Truckies suffering in poor conditions
Union pushes fixes
INCREASING pressure on truckies, who face long hours and low wages, is having devastating effects on truck drivers according to Transport Workers Union Queensland branch secretary Peter Biagini.
After 55 years in the industry, former truck driver Victor Jacobsen said the demands on truck drivers were tougher than ever.
Mr Jacobsen said tighter regulations meant more truckies were doing the right thing, but conditions for drivers had worsened in the past 15 years.
“I don’t reckon the money is as good as it used to be,” he said.
Mr Biagini, who grew up in a trucking family, said the demands from clients to lower prices was leading to overworked truck drivers.
“They are doing hours of two people just to make ends meet,” he said.
“Their lifestyle causes problems in their personal life, which is leading to a lot of mental issues.
“We are seeing that every day.”
Loneliness, chronic fatigue and stress were some of the everyday struggles truck drivers faced, Mr Biagini said.
But he said there was hope for the industry.
“It can be fixed,” he said. “In the early days in the industry those long-distance drivers we called them the pilots of the highway they were such professionals.”
While technology may be keeping some truck drivers from getting vital rest, it can also help truck drivers manage fatigue.
Mr Biagini said there were systems that would disable trucks from being driven during the hours truck drivers were meant to be resting.
Other innovations included infra-red technology that monitored fatigue by scanning the pupils of the eyes of truck drivers.
Fatigue laws that require truck drivers to take rest breaks at designated times could often clash with truck drivers’ natural waves of tiredness, Mr Biagini said.
Under the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, truck drivers are required to take seven hours of continuous rest in a 24-hour period.
The also need to keep a log book of their driving hours.
“But a lot of people say a clock can’t tell you when you’re tired and when you have to sleep,” Mr Biagini said.
Frasers Livestock Transport director Ross Fraser said drivers had a responsibility to manage their fatigue, and most did it well.
“I think most of the drivers are getting adequate rest in their stopovers,” Mr Fraser said.
He said most of the accredited trucking companies were highly regulated to ensure drivers were meeting health and safety standards.
— Marian Faa