Subbie wants fatigue management reform

Owner-driver says fatigue management needs to be reformed and that some truckies are being discriminated against by the NTC

Subbie wants fatigue management reform
Subbie wants fatigue management reform
By Brad Gardner | October 4, 2010

An owner-driver frustrated with fatigue management laws wants the system reformed and says sections of the trucking industry are being "discriminated against".

Queensland-based owner-driver Trevor Warner has used a submission to the National Transport Commission’s review of basic fatigue management(BFM) to criticise the current state of the scheme.

He wants the NTC to look at restrictions on night driving, which he says limits him to an eight-day fortnight because he is a shift worker.

"NTC has actually discriminated against fresh produce/night shift drivers, as it effectively allows a day shift driver to earn approx $1200 per fortnight more income," Warner writes.

Drivers are limited to 36 hours of work in any seven-day period between midnight and 6am. According to the NTC, drivers are at greater risk of fatigue during this period.

Warner has also raised concerns about the blanket application of fatigue management, echoing comments made by fellow truck Rod Hannifey on the need for more flexibility.

"The one box fits all approach makes it extremely difficult for me to be constantly legal. There are too many things are out of my control, primarily loading and unloading, but I’m forced to deal with it," he says.

Warner, who is based on the Sunshine Coast, says he is prevented from legally driving home to sleep under fatigue management.

Once drivers reach their allotted limit of hours under the scheme they cannot continue driving the truck even if it is outside work time.

"There needs to be a further amendment to enable a driver to complete there (sic) work and then drive home, regardless of the vehicle used," he says.

Currently, Warner says he must try and rest in Brisbane despite the fact it only has two "hot, noisy truck stops".

According to Warner, existing BFM requirements are actually causing him fatigue because he is stressed, limited in the time he can spend at home and unable to find places to rest.

The NTC proposes scrapping the mandatory 24-hour break after 84 hours of work and replacing it with a 48-hour break after 144 hours or 12 days of work.

The change is designed to give businesses more flexibility and drivers more time to spend with their family.

The NTC has proposed giving drivers the opportunity to split the mandatory seven-hour rest break in any 24-hour period into two blocks in case they cannot find a suitable spot to have a sustained rest.

Drivers currently can only use a split rest as a defence if they are accused of breaking fatigue management law. Furthermore, the break can only be split into one six-hour and one or more two-hour rests.

Warner says giving drivers the ability to split rest into a five-hour and two-hour period will help.

Hannifey says drivers should be free to split the rest how they want so they can adjust their sleep period according to how they feel and whether there is a suitable area to pull over.

Following a call from Hannifey the NTC extended the consultation period on the proposed changes from October 8 to October 23.

The NTC conducted a review of BFM following complaints from the trucking industry the scheme was too restrictive and deterring operators from enrolling in it.

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