Not paid for waiting means a longer wait for truck drivers: Study

By: Steve Skinner, Photography by: Peter Morris

Study concludes that long distance drivers on trip rates who are not paid for waiting, loading and unloading suffer when it comes to fatigue and family.

Not paid for waiting means a longer wait for truck drivers: Study
University of New South Wales professor Ann Williamson.


A study of Australian truck drivers confirms what most in the transport industry already know: long distance drivers who are not paid per hour are on a hard road in life.

The academic study has never before been reported in the media.

It has disturbing implications for the chain of responsibility on fatigue and is directly relevant to the current deliberations of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT).

No-one will be surprised by the study’s implication that if customers do not have to pay drivers to wait around, they will keep them waiting longer.

"The findings suggest that mandating payment of drivers for non-driving work, including waiting, would reduce the amount of non-driving work required for drivers and reduce weekly hours of work," the study’s authors, professor Ann Williamson and Dr Rena Friswell, say.

"In turn this would reduce driver fatigue and safety risk as well as enhancing the efficiency of the long distance road transport industry."

Meanwhile the study concludes that drivers on trip based pay are no better off financially than drivers on hourly rates, despite on average working an extra eight hours a week – a day’s work for most people.

And those extra hours – often taking drivers beyond the legal limits – come with "adverse consequences for road safety".

"The results suggest either that trip rates paid in eastern Australia should include better allowance for the amount of non-driving time, or that trip rates should be avoided in the interests of safety," the study says.

What makes these conclusions even more significant is the fact that Williamson — the study’s lead author — is a part-time member of the RSRT.

Williamson is from the Transport and Road Safety Research group at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

Williamson and her UNSW colleague Dr Rena Friswell had their study published in the international journal Accident Analysis and Prevention in 2013.

It seems that as far as the trucking industry is concerned, mandatory paid waiting times is one of the least controversial measures being considered by the RSRT.

Even NatRoad, which is vehemently opposed to the very existence of the tribunal, supports mandatory waiting payments by distribution centres.

The mandatory demurrage concept has been bandied about since the inception of the tribunal in mid-2012, but in July 2013 all a draft order said on the issue was this: "A hirer must pay a contractor driver engaged by them a reasonable amount for work."

Even that bland statement didn’t make it into the subsequent enforceable road safety remuneration order later in 2013.

There were more conferences and reports touching on the issue last year, and a spokeswoman for tribunal president Jennifer Acton tells ATN: "Details of further proceedings in relation to payments for road transport drivers and associated issues will be published on the tribunal’s website.

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