Logbook cheating widespread, COR investigator says

By: Steve Skinner

Many drivers do not record in their work diaries the time spent loading and unloading.

Logbook cheating widespread, COR investigator says
"Absolutely massive": Scott Douglas says the practice of drivers not recording non-driving work in their logbooks is widespread.


The outgoing head of the VicRoads chain of responsibility investigation team says non-driving work not recorded in the logbook is an "absolutely massive" issue.

Scott Douglas rates non-driving work as a bigger fatigue problem than actual driving.

He joins many road safety experts in rating fatigue as the biggest danger in trucking.

This is not just on the basis of Victoria Police estimates that one in three fatal truck crashes involves fatigue.

It’s what drivers have told him over the years.

Owner//Driver spoke to Douglas recently during his last week on the job after a VicRoads restructure led to the downsizing of the COR unit.

"We get calls saying ‘I can’t stay awake anymore, I just can’t do it, but I’ve got to feed the family and I need the job’," Douglas says.

"They’re the sorts of calls we get, certainly weekly.

"The driving is a major issue, but the biggest issue is the extras, the other work that drivers do, that leads them to breaching the legislation."

When asked how widespread the practice of not including in the logbook work such as hooking and unhooking trailers, loading and unloading, Douglas replies: "I think that’s absolutely massive."

Hours of drivers’ loading and unloading flowers by hand but not recording this in their logbooks led to Douglas’ team prosecuting Melbourne-based Miles Transport in 2010.

The company was fined $30,000 and three drivers more than $8,000 between them as a result of an undercover "tailing" and video operation between Melbourne and Sydney.

Douglas says VicRoads have also had cases where they took statements from warehouse staff, and looked at warehouse CCTV from that day.

He says warehouse staff statements have been used in prosecutions, and camera footage conceivably could, "but where we’ve looked at it, it hasn’t assisted".

"I think the issue is though that drivers are aware there are limited resources within road authorities, and limited resources within police for this style of investigation," Douglas says.

"Given how many heavy vehicles and drivers and different locations there are, they probably run the gauntlet, and it’s probably a safe bet, unless, for whatever reason, it comes to the authorities’ attention – for example, if there is a crash."

You can read more on chain of responsibility in Victoria in the April edition of Owner//Driver.


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