Caught out on kilometre count

By: Sarah Marinovic*

LEGAL OPINION: Jumping from local work to long distance can be a minefield as far as your logbook is concerned

Caught out on kilometre count
You need to record all work and rest on any day you drive more than 100km from your base.


As we all know, there are a multitude of ways to be pinged for breaching the work diary rules. I thought I’d seen them all – from confusing rules about counting time, to pulling out (or leaving in) the wrong duplicate pages, to forgetting to tick a box.

However, recently I’ve come across a scenario that’s a new one for me. I hope that bringing it to everyone’s attention can help avoid anyone else falling into the same trap.

This potential breach happens when a driver unexpectedly switches from local to 100-plus kilometre work.

The Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) requires drivers operating under standard hours to fill in their work diary for each day on which they undertake 100-plus kilometre work. The driver is required to record all work on the day, including any local (100km) work. They need to fill in the work diary whenever they switch from work to rest time and vice versa.

This is simple enough when the driver knows that they will be doing 100-plus kilometre work that day. From the beginning of their workday they know they need to be recording all work and rest, no matter where it happens, and so will begin recording time from the start.

Hefty fines

But what happens on those days where a driver is unexpectedly asked to do a longer trip? For example, if they started the day expecting to do all local work then they weren’t required to fill in their work diary. So they won’t have a record of their work for the first part of the day.

In these cases, the HVNL still requires the driver to fill in their work diary for the whole day. This means once they realise they’re going to be doing 100-plus kilometre work they need to go back and fill in the information for the earlier local work. They need to do this as soon as practicable after they realise they’re going to be doing 100-plus kilometre work.

If the driver isn’t aware of this then they can be facing a court summons and a hefty fine. If they mistakenly fill in the beginning of their day as rest time they could be charged with making a false or misleading entry, which carries a maximum penalty of $11,210.

This is a classic example of the type of situation where good drivers get caught out. When we divert from our normal habits it’s easy to overlook something. It’s the ‘change of plans’ that often catch people out.

The take home lesson is to remember that you need to record all work and rest on any day you drive more than 100km from your base.

If plans change, try to take a step back from what is often a chaotic moment and instead take a moment to double check the requirements. That extra few minutes at the start is well worth it to avoid giving the authorities a reason to send you to court.


*SARAH MARINOVIC is a principal solicitor at Ainsley Law – a firm dedicated to traffic and heavy vehicle law. She has focused on this expertise for over a decade, having started her career prosecuting for the RMS, and then using that experience as a defence lawyer helping professional drivers and truck owners. For more information email Sarah at or phone 0416 224 601.

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