Industry bodies join forces in fatigue rule shakeup

Industry bodies have come together to assist the National Transport Comission (NTC) in assessing two fatigue-related issues within the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).

Industry bodies join forces in fatigue rule shakeup
Is it time for a shakeup of the current HVNL fatigue laws?


The two concerns, brought to the NTC’s attention last year, are transitioning between two-up and solo driving; and managing fatigue outside of participating states.

The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad), the Western Roads Federation and the Northern Territory Road Transport Association have submitted a joint submission to the NTC, citing a lack of clarity within the HVNL.

The National Transport Commission (NTC) issued a Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) Fatigue Issues Discussion Paper in June to assess the views of interested parties relating to the two identified fatigue issues.

NatRoad Chief Executive Warren Clark says the first issue was raised by NatRoad members who were being fined when transitioning from two-up driving back to solo.

"Based on the current law, drivers operating under a two-up arrangement are unable to transition to solo driving unless they are fully compliant with solo work and rest hours or complete a reset rest break of 48 hours plus two consecutive night breaks," Clark explains.

"This means that there is no incentive for drivers to operate under a two-up arrangement.

"We believe a nationally agreed policy or a legislative amendment is needed for regulating work and rest hours when transitioning between two-up and solo driving. 

"Our proposed changes would improve productivity and reduce costs as long-distance trips can be completed in less time," he says.   

Section 245 of the HVNL requires drivers travelling in or out of Western Australia and the Northern Territory within a seven day period to comply with HVNL fatigue laws, something Western Roads Federation Cam Dumesny says causes confusion.

"There is a lot of confusion amongst operators travelling in and out of Western Australia about these requirements," Dumesny says. 

Northern Territory Road Transport Association Executive Officer Louise Bilato says some operators based outside of NT assume that the fatigue requirements when they enter the state are less stringent than the HVNL scheme.

"The NT maintains a performance-based approach to managing driver fatigue under its work health and safety laws," Bilato explains.

"Our submission does not intend to debate whether the HVNL is superior or inferior to the fatigue management requirements in the NT or WA, however, the different interpretations of safe work and rest hours has created considerable administrative complications for the industry and for regulators", she says.

NatRoad hopes the feedback will influence a more appropriate solution to the problem areas, and Clark reminds us the HVNL is due for review later this year.

"Given that the NTC has confirmed a complete review of the HVNL will be commenced later in 2018 and completed by the end of 2019 we anticipate that our feedback and recommendations will be used to inform more effective, interim, arrangements," Clark says.

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator welcomes feedback surrounding the problem areas, highlighting the number of years the current system has been in place.

"We welcome industry feedback on a review of the fatigue provisions of the Heavy Vehicle National Law," an NHVR spokesperson says.

"Fatigue laws haven’t changed for many years and we look forward to receiving feedback from NTC and heavy vehicle industry around these sections of the fatigue laws."

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