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Industry needs flexible fatigue management: Williams

Senator John Williams calls for changes to fatigue management laws that mandate strict rest times

By Brad Gardner | May 28, 2010 | May 28, 2010

Nationals Senator John Williams has called for changes to fatigue management regulations to give the trucking industry some more flexibility.

During budget estimates hearings in Canberra this week, Williams criticised provisions which enforce strict rest breaks after a set period of work time.

Williams says a livestock truck driver in South Australia contacted him to say he was 70km from home but had to pull over and sleep in the truck for the night or risk a $500 fine.

“Some 45 minutes or 50 minutes later he would have been home, he could have had a hot shower and a meal and been in his own bed. I think there is not enough flexibility in those circumstances,” Williams says.

“I think it is outrageous and some flexibility should be shown when people have unloaded their livestock and they are driving an empty truck out on a country road.”

But the Executive Director Infrastructure and Surface Transport Policy, Leslie Riggs, warned of the consequences of tinkering with fatigue management law.

“Whether it is about fatigue or the loaded weight of a truck or many other dimensions, there are very real questions about how you build judgement into compliance and enforcement regimes,” Riggs says.

“…how long is the ‘only’? Is it only another 15 minutes that you are allowed or is it another 45 minutes or is it another hour and 15 minutes? Does that mean that the limits for driving hours under that regime are now 16 hours and 15 minutes rather than 15 hours?”

Fatigue management law requires drivers to rest at set times, with the length of breaks varying depending on how long the driver has been on the road.

Those who breach the provisions face fines and the possible loss of their licence.

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