Australia, Transport News, Truck Safety

ATA calls for fatigue laws to cover smaller trucks

The ATA is asking the NTC to extend fatigue laws in the HVNL to cover a wider range of heavy vehicles

In its weekly Friday Facts newsletter, the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has called for fatigue laws to be extended to cover smaller trucks.

In its submission to the National Transport Commission (NTC) on Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) reforms, the ATA says laws should cover trucks weighing between 4.5 and 12 tonnes.

Currently the HVNL governs the safety of drivers and operators of vehicles weighing between 4.5 and 12 tonnes, but these vehicles have no work, rest hour nor record keeping responsibilities.

ATA chair David Smith says the extension would improve safety for the drivers of these trucks and other road users.

“When the fatigue laws were developed, it was decided to exclude the drivers of smaller trucks,” Smith says.

“It was assumed that long working hours and fatigue were less of a problem for these drivers.

“This assumption was wrong. More drivers of vehicles weighing less than 12 tonnes doing local work report fatigue as a substantial or major problem than drivers of long distance heavy vehicles.”

As a result, Smith says there’s a strong case for extending fatigue regulation to cover all trucks.

“Local drivers would need to comply with the work and rest hour rules but would not need to fill in a work diary. Their record keeper or business would need to keep the same local work records that are required now,” Smith says.

“This approach would deliver increased safety at the lowest cost of all the options that the NTC considered. It would reflect the reality that local work involves regular changes in activity and as a result carries a lower fatigue risk.”

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