Transporters flag road carnage risk from border ban advice


Fear of fatigued returning Victorian travellers rushing back to Victoria

Transporters flag road carnage risk from border ban advice
A potentially deadly combination for all concerned when motorist fatigue is involved

 

The risk of fatigued Victorian holidaymakers causing chaos on roads between Queensland and their destinations has put country transporters at loggerheads with the Victorian Department of Health.

The department has offered advice to those returning to the state from north of the Murray River on the need for a permit and how to avoid quarantine.

But the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association of Australia (ALRTA), Livestock and Rural Transporters Association of Victoria (LRTAV) and the Livestock and Bulk Carriers Association of New South Wales (LBRCA) have urged drivers returning to Victoria via New South Wales not to compromise road safety in order to comply with Covid-19 rules.

The issue emerges as a three-day lockdown is imposed for greater Brisbane area from
6pm Friday to 6pm Monday over the threat of a more easily transmissible strain of the virus.

The Queensland Trucking Association (QTA) advises that freight and logistics remains an essential service but all conditions in the Queensland Freight Protocol must be followed.

The Victorian Department of Health has taken to social and other media to say: "You must keep a record of locations where you have stopped for breaks in NSW and monitor for symptoms of Covid-19.

"If you have symptoms, get tested and stay home until you receive a negative result.

"You are not required to quarantine for 14 days if you have followed the rules for transiting through NSW.

"These rules include minimising stops and contact with others, wearing a mask when outside your vehicle at all times.

"If you are travelling to Victoria from QLD and wish to stay overnight in NSW to break your journey you will be required to apply for an exemption."

But the message holds a red flag in an industry well aware of the dangers of driver fatigue.

The organisations are united in their belief that that the Victorian health advice and permit system will encourage unsafe driving behaviours.  

"At this time of year many Victorians travel north into NSW and Queensland to visit relatives or enjoy a holiday," LRTAV president David Rogers says.

"After the year we have just endured this is quite understandable.

"However, while holidays are a great change of pace they typically also involve more eating, drinking, socialising, sun exposure and recreational activities which can induce fatigue.

"It is important that drivers are mindful of these factors and do not push their limits when driving home.

"The Victorian health advice to minimise rest breaks is potentially very dangerous.

"On top of this, many drivers will be stressed about the prospect of being denied an exemption to enter Victoria if do they need to rest overnight in NSW. The last thing governments should be doing is discouraging rest or increasing stress on drivers," he said.

The associations urge drivers to assess their own capabilities and plan journeys accordingly.
 
"It is a sad fact that road crash statistics increase when inexperienced drivers travel during holiday periods," LBRCA president Paul Pulver says. 

"NSW is a big state. It is around 1,000km by road from the Queensland to Victorian borders – a 12 hour trip with short rest breaks – and that doesn’t include any additional driving at either end. 

"Not everyone is capable of driving this distance in a single shift and individual circumstances can be very different.  Those who are inexperienced, loaded with luggage, towing a trailer, travelling with children or experiencing a health condition have good reason to be cautious.

"With increased traffic volumes on the road there is little room for error.

"I can appreciate that drivers need to be Covid Safe, but we cannot undermine the important road safety message that governments and community advocates have been promoting for the past two decades.

"Instead of discouraging rest, governments should be suggesting safer routes and safer rest stops where people are able to socially distance."


Read about concerns on conflicting Covid rules earlier in the pandemic, here


 

ALRTA national president Scott McDonald said that drivers can plan safe journeys, rest when necessary and be Covid Safe.

"Professional truck drivers who travel long distances are fatigue regulated and must take mandatory rest breaks which may include overnight stays," McDonald adds.

"Since early 2020, interstate truck drivers have also been required to undergo regular Covid-19 testing and adhere to a Covid-Safe plan.
 
"During this time there has been no known Covid-19 transmission events linked to freight movements. It is absolutely possible to be Covid Safe without compromising road safety.
 
"For those who are unaccustomed to driving long distances it is even more important to plan safe journeys and rest whenever necessary.
 
"I call on the Victorian Government to refocus public messages and resources around how to be Covid Safe without compromising road safety."

 

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