Personal use exemption totally unfair, drivers say

By: Cobey Bartels

Drivers unhappy as exemption excludes those operating under BFM and AFM

Personal use exemption totally unfair, drivers say
The Personal Use Exemption is being called unfair due to the exclusion of BFM and AFM operators.


We received a huge number messages following the announcement of the personal use exemption, after it was discovered the exemption excludes drivers operating under Basic Fatigue Management (BFM) and Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM).

The personal use exemption comes into effect from February 1, allowing operators more flexibility by giving them up to one hour of personal use of their truck outside regulated driving hours.

It was discovered though, after consulting with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), that the exemption excludes drivers operating under BFM and AFM, a point of contention for many.

We took readers' concerns to the regulator who said they were keen to see the laws reviewed.

BFM truckie Trevor Warner told ATN's sister publication Owner//Driver he believes the exemption is ‘totally unfair’, pointing out that he can drive a light vehicle on his break despite having maxed his driving hours.

"I can legally drive an Isuzu FSR700 fully loaded to the shops on my day off, but not a 10 tonne prime mover," Warner says.

"The law still remains that a person can work two part-time jobs, driving a taxi during the day and a heavy vehicle at night, potentially 16-18 hours in a 24-hour period." 

One regional driver running BFM, James Ryan, explains that the only time he has to get things done are during work hours due to businesses generally being closed in his small town on weekends.

"I spend six nights away from home every week and I live in country Victoria, usually departing Sunday afternoon to return home Saturday morning without calling in to home at all during the week," Ryan says.

"Now the problem I have is that I still need to get everyday things done: pay bills, go shopping, see doctors, get haircuts, all those types of things.

"Where I live, most of those things aren’t available on a weekend."

The only solution for Ryan is getting his day-to-day activities done in major cities while on the road. 

"I try to get a few little things done during the week while I’m away in capital cities when I get some spare time, but to access those things I need transport, which is my prime mover.

"As far as I’m concerned, if the truck isn’t being used commercially then surely it shouldn’t matter if you use it for transport, even if it has to be recorded in your book."

It was confirmed by the NHVR that current laws prevent the exemption from being granted to BFM and AFM, however the regulator confirmed they're interested in seeing a review of the current fatigue laws. 

"I’m keen to see a review of the fatigue laws in the near future," NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitt tells us.

The regulator confirmed they’ve spoken to the NTC regarding a fatigue law review. 


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