Toll questions lack of cab cooling rules

By: Steve Skinner

Senior Toll manager laments the lack of an Australian Design Rule on cab sleeper berth cooling

Toll questions lack of cab cooling rules
Ideal for long distance drivers: an air-conditioned bunk room at Toll’s Dubbo facility


Transport giant Toll has linked the chain of responsibility on fatigue with government rules on truck cab sleepers.

As Toll points out, neither the Australian Design Rule nor Australian Vehicle Standard specify cooling systems for approved sleeper berths.

Toll linehaul and fleet services general manager Bob Lovf says approved sleeper cabs might therefore "tick the boxes" on chain of responsibility, even though they don’t have air cooling.

Lovf asks: "Is it the best we can do for our drivers?"

ATN was interviewing Lovf in the context of Toll’s $1.3 million changeover facility for its shuttle drivers next to Inland Truck Centres at Dubbo, halfway between Melbourne and Brisbane on the Newell Highway.

ATN recently visited the complex, where 20 Toll drivers from Brisbane and Melbourne change over and have their long break.

There are 24 airconditioned and sound-proofed bunk rooms; male and female bathrooms; large kitchen and dining room; lounge room and a nice outside BBQ area.

"If you were spending 14 hours a day in an office environment it’s tiring on people so what’s it like out there on the roads?" Lovf asks.

"There’s not many people that are built to do 14 hours a day, so bringing them back into what I call 12 hour shifts and having them in proper accommodation is what we have targeted."

(The shuttle drivers are on 14-hour logbooks in case of delays or having to swap trucks.)

Previously at Dubbo, Toll rented two houses and eight permanent motel rooms, with drivers swapping over on the side of the Newell Highway.

Toll hopes the new Dubbo changeover complex will be a model for future expansion of its network, and help its status as an "employer of choice".

ATN asks how come subbies don’t get to enjoy those conditions at Dubbo or at the giant new Eastern Creek site in Sydney or at Tullamarine near Melbourne airport when it’s opened?

"It is a good question," Lovf says. "Subcontractors do the loads for us but they do run independent.

"Most of the contractors we have don’t run both ways for us.

"If they were dedicated two-way runners it’s a little bit different, but the one-out runners we have, they’ve got other things to do and go and do them."

Toll has no company-wide policy on bunk air cooling or conditioning for subbie’s prime movers.

ATN asks Lovf if customers are prepared to pay a premium to know Toll’s company drivers are being so well looked after at places like Dubbo, or does the chain of responsibility message still have a long way to filter through?

"From my point of view, at the present time dollar is king," Lovf laments.

"They acknowledge it but it’s difficult for them in their own minds to justify payment for it."

Check out the full feature in the February issue of ATN.



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