This week I will have to trail down to my local Queensland Transport and Main Roads office and hand in my large unwieldy log book (sorry, work diary!) and pay another $20 for a new, redesigned one with a different layout and an unfamiliar look.
Basically, I will be swapping one outdated and oversized book for another. Nothing will change, except unfamiliarity might mean I will make some simple mistake when filling in the book and get pinged for the privilege. This will be to the delight of the enforcement officer and reinforce all of those uncalled-for negative stereotypes we have about roadside enforcement.
Next to my logbook I will have my phone. This is a handy sized piece of equipment with more computing power than was used to land man on the moon. It is nice and compact, easy to use, it knows exactly my whereabouts at all times and it has a clock.
It is also secure, my bank is willing to let me make transactions on it, transferring funds across the world. There are also millions of people all around the world who are designing ever more clever apps for it to help me organise my life, keep up with friends and also post stuff on this very website.
However, it is beyond the capability of the technology and way beyond the knowledge of the app designers to come up with a simple to use way of recording my working and travelling time in a truck, which can also be regarded as a legal document.
On the other hand, there are a queue of electronic technology companies lining up to provide me with a box in the cab which will securely record my every move and provide a foolproof way of ensuring I keep my truck driving well within the hours rules, while also giving the aforementioned enforcement officer an opportunity to fine me for something trivial, from the comfort of his own desk.
So, what is it these technology providers know, which the likes of Samsung, Apple, Sony and Microsoft can’t manage? Why do we have to put even more little boxes in our cabins to suit yet another set of difficult, Australia only, specifications? I might as well be carrying around a laptop sized book, as paying for yet another piece of, soon to be, redundant technology to be fitted onto the truck.
Is it all too hard? Some kind of transponder in the cabin, similar to the chip in your pay wave credit card could surely register when I get into the truck. A similar chip on my license could also identify me as being there. Surely an app on my phone could record and transmit all the other relevant information in a way I can’t tamper with.
All this information can be sent over the airwaves to the authorities. They can receive an alert when I have exceeded my hours. Most importantly, I have my phone with me anyway.
The world has changed. Maybe it’s about time someone told the NHVR, NTC and the State Road Authorities we are now in the 21st century and there is such a thing as a smart phone. We all have our smart phones, now we need some smart regulations.