Fatigue exemption approved
Drivers allowed an extra hour for personal use
AN EXTRA hour in the day to make it home is all a busy driver can wish for.
Well, it seems that wish has been granted by the NHVR which announced, in a major win for the industry, it would allow drivers to use a fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle for personal activities during a 24-hour rest break or at the end of their shift.
The decision, announced in late January, which was widely welcomed by those in the sector, follows months of consultation on the matter.
The proposed exemption must be used for private or non-commercial activities, such as reaching suitable sleeping accommodation and restocking supplies for a trip.
Permitted personal activities can include, retrieving personal items such as groceries, cleaning a heavy vehicle, refuelling or attending to personal matters.
For driver Bruce Skelton, the change has added some lenience to the rigid fatigue laws he has to deal with on a daily basis.
“It’s not like you can jump in a taxi whereever you stop, so it is a good thing but I think they can do a bit more to make it more flexible,” he said.
“There still aren’t enough places to park when we need to access shops anyway.
“Honestly they are just legalising what a lot of people were already doing,” he said.
How is it will be important, this needs to benefit drivers not their employers
— Michael Cramp
Queensland based truckie Tom Boston also wants the laws to go further.
As a driver who operates under an Advanced Fatigue Management, the changes won’t be available to him.
“For me it is a moot issue, we don’t get to use it but we still need it,” he said.
“Just the other day I had to have a reset brake in a small town. I had to grab supplies before my time ran out and just sat there for 24 hours without any transport,” he said.
“It is a bit of a band-aid: I would like to see something spread across the board.
“If you combine the technology and data catching they can do now, I don’t know why these log books are still a thing.
“Fatigue should just be recorded and managed.
“Paper log books really should be a thing of the past and drivers should be able to manage their own fatigue,” he said.
Others however have raised concerns the extra hours may be exploited by some employers.
Michael Cramp, who has worked in the industry for decades, said he hoped the exemption wasn’t abused.
“As my personal view, for its intended purposes the changes are fine, but to fuel it up or wash the truck are really work-related tasks,” he said.
“How is it recorded will be important, this needs to benefit drivers not their employers,” he said. ■ Ninety per cent of submissions received by the NHVR supported the change.
ME TIME: Drivers will be allowed flexibility when it comes to using their trucks for personal reasons.