Truckie fa­tigue rules at is­sue

Seymour Telegraph - - NEWS - There is only lim­ited ev­i­dence avail­able about the im­pact of fa­tigue rules on truck driver safety. A new re­search project aims to change that.

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.’’


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