Electronic diaries 'doomed to fail'

By: Steve Skinner

Electronic logbooks will only make the job of Australia’s truck drivers harder, a leading road safety advocate says

Electronic diaries 'doomed to fail'
Prof Ann Williamson says she does not believe in the process of maintaining electronic work diaries.


Electronic work diaries (EWD) are "doomed to fail" without also reforming the trucking industry, says one of Australia’s top transport fatigue researchers.

EWD's are a "side issue" to the main cause of fatigue, which is commercial pressures in transport, says Professor Ann Williamson from the University of New South Wales.

"There’s nothing wrong with electronic work diaries in themselves, but I don’t think they are going to solve any problems when the problems are about the way work is done in the industry," Williamson says.

"There’s no point in putting electronic diaries in trucks where the truck drivers are being motivated to push the envelope.

"It won’t work, it puts extra pressure on and is just doomed to fail.

"The worry is they will become the main focus of enforcement for truck drivers who will have these inflicted on them.

"I think that has a real danger that it will just add to the stress and the tension that drivers already experience about ‘I’m late, my customers are waiting for me, but damn, the logbook is coming up as well and they will know that I’m two minutes over – or 10 minutes over if you have an 8-minute leeway – and I’ll be in trouble for it’.

"That isn’t helping anyone really when the reason I’m over is because the traffic was bad and all the realities of doing this kind of job.

"So I don’t think EWD’s really solve anything."

Williamson says tougher enforcement in general is "fine to a point", but won’t tackle the root economic pressures behind excessive hours, speeding and poor vehicle maintenance.

Amongst other things she advocates the return of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal – of which she was a part-time member – or something like it.

Williamson was speaking at the recent Australasian Road Safety Conference in Canberra, where she was awarded the annual top gong for road safety professionals.

She is director of the Transport and Road Safety Research Centre at the University NSW, and amongst other trucking issues has been researching driver fatigue for decades.

Check out the full feature in the next issue of Owner//Driver.


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