A combination of NatRoad, the Western Roads Federation and the Northern Territory Road Transport Association are working together fighting fatigue anomalies in the West. The three organisations have made a joint submission to the National Transport Commission (NTC) on two fatigue-related issues where the group reckon there is a lack of clarity in the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).
One of the problems being encountered occurs when drivers transition across from running two-up to driving solo. When going from one mode to the other, the driver has to be able to demonstrate they were compliant with solo driving regulations even when they were driving two-up.
“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. This means that there is no incentive for drivers to operate under a two-up arrangement,” said Warren Clark, NatRoad CEO.
“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.”
There is another issue for drivers when they travel in or out of Western Australia or the Northern Territory. The HVNL’s section 245 states drivers must be compliant with the laws current in the Eastern States even when travelling in the west and north if it is within a seven day period of entering or leaving the states, which are still outside the jurisdiction of the HVNL.
“There is a lot of confusion amongst operators travelling in and out of Western Australia about these requirements,” said Cam Dumesny, Western Roads Federation CEO.
Louise Bilato, Executive Officer of the Northern Territory Road Transport Association, explained, some operators who are not based in the NT assume that the fatigue requirements when they enter the NT are less stringent than what is required under the HVNL, which is not the case.
“The NT maintains a performance-based approach to managing driver fatigue under its work health and safety laws. 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”, said Louise.
Western Australia’s fatigue management regime stands outside the HVNL using criteria based on work health and safety as well as transport law for heavy vehicle drivers. It is mandatory that all transport operators who travel into WA have WA Heavy Vehicle Accreditation (WAHVAS), including fully compliant third-party audits.
“We recognise that WAHVAS and NHVAS fatigue modules are compliant systems in their own right and drivers can continue to operate under them when they cross borders into the WA or the NT,” said Louise. “However, if drivers operating under those systems choose to no longer adhere to them when crossing borders into WA or the NT then they must have an alternate safety management system in place to demonstrate how fatigue risk is mitigated. Repeal of section 245 would not remove this obligation.”
These issues and many other continue to illustrate the ongoing problems around fatigue management for trucks in Australia. Operators and drivers are dealing with sets of laws which are complex in themselves. This complexity is added to by the fact there are three separate regimes in place, one in the east and two in the west. These issues are further evidence of the need for an overarching review of the way fatigue regulations work in Australia.
“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,” said Warren Clark, NatRoad CEO.