LRTAV) president John Beer last week urged the Victorian Government to move into line with other jurisdictions and will press the matter again when he attends a roundtable meeting of industry and government representatives on February 19.

He says extending the exemption to 160km will make a lot of difference to transporters involved in primary production work.

"I’m at Romsey, which is approximately 50-60km out of Melbourne. We cart a lot of cattle to Shepparton to the market there. We wouldn't have to touch a book [if the 160km exemption was introduced]. We would have to keep records at home but we wouldn’t have to fill out a work diary," Beer says.

He says the 160km exemption means drivers will have one less thing to worry about when they’re behind the wheel.

"You’re all the time worried about making sure you’re up to date with your book with breaks and all that stuff, that’s all," Beer says.

"I reckon it will make it a lot easier."

All Victorian truck drivers – and those in other jurisdictions who are not eligible to claim the 160km exemption – are currently required to fill out a diary if they work 100km beyond their base. 

The Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) and its state-based associations have spent the past year trying to get the exemption introduced nationally.

The ALRTA says 160km is ideal for rural carriers because they cover a wider area than city-based drivers, congestion is lower and average speed limits are higher.

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