Electronic work diary incentives unlikely

Governments are unlikely to introduce incentives to encourage trucking operators to switch to electronic work diaries

By Brad Gardner | November 11, 2010

Governments are unlikely to introduce financial incentives to encourage the adoption of electronic work diaries despite calls from industry to do so.

The National Transport Commission’s (NTC) senior safety manager, Jeff Potter, says governments have not shown interest in implementing a subsidy scheme if GPS-style electronic reporting is brought in as an alternative to the paper-based method.

The NTC last month released its policy discussion paper on electronic work diaries, which are designed to improve operators’ compliance with fatigue management and allow them to respond to breaches in real time.

"I think the industry is always enthusiastic about the idea of a subsidy or an incentive scheme, any industry is. I don’t see any commitment to go down that path from any of the governments," Potter says.

Navman Wireless recommended tax breaks for companies that installed electronic monitoring systems, which are due to be trialled under a pilot program in NSW.

The NTC paper recommends companies using electronic diaries be required to install printers to give roadside enforcement officers hard copies of their driving and rest hours.

However, the paper argues that doing so will add extra costs and complexity and reduce the productivity benefits of having electronic diaries.

Potter says an in-cab printer will resemble devices used by the taxi industry and that the best solution is for a printer to be integrated into the tracking device.

It will be trialled as part of the pilot program alongside other options such as an in-vehicle screen for enforcement officers to view and a back-office solution to email road agencies on request.

"We certainly heard the message very clearly from the operators and from some of the suppliers very well that having an in-cab printer wasn’t the best way to set it up," Potter says.

"We also heard some fairly strong views that without a hard copy documentation at the side of the road that was going to be very hard for the enforcement people."

While the NTC paper does not outline the cost of the technology to industry, Potter hopes the trial will give decision makers an idea.

"The question of cost to get from what’s currently installed in vehicles to what meets current specification standards is one of the bits of information we’re hoping to gather from this consultation process," he says.

Some trucking companies currently use in-vehicle tracking technology, but the tools will need to be replaced if they do not meet specification standards.

The NTC paper is open for feedback until December 10. The NTC is planning to hold consultation sessions later this month or early December.

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