Plea for fa­tigue law fix

Freighters lobby for change

Big Rigs - - NEWS - James Gra­ham James.Gra­ham@bi­grigs.com.au

THE Na­tional Road Freighters As­so­ci­a­tion has called for an ur­gent over­haul of the cur­rent fa­tigue man­age­ment laws.

Ken Wilkie, im­me­di­ate past vice-pres­i­dent of the grass roots lobby group, said they needed to be more flex­i­ble and be more sym­pa­thetic to­ward a driver’s nat­u­ral noc­tur­nal sleep­ing rhythms.

In a com­pre­hen­sive state­ment – see page 39 of this is­sue for the as­so­ci­a­tion’s en­tire po­si­tion pa­per – the NRFA ad­vo­cates for the adop­tion of the WA model which al­lows for more driver au­ton­omy around a 14-hour work­ing day.

“Yes, it’s il­le­gal to drive fa­tigued ir­re­spec­tive of your hours and that’s all well and good,” said Mr Wilkie, one of the long­est-serv­ing driv­ers in the game.

“But what hap­pens if a per­son is com­mit­ted to an or­gan­i­sa­tion to run a truck be­tween say Bris­bane and Syd­ney and get­ting out of Bris­bane in the early evening to be there the next morn­ing and sud­denly he finds he’s hav­ing trou­ble stay­ing awake?

“But the way the reg­u­la­tions are set up, if he pulls up and has an hour or two away from the wheel to make him­self le­gal, then he loses a leg be­cause of this hav­ing to have seven con­sec­u­tive hours off.

“To my mind that’s ab­so­lutely lu­di­crous that we don’t have as much flex­i­bil­ity that we need.”

Ken con­cedes that no reg­u­la­tion can guar­an­tee a driver won’t have a fa­tigue-re­lated is­sue while on the job.

But the NRFA be­lieves there are some sim­ple steps to erad­i­cat­ing the cur­rent is­sues faced by the in­dus­try.

“The first thing we need to do – and I think it should be across the board for ev­ery­one go­ing for a li­cence, ir­re­spec­tive of what size ve­hi­cle – is that there needs to be ed­u­ca­tion on the cir­ca­dian rhythm (the nat­u­ral cy­cle that tells our bod­ies when to sleep, rise and eat),” he said.

Ken said the NRFA’s sug­gested fa­tigue changes would also help driv­ers with young fam­i­lies, who were of­ten kept apart by the cur­rent re­quire­ments to rest.

Cur­rently op­er­a­tors who have done short hauls ear­lier in the week, and then do a longer run later in the work cy­cle are be­ing forced to stand down for 24 hours, away from home and fam­ily.

“We’re de­ter­mined to get this into the public agenda and con­tinue to work for some in­tegrity in the way breaches are han­dled,” he said.

PHOTO: SPY

FAIR LAWS, OR NOT: A log truck parked up at a rest area near Delo­raine in Tas­ma­nia.

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