Opinion

Sleepless in a cab-over

Sleepless in a cab-over

Hopefully in the future we can start working on managing fatigue, and by this, I mean changing the length laws of our prime movers so we can have proper comfortable sleepers to manage fatigue.

As an owner-driver I can choose what sort of truck and what size sleeper I need for me to do the job in front of me and for me to be comfortable on the road and have all the things I need to help manage my fatigue.

For the poor old company driver that is thrown into a cab-over with a tiny sleeper and having no room to be able to be comfortable on the road adds to fatigue. They have no room to carry gear let alone carry enough food for the week to be able to pull up anywhere at any time to heat a prepared meal or to cook something on a cooker. It all adds up to fatigue.

With a decent sleeper you can be set up with a microwave, fridge and even a separate freezer so you can eat home-cooked meals on the road, instead of pulling into a truck stop and eating greasy fried food from a hot box. Then there’s the issue of finding a shower and getting a good night sleep.

If you have the right set up, throughout the afternoon you can be planning what time you pull into any parking bay for 30 minutes or an hour, whichever you choose, and with your precooked meal you can heat and eat, and have your required break.

Then as you drive into the night you can be planning which truck stop you can pull up at with a decent shower after having already eaten a few hours before.

If you’re in a pint-sized cab or day cab and don’t have that choice, you will find yourself driving all day, having to pull into a truck stop and eating out of the hot box. After that you have to totally rearrange the whole inside of the cab-over just so you can get into bed to have a sleep.

If you’re set up with a decent sleeper with plenty of room to carry clothes and have food all sorted and everything in its place, this will have a big impact on managing your fatigue.

How many times do you pass a cab‑over with a fridge on the passenger seat or a suitcase or bag full of gear to survive the week? You must think to yourself, ‘how do these poor blokes or ladies survive?’.” The sooner they change our length laws the sooner we can manage fatigue much safer and easier.

I can see some of the manufacturers starting to push into this area, including the likes of Western Star with the 82-inch bunk and soon to be released Mack with a 70-inch bunk. There are definitely OEM manufacturers that can see owner-drivers looking for larger living space.

With a little bit of help from everyone involved, maybe one day the strike of the pen may go our way in this area. When they do I believe drivers can manage fatigue easier and our roads will be safer for everyone to travel.

DALE McDONALD, a current National Road Freighters Association board member, became an owner-driver at the age of 20. His driving experience includes various trucks from concrete agitators to truck and dogs and to B-doubles doing interstate. Later in life he decided to become an owner-driver again, doing refrigerated freight as a tow operator. He realised the sad state of our roads and rest areas, wanting to be a voice to help improve the transport industry.

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