Electronic diaries on the way as changes to trucking law take effect

By: Brad Gardner

Amendments will allow electronic work diaries and new penalties to be introduced.


Changes to heavy vehicle law throughout most of Australia have now taken effect, cementing the introduction of electronic work diaries (EWDs) and new penalties from next year.

Amendments to the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) that were agreed to last year were introduced on February 6. The HVNL is in place in across Australia except Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

The changes mean EWDs can be used from next year, providing trucking operators and drivers with a voluntary alternative to paper work diaries. The devices will automatically record compliance with work and rest times.

An EWD study found that the diaries would cost $1,200 each and $500 to install, with monthly ongoing costs of $20.

The introduction of the diaries will coincide with new penalties for those who misuse information generated, commit privacy breaches and fail to keep records.

The fines can be high in some cases, with unauthorised disclosure attracting a $20,000 penalty.

The Queensland Government believes the diaries will improve safety in the trucking industry.

Policy makers have attempted to ensure drivers are not fined for trivial breaches relating to work hoursa concern the industry has repeatedly raised due to the highly accurate nature of the devices.

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) says EWDs will improve the accuracy of fatigue management data, allow transport operators to respond to breaches in real-time and help drivers to plan their work and rest schedules.

The devices will be capable of alerting drivers if they are close to committing a fatigue management breach.

While authorities are hopeful large numbers of operators and drivers will make the switch to EWDs, Australian Trucking Association (ATA) CEO Chris Melham believes they may be an "unnecessary cost" for small firms.

The US late last year announced EWDs would be introduced, but it went further than Australia by making them mandatory.


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