Stricter driver rules not the answer, TWU states

Union says more stringent fatigue guidelines will make a driver's job harder

Stricter driver rules not the answer, TWU states
Tony Sheldon says the industry must work on finding real solutions to risks associated with fatigue, maintenance, overloaded vehicles and inadequate load restraints.


Creating a new clause relating to duty of drivers in the chain of responsibility (COR) laws will not reduce the number of truck accidents or make the industry safer, the Transport Workers Union (TWU) states.

The union is critical of Australian Trucking Association (ATA’s) recommendation to extend COR rules to ensure drivers do not flout fatigue management guidelines under any circumstances.

The recommendation is part of ATA’s submission on the Heavy Vehicle National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 that is expected to usher many COR reforms.

The union says it is unfair to hold drivers responsible for fatigue as they are often forced to break the rules under duress to meet "unrealistic deadlines".

TWU warns that stricter fatigue rules for drivers will have no effect on the number of truck crashes and in fact end up making their job harder.

"No driver wants to drive long hours and skip breaks causing them to drive tired," TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon says.

"They do it because they or the transport operator employing them are trying to make enough money to meet their costs and put food on the table.

"The source of this pressure is the low cost contracts from wealthy clients which put an impossible financial squeeze on transport.

"The ATA is yet again showing its disregard for truck drivers by holding them entirely responsible for the crisis in the industry."

The union is disillusioned by the role COR laws have played in dealing with problems faced by drivers.

It states that COR rules "do not tackle the economic pressure which force drivers and transport operators to take risks, rather they focus on prosecuting clients and transport operators after a truck crash has taken place".

There have been "few prosecutions of clients resulting in paltry fines under chain of responsibility rules following serious truck crashes involving deaths".

Sheldon says ATA and the rest of the transport industry must work to find "real solutions" to safety risks associated with fatigue, overloaded vehicles, unmaintained vehicles and inadequate load restraints.

"Rather than focusing on prosecuting these breaches when people are killed we need a system which holds clients accountable for the low cost transport contracts which cause the problems," he says.

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