Regulations need to strike a balance between privacy and compliance and enforcement to encourage industry take-up of Electronic Work Diaries (EWDs), says the National Transport Commission (NTC) in a report released for public consultation this week.
The NTC’s Preparing Australia for Electronic Work Diaries Regulatory Issues Paper was developed as a part of an Operational Pilot of Electronic Work Diaries conducted for Transport for NSW by NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) and Transport Certification Australia (TCA).
The pilot operated from 2011 until 2013, to work through operational issues with the technology and develop an approved technical specification.
NTC Chief Executive Paul Retter AM said the NTC’s issues paper examines the regulatory changes required to prepare Australia for the introduction of the technology.
“The widespread, voluntary uptake of Electronic Work Diaries has the capacity to significantly improve road safety, as they can help drivers and operators proactively manage their fatigue obligations in real-time, and additionally help operators to improve operational efficiencies,” said Mr Retter.
“These systems also offer the potential to transform enforcement practices by providing more accurate, current and accessible information.
“However, given that the use of Electronic Work Diaries will be a voluntary alternative for industry, it is critical to ensure regulations provide drivers with confidence that their personal information will be used appropriately. Otherwise we won’t be able to realise the potential safety and productivity benefits of this technology.”
An Electronic Work Diary is a system that can record work and rest times for heavy vehicle drivers, as an alternative to the paper-based diary which is currently used to meet fatigue management obligations.
The NTC is currently calling for public submissions on a range of proposed recommendations presented in the paper, including:
- Updates to several provisions in the Heavy Vehicle National Law to remove ambiguity and to align with the technical and policy outcomes of the recent EWD Pilot
- A ‘privacy by design’ approach when developing the EWD system, which would ensure that privacy protections are integrated into the system, rather than mitigated after the design is finalised
- Addressing compliance and enforcement issues resulting from the transition from paper to electronic work diaries.
“We are interested to hear from operators, drivers, and the wider community on their views on these recommendations and any other issues which they feel need to be addressed to support the voluntary take-up of electronic record keeping,” said Mr Retter.
The NTC report has been released in conjunction with a report on the outcomes of the Operational Pilot of EWDs released by the Transport for NSW, and draft EWD functional and technical specification released by TCA. The NTC’s report should be read in conjunction with these reports.
Following public consultation, the NTC will present final recommendations to the Standing Council on Transport and Infrastructure for approval.