National push for operator and driver codes of conduct

By: Jason Whittaker

The Victorian branch of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) is pushing for national acceptance of driver and operator codes of

The Victorian branch of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) is pushing for national acceptance of driver and operator codes of conduct which were introduced in Victoria last month.

Branch secretary Bill Noonan says the Professional Driver Code of Conduct and the Transport Industry Operator Code of Conduct have been so well-received that he will propose they be adopted in other states when he meets with his federal counterpart Tony Sheldon in coming weeks.

He will also flag the idea with branch secretaries at the next federal council meeting in May in order to gauge the level of support for the codes.

According to Noonan, all members of the TWU are aware of the documents, signed in conjunction with the Victorian Transport Association (VTA), and continue to express support for them.

Furthermore, he adds no major transport companies have phoned his office to complain.

"We’ve had terrific feedback," Noonan says.

"All and sundry think it is a positive step for the TWU and the VTA to have signed these documents."

VTA Chief Executive Phil Lovel says the organisation has also received a positive response since the launch, and the VTA will continue to promote them to show the wider community the trucking industry is serious about safety.

"It is important to keep pushing the fact that this industry is safe and proactive," Lovel says.

The Transport Industry Operator Code of Conduct commits transport companies that sign it to "promote safe transport operations" by ensuring drivers are fit for work, observing fatigue regulations, avoiding illicit drugs or alcohol and committing to driving in a safe manner.

The onus will also be on companies to cut queuing and scheduling times to reduce driver fatigue, as well as to implement safety procedures to decrease the chances of accidents when loading and unloading trucks.

The Professional Driver Code of Conduct commits individuals to driving safely, observing road transport laws, obeying fatigue regulations, avoiding the use of mobile phones while driving and staying in the left lane unless overtaking.

Lovel says the codes will complement the VTA’s Driver Distraction campaign which will be launched in May.

He says the trucking industry has, and continues to, demonstrate the importance its places on safety, and it is now time for other road users to do the same.

"The truck drivers have agreed to the code, now we need passenger vehicles to learn how to behave around trucks," he says.

In order to educate drivers, the VTA has released a guide on how to act around trucks. It calls on motorists to take care when passing trucks as well as remembering that, due to their size, trucks take some time to brake.

While the Brumby Government declined to legislate the codes of conduct in order to make them legally enforceable, rogue operators or drivers will feel the pinch with the VTA and TWU calling for transport customers to sanction those who breach the codes.

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