Truckie fatigue rules at issue
The chair of the Australian Trucking Association has called on the Transport Workers’ Union to re-think its opposition to research into driver fatigue rules.
Noelene Watson said new research into the effects of the truck driver fatigue rules would improve safety, monitoring a sample of drivers during their reallife work shifts, and then in a laboratory during simulated shifts.
‘‘The TWU has announced that it opposes this research, basically because it does not involve reestablishing the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal,’’ she said.
‘‘But fatigue experts agree that more research is needed into the effect of the fatigue rules. The research will improve safety and help make sure the rules are no more complicated than is absolutely necessary.’’
The project is a joint initiative between the Cooperative Research Centre for Alertness, Safety and Productivity, the National Transport Commission, road agencies, police and industry. The ATA is a member of the project steering committee.
‘‘The Heavy Vehicle National Law fatigue rules are complex, with detailed provisions about how to count work and rest time and overlapping 24-hour counting periods. Complying with the rules is stressful for drivers and operators, because of the risk of making a mistake,’’ Mrs Watson said.
‘‘And despite the complexity of the rules, there is only limited evidence available about their impact on driver fatigue and safety.
‘‘Some state enforcement agencies have called for changes to the rules, particularly in relation to what are called nose-to-tail schedules. The ATA pointed out in 2014 that there was not enough evidence about the practice for governments to make an informed decision. The research will address this issue.
‘‘The ATA also considers that the research needs to cover the quantity and quality of sleep that drivers get during major rest breaks, including the benefits of allowing split rest so drivers can move their trucks to a quieter spot after buying food or having a shower.’’