Over-zealous authorities a career deterrent

By: Ken Wilkie

Owner-operator Ken Wilkie says the indecent attitude of the authorities and their foot soldiers towards drivers would make you think twice before joining the road transport industry.

Over-zealous authorities a career deterrent
The trucking industry is continuously targeted by authorities.


Making a simple mistake in your work diary can have significant negative consequences, according to Ken Wilkie, a long-time owner-operator and columnist in Owner//Driver magazine.

"At a recent National Transport Commission (NTC) meeting it was said to me that six fatigue experts came up with six different responses to the fatigue issue," Wilkie says.

"At least one of those fatigue experts is confused between what is a safety issue and what are better working conditions; in her eyes."

Referring to a recent incident relayed to him by a fellow owner-driver, who he says could be facing possible bankruptcy due to exceeding driving hours.

Wilkie says, admittedly, the person in question did not grasp the full significance of the 24-hour rule.

"On three occasions in a month he exceeded his 12 hours after resting, once for eight hours and the two lots were eight and one-and-a-half hours.

"It should be pointed out that these eight and plus hours were in the shaded area of the ‘goose book’," Wilkie says.

"Most of us are aware of how easy it is to go over the magic number, especially on a 12-hour book.

"Now he is confronted by a maximum fine per breach of $14,000 and four demerit points per breach.

"The system that six fatigue experts can’t agree on has demanded he face court because in their ignorance, he has committed a critical breach.

"And those court appearances are in two towns on different days probably a 1000km from his home base."

Wilkie says he could be persuaded to soften his attitude to electronic log books if bureaucracy took a knowledgeable attitude to variations from prescribed hours.

"The working week needs to be extended past the six days to accommodate those doing real long-haul work, and much more awareness needs to be directed at the diurnal nature of humanity.

"Operating in a fatigued state has to be treated as a potential crime – no doubt – but the issue must be actual fatigue."

He says the responsibility of being judge and jury must be taken away from roadside enforcement

"I saw some industry media discussion on the trucking industry’s inability to attract new and young players to the game of our profession. It definitely is a profession.

"Sadly though, in many people’s eyes the profession is regarded in the same light as a ‘ladies-of-the-night’ profession.

"Is the romanticising of the old days really the problem? Not to my mind. I think the real issue is overregulation coupled by a lack of tolerance and understanding by too many enforcement people."

Wilkie, who has made personal sacrifices to lift the industry’s profile, says he is also disappointed at the attitude of the Australian Trucking Association, which he believes views people such as himself and TruckRight Industry Vehicle driver and road safety advocate Rod Hannifey as opposition.

"What makes spending shareholders’ funds more praiseworthy than a personal sacrifice? Rather than acknowledge the massive effort by many people who don’t rate in the minds of management as significant players, management accuses the likes of Rod Hannifey as being ‘rednecks’. It seems management takes a churlish attitude to those not ‘in the clique’," Wilkie says.

Read Ken Wilkie's column in the September 2016 edition of Owner//Driver.

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