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Big Rigs - - NEWS - Kate Dodd kate.dodd@bi­grigs.com.au

ARMED with some of the ques­tions that have been trou­bling Aus­tralian truck­ies, I headed off to the Na­tional Heavy Ve­hi­cle Reg­u­la­tor to get you some an­swers.

I met with Ge­off Casey, the pro­duc­tiv­ity and safety ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, who sat down with me, happy to try and give you the an­swers you need. QUES­TION: Truck­ies don’t seem to be very happy with the elec­tronic work di­aries, why have we brought them to Aus­tralia when they didn’t seem to work in the US? ■ AN­SWER: I don’t know if the truck drivers as such are un­happy with them.

(They have the) elec­tronic log­ging de­vice, which is sim­i­lar but not ex­actly the same as ours.

We un­der­stand some of the op­er­a­tors, be­cause it’s manda­tory in the US, there­fore (feel) it’s be­ing im­posed upon them and costs as­so­ci­ated with it are be­ing im­posed upon them, some of the op­er­a­tors have op­posed it a lit­tle bit.

It’s fairly early days over there, it only came in in De­cem­ber, it’s a lit­tle hard to tell what the re­ac­tion is at this stage.

I guess the sig­nif­i­cant difference is we un­der­stand those that do have it, the ma­jor­ity of them, al­most 90-some­thing per cent, wouldn’t ac­tu­ally go back now that they’ve got it from a driver’s per­spec­tive, how it con­trib­utes to their day-to-day work and I think the big­gest difference is that ours is vol­un­tary any­way so the sys­tem we’re bring­ing in, if peo­ple choose not to take it there’s no obli­ga­tion to do so. Q: Can we talk about the sys­tem with fa­tigue laws, when truck­ies feel they’re OK to drive but books tell them they can’t drive any longer, how do we deal with that? ■ A: Fa­tigue and fa­tigue laws are com­plex is­sues, not only in our in­dus­try but in any in­dus­try – avi­a­tion, mar­itime, rail, they all strug­gle with laws that ad­e­quately ap­ply to an in­di­vid­ual be­cause fa­tigue is sub­jec­tive.

What makes you tired might not make me tired.

There’s an ex­pec­ta­tion,

how­ever, from the gen­eral com­mu­nity that we put some pa­ram­e­ters around that so we have laws.

Those laws will never ad­e­quately man­age fa­tigue.

Fa­tigue has to be man­aged by the driver, the op­er­a­tor, the var­i­ous peo­ple that have an im­pact on the driver or op­er­a­tor.

I un­der­stand the angst as­so­ci­ated with it. It is dif­fi­cult to draft a law that ap­plies equally to ev­ery­one when peo­ple be­have dif­fer­ently.

It is a com­plex is­sue, so each time we re­new the laws we try to take into ac­count some of those con­sid­er­a­tions, learn from other in­dus­tries, learn from the in­dus­try it­self is the best way to do that. Q: Truck­ies I’ve been speak­ing to think there’s this push for all the fa­tigue laws but not enough safe rest stops. So they’ve been told they need to take their break but there’s nowhere safe to take their breaks. ■ A: We hear a bit of that too and I don’t dis­agree.

(I’m) not wish­ing to say that it’s not our re­spon­si­bil­ity but rest stops are a state mat­ter, so each of the states are dif­fer­ent.

That be­ing said, we are do­ing our best through var­i­ous fo­rums to in­flu­ence build­ing new rest stops. There are a num­ber of ini­tia­tives on the way in terms of be­ing able to iden­tify where a rest stop is avail­able for a driver, whether those rest stops are full.

We’ve also been en­gaged in some work with var­i­ous states and ju­ris­dic­tions around en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple like recre­ational car­a­van­ners, who tend to use the truck stops so the trucks can’t stop there.

So we’re work­ing around the pe­riph­ery of it and try­ing to help the drivers but we can’t ac­tu­ally put truck stops in – as I said that’s a state is­sue, un­for­tu­nately. But there are some good ini­tia­tives com­ing up soon. Q: Can you ex­plain how the laws are made and whether those peo­ple who are mak­ing the de­ci­sions have ex­pe­ri­ence as truck drivers? ■ A: Fun­da­men­tally what hap­pens is we have an or­gan­i­sa­tion – the Na­tional Trans­port Com­mis­sion, the NTC – who are re­spon­si­ble for draft­ing and con­sult­ing heavy ve­hi­cle laws.

We ob­vi­ously have a sig­nif­i­cant in­put to that so the process – whether it’s fa­tigue laws or other laws – is to iden­tify a need to change a law or draft a law.

Does the NTC specif­i­cally have truck drivers? No.

We have some em­ploy­ees here who are and have been truck drivers.

We en­gage with the in­dus­try prob­a­bly a lit­tle more than the NTC does but be­cause of our in­volve­ment in it, we will try and direct whether those laws are con­struc­tive and we’ve recog­nised al­ready the laws that need a re­view and we’re in that process with the NTC now.

The other is­sue is that in draft­ing any laws there’s a re­quire­ment that the NTC and us for that mat­ter have to en­gage in an ex­ten­sive con­sul­ta­tion process.

So that’s where I would en­cour­age any­one in the in­dus­try, be they a driver or an op­er­a­tor, to par­tic­i­pate in that con­sul­ta­tion process.

One of the prob­lems we have is that we hear back from peo­ple who didn’t like a law but they didn’t par­tic­i­pate and say what they thought it should be.

So please, when that process comes about I would en­cour­age ev­ery­one to par­tic­i­pate in that. So that way, any driver should be able to have their say.

❝ One of the prob­lems we have is that we hear back from peo­ple who didn’t like a law but they didn’t par­tic­i­pate and say what they thought it should be.

— Ge­off Casey


THEIR SAY: The Na­tional Heavy Ve­hi­cle Reg­u­la­tor an­swers some of your ques­tions.


NHVR pro­duc­tiv­ity and safety ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Ge­off Casey.


Find out NHVR’s stance on rest ar­eas.

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