Forget paper, e-diaries 'should be mandated'

<font color=red><b>E-DIARY DEBATE:</b></font> Electronic monitoring should be forced on trucking companies, GPS provider says

Forget paper, e-diaries 'should be mandated'
Forget paper, e-diaries ‘should be mandated’

By Brad Gardner | September 23, 2009

A technology provider with financial interests in telematics claims the trucking industry should be forced to use electronic work diaries.

Fleet Effect, which promotes computer-based scheduling solutions and GPS devices, has written to the National Transport Commission (NTC) urging the current reporting system be replaced.

The group claims paper diaries can be manipulated and the majority of small operators, which have less than 100 trucks, have a poor record when it comes to averting fatigue and speed related fatalities.

Data used by Fleet Effect shows there are only 19 businesses with 100 or more trucks in an industry of 45,114 operators, meaning mandatory electronic monitoring will create a lucrative market for technology providers.

"The real focus should now be on how to improve the safety and compliance of fleets with less than 100 trucks and, in particular, the vast majority of fleets with only 1-5 trucks," the group writes.

There are 34,919 trucking operators with one vehicle, according to the data.

"The objective should be to eliminate the paper work diary altogether and to mandate an EWD as the way forward," Fleet Effect claims.

The company made the comments in its submission to the NTC’s Electronic Systems for Heavy Vehicle Driver Fatigue and Speed Compliance position paper released in July.

Fleet Effect also wants work diary exemptions in Queensland and New South Wales abolished. Drivers in Queensland who work within 200km of their base do not need to use a work diary, while NSW drivers have a 100km exemption.

If accepted, Fleet Effect’s proposal will give the company access to all sections of the trucking industry.

However, the group’s submission says the suggestion is motivated by road safety.

Fleet Effect says heavy rigid vehicle accidents have climbed 2.8 percent each year for three years, with most accidents occurring in the exemption zones.

Fleet Effect also used its submission to claim it is a "myth" to suggest trucking operators cannot afford electronic monitoring technology.

According to the company, small fleets spend as much as $15,000 on paint and chrome for individual trucks whereas electronic monitoring costs $3,000 per vehicle.

"So mandating any form of technology is a very small cost impost and in almost all cases the investment would provide a reasonable return," Fleet Effect argues.

The company also says operators will benefit by using electronic work diaries because they will reduce the administrative burden on drivers.

Similar to a proposal from the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA), Fleet Effect wants the Intelligent Access Program (IAP) used as an electronic work diary.

The tool is currently used to monitor vehicles on higher mass limits (HML) routes, but Fleet Effect says there is no reason why its responsibilities cannot be expanded.

"All we need to do is develop the specifications for the base technology platform, which is easily built onto the IAP platform," the submission reads.

"The logical solution is to use the existing IAP platform with all it’s [sic] jurisdiction interfaces and existing four service providers to allow the EWD systems to be made available."

Electronic systems can record a vehicle’s movement second-by-second and, like IAP, are capable of detecting tampering.

The NTC proposes introducing a voluntary scheme to give trucking companies a choice between electronic or paper-based reporting.

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