Daley leads charge to 'tweak' fatigue laws

NSW lifts work diary restrictions and calls on NTC to 'tweak' fatigue laws to improve them nationwide

Daley leads charge to 'tweak' fatigue laws
Daley leads charge to 'tweak' fatigue laws
By Brad Gardner

Work diary restrictions for trucking operators in NSW will be scrapped, as the Rees Government moves to "tweak" fatigue management laws and have the changes introduced nationwide.

Minister for Roads Michael Daley today announced he will abandon the local work diary rule, which requires truck drivers to use logbooks when working within 100km of their depot.

Daley had originally granted a 12-month exemption but decided to extend it permanently following a meeting with the Road Freight Advisory Council in Sydney this week.

But in a further sign Daley is still not content with the current regime, he has tasked the NSW Centre for Road Safety to work with the trucking industry and fatigue experts to implement sector-specific improvements.

He has also contacted the National Transport Commission (NTC), asking it to progress the issues raised by the Centre for Road Safety with other jurisdictions on a national level.

A spokesman for the NTC says it will look at "sensible tweaks we can make" to help operators comply with fatigue management requirements.

"If they [the proposals] have merit, NTC will run them through a national process," the spokesman says.

The Livestock and Bulk Carriers Association (LBCA) is pushing for changes to accommodate drivers needing to start work earlier in the morning.

Current restrictions require drivers to rest continuously for 7 hours between 10pm and 8am, and also limit the amount of driving between midnight and 6am.

LBCA Chief Executive Andrew Higginson has suggested a trade-off system, whereby drivers amend their trip plans or take additional rest in return for working different hours.

"Eighty-five percent of the regulations are OK, we just need to get the other 15 percent changed," Higginson says.

The Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) will also work with small to medium-sized businesses to help them reduce the costs involved in gaining accreditation in basic or advanced fatigue management modules.

As well as the trucking sector, the farming industry has managed to gain a concession, with Daley deciding to make permanent the 160km work diary exemption for farmers.

"After listening to the concerns of industry groups and drivers, I have now made these exemptions permanent," Daley says.

The changes will come into effect once the 12-month exemption ends in September.

The 100km exemption brings NSW into line with the national regulations developed by the NTC. Queensland, however, has set a 200km exemption.

The changes have received broad industry support, as the Road Freight Advisory Council is made up of the Transport Workers’ Union, the LBCA, the NSW Farmers’ Association, the NRMA, trucking operator Ron Finemore and Country Labor.

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