Trucking operator disputes worth of trip plans

Operator Reedie Road disputes the use of trip plans, asking why drivers should be told how to drive their trucks

By Brad Gardner | June 29, 2010

A NSW transport operator has criticised trip plans introduced under fatigue management law, saying they are not effective.

The Director of Reedie Road, Murray Reedie, told an inquiry into heavy vehicle safety earlier this year there are too many variables in the trucking industry for trip plans to work.

According to transcripts from the inquiry, Reedie says he is given a plan prior to leaving to deliver goods but the documents cannot factor in inclement weather conditions, flat tyres and road works which all affect delivery times.

"I will not tell you what the guys in suits tell you about how wonderful trip plans are. I can tell you about how unwonderful they are," Reedie told the parliamentary inquiry.

NSW MP Ian West says variables should be factored in.

"Therefore the consignor and the consignee would need to, in consideration with you, take into account the issues that arise in the trip," he says.

"That is fine, you would nearly have to have a conference before you depart on every single trip," Reedie responded.

He disputed the need to be bound by a trip plan, claiming he has 30 years experience in the industry and is a Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) accredited driving instructor and competency assessor.

"Having said all of this, it is like nobody can trust me to go out and do my job safely and by the law. They want to give me a trip plan and tell me how to do it, which I know I cannot stick to anyway because there are so many variables in life."

Trip plans must be used if drivers travel beyond 500km.

They need to include information on time required to complete a task, rest breaks, loading and unloading times and queuing.

Drivers must be consulted on trip plans, which need to have procedures in place for unexpected road closures and delays.

Despite Reedie’s criticisms, owner-driver Frank Black supports the plans.

"They help keep everyone under control and keep some sanity in the industry at our level where everyone is not trying to shelve their responsibilities," Black says.

But Reedie says drivers do not like being given a piece of paper telling them where they need to stop for a rest and where they need to stop to sleep.

"As long as the truck gets there in the legal driving parameters and it gets there on time and he [the driver] does not abuse any customers and he does not run any of the general public off the road, why should someone tell him how to drive his truck?" Reedie asks.

"Maybe because people are dying," West says.

The parliamentary inquiry is being conducted by the NSW StaySafe Committee. A report on its findings into heavy vehicle safety is due to be released soon.

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