Break for heavy vehicle drivers as NSW restricts light vehicles in rest area trial

By: Rob McKay


Transport for NSW will impose time limits on light vehicles at Yelgun and Arrawarra rest stops to assist heavy vehicle drivers in managing fatigue

Break for heavy vehicle drivers as NSW restricts light vehicles in rest area trial
Overnight campers in truck rest areas may be a thing of the post

 

After years of industry complaints about recreational vehicles hogging truck stops, thereby exacerbating the risk of truck-driver fatigue, Transport for NSW (TFNSW) is having a serious look at imposing controls.

The New South Wales road authority will trial changes to parking in two Pacific Highway rest areas in the state’s north, to ensure spaces are available for all drivers to rest and manage their fatigue.

Changes, starting over the weekend and to last six months, will include the enforcement of fines for light vehicles parked in heavy vehicle spaces and four-hour timed restrictions for light vehicle drivers.

"Heavy vehicle drivers are required by law to take mandatory rest breaks, and because of their size are limited to where they can travel, so it is important that heavy vehicle drivers are able to access dedicated parking spaces to manage their fatigue," TFNSW acting director northern Vicky Sisson says.


Addressing the uneasy relationship between trucks and caravans


Rest area parking restrictions have been introduced in two locations on the Pacific Highway – Yelgun rest area, north of Brunswick Heads, and Arrawarra rest area, north of Coffs Harbour.

"Light vehicles – passenger and commercial vehicles less than 12 tonnes – will not be permitted to park in heavy vehicle spaces in these two locations and penalties will apply," Sisson says.

"A four-hour parking limit will also be trialled in the general vehicle parking spaces. This time limit allows adequate time for light vehicle motorists to rest.

"We want everyone to remember that rest areas are a shared facility – this trial aims to accommodate the needs of all road users and help everyone on the road manage their fatigue.

"We encourage all drivers to plan their journey and make sure they’re well rested before they head off. 

"For longer trips share the driving if possible, and plan regular breaks.  If you need to pull over and rest, a short 15 to 20 minute nap works best,"

A NSW RMS map highlights the Yelgun and Arawarra rest areas.

For travellers who are staying in the area for longer than a rest break, there is a wide range of accommodation options in the local area.

Monitoring will be carried out and considered as part of any future roll out.

The move gains a ready welcome from the industry.

"We welcome this new approach from TfNSW and the proactivity of the Northern region," Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) chief executive Simon O’Hara says.

"RFNSW has made representations on this issue to ministers regarding the need for safe, truck rest areas and we are pleased to see positive action has been taken with this trial on the busy Pacific Highway. 

"We know that rest areas are essential for the safety and well-being of both truckies and light-vehicle drivers and the continued safe operation of freight in NSW.

"RFNSW believes that this trial needs to be replicated across the state, so we can ensure that truckies have enough space in rest areas to park up and rest, allowing them to adhere to fatigue laws and stay safe on the roads."

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA), which is also vocal on rest stop infrastructure issues, backs the move as well

"We encourage all road users to take frequent rest breaks when travelling, however it’s critical that heavy vehicle parking bays are left clear for truck drivers," ATA communications manager Emily Mills says.

"Truck drivers must meet legal fatigue requirements and make use of truck rest areas to meet their obligations.

"This is not optional. 

"Our roads and rest areas are a driver’s workplace, so it’s critical they are provided with appropriate facilities to ensure a safe journey."

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