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Queensland to fine motorists taking up heavy vehicle space

Fatigue management gets priority as state government advises holiday makers to keep out of heavy vehicle rest areas

 

With Covid restrictions looking to ease, Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) has strengthened its stance on motorists taking up space in heavy vehicle specific rest areas, introducing new rules to ensure those sites are used for fatigue management only.

TMR says the state has around 450 rest areas, which are a mixture of motorist, heavy vehicle and combined motorists and heavy vehicle rest areas.

However, around 115 of those locations are for heavy vehicle stopping only. Another 50 sites are designated as combined motorist and heavy vehicle rest areas.

According to TMR, the changes clarify the requirements for rest area use and camping on the state-controlled road network, including fines for light vehicle drivers using heavy vehicle-only areas.

“Truck drivers need to be able to rest in the heavy vehicle rest areas – they should not be used by other motorists, or to stop and camp,” TMR advises.

“Fines may apply if you are not driving a commercial or heavy vehicle and you are found using a heavy vehicle rest area.

“These fines are in place to make sure truck drivers get to take their legislated rest breaks when using Queensland roads.”

TMR also points out that general and recreational vehicles can stop at an applicable rest area for up to 20 hours unless signed otherwise, but they are not camping sites or an accommodation option.

The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) welcomes the Queensland announcement, and says the new rules address unlawful camping by non-heavy vehicle drivers, such as ‘grey nomads’ and backpackers along state-controlled roads and prohibit long-term camping of these road users on the state-controlled road network.

It adds the changes simplify the rules about rest areas to ensure they are only used to manage driver fatigue.

In particular, NatRoad notes the amendments ensure that commercial heavy vehicle drivers can stop and rest safely, although enforcement of the law will remain important. 

“Heavy vehicle rest areas are in effect part of freight drivers workplaces,” NatRoad CEO Warren Clark says.

“They are required by law to take fatigue breaks and rest areas must be available for this purpose. 

“We know grey nomads and backpackers often want to use these rest areas, but when they do, they are poorly affecting road safety and should instead find their way to designated camping sites.”  

To ensure awareness of the improved rules, an education campaign has commenced, NatRoad advises, with the approach to enforcement to involve education, formal warnings and fines as a last resort – but this element of the new approach will be vital in assisting heavy vehicle drivers.

The association also calls on all state and territory governments to follow Queensland’s lead and take action to ensure that heavy vehicle rest areas are available to commercial heavy vehicle drivers only so that they can effectively manage their fatigue and comply with their legal work and rest obligations.

 

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