Change for the better

By: Rod Hannifey


Exorbitant fines, logbook flexibility and a rest area strategy are the first items on our club’s agenda

Fatigue Rdsigns .owdjune 18

I have listed three things that I want to see changed in the transport industry. These are the first items the Truck That Australia Drivers Club is aiming for.

These requests will be sent to all who have authority or interest in these issues to seek their help and support to achieve change. We will follow up with a list of those who reply and/or offer support.


 Truck That: Parking bay realities and Safe-T-Cam push back. Read more


 

Over-the-top fines

Firstly, the fines and penalties for Safe-T-Cam avoidance or following too closely at these sites, which was to also be deemed as avoidance, have no justification for road safety and the level of those fines.

If a driver gets the photo saying he has crossed the fog-line or was too close, then there is obviously no way to avoid the camera and the fine is simply revenue raising. Yes, there is a fine for crossing an unbroken line, but not at the level here. There is also a fine for following too closely, but again not at the same level – and being only one metre too close is not a safety risk.

I do not condone or accept those who try to avoid the camera, but do not want drivers fined when they are simply not at the 60 metre requirement by a small margin.

I have asked those in the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) who are responsible for the new national camera network to look at marking distance lines at all sites. If you are deemed to be 59 metres from the truck in front because the car in front of him hit the brakes, as many do at such sites at the last minute, you will get a fine. But if there was a line at the 60 metre distance, you will know where you must be, instead of guessing and maybe being a metre out and then getting a fine.

I ask these fines be either removed until such lines are in place, or the penalties changed to reflect normal fines, not jacked up and only hitting truck drivers at these sites.

If the network is about data and safety, then there is no reasonable justification for such severe penalties when you cannot avoid the camera in this way.

 

Split rest application

Secondly, I have asked NHVR to allow split rest. It is recognised that logbooks and the hours we operate under do not provide the needed flexibility for some drivers, some days and some jobs.

There is research underway and we will see what that offers, but such results could be some time coming. I recognise we will have to offer some offset and, while split rest is currently allowed as a defence, it is only as six-plus-two hours with no other option and not fully recognised nationally.

I suggest we ask for two days maximum each week, not on consecutive days, and that we agree to an eight-hour total.

When you want to manage your fatigue and need to have a nanna nap or afternoon kip, this can often then mean you must still have a seven-hour break that night, which if you have made the effort to have sleep when you need it, can well mean you will get a few hours and then wake and have to wait for your logbook and this can work against you. Similarly, if you are held up loading and can achieve some sleep, you will be nearly punished and still required to stop for 7 hours to comply with current law. This can often mean you will not stop to have a break, as you will be forced to stop later for your 7 hour break. I believe this is not a huge ask and will not benefit all, but will help many to achieve better fatigue management and compliance.

 

Rest area strategy

Thirdly, we are all painfully aware of the lack of rest areas and the penalties we incur if we do not stop to suit the current laws and these are written, enabled and policed, by those who do not have to live by them. I congratulate and thank the National Transport Commission (NTC) for initiating a review of the National Truck Rest Areas design standards, but we now need a National Rest Area Strategy.

We need to have a map of all formal and informal rest areas to find the gaps and then to overlay that with fatigue crashes to have the data to say where rest areas are needed. Then we need a national strategy to build such sites.

Even if initially such sites are done as informal green reflector bays and then upgraded as funds become available, that will provide something cheap and effective to start, giving us the sites we need now, but again, having them allocated on a needs basis and being able to be done far quicker than finding millions of dollars for many sites at once.

Yes, we want better facilities overall, with shade and toilets in the future, but many of our sites now are dirt with a bin and having this is better than having nothing and being tired while looking for a place when there is simply not enough. We recognise other motorists need such sites as well and the ever growing number of caravans and campers etc, while seasonal, places enormous pressure not only on the number of sites, but on our ability to comply with the law and even more importantly, our ability to manage our fatigue.

I would welcome your views, your comments and your support of these three aims and your joining and participating in the Truck That Australia Drivers’ Club. Go to www.truckingnation.com.au and click on Truck That Australia Drivers Club.

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