The introduction of electronic work diaries is set to see the arrival of an eight minute period of grace, an allowance for miscalculation by the driver in each 24 hour period. Paul Retter, CEOP of the National Transport Commission has been explaining the consequences of the proposed rule in his message this week.
“Truck drivers who choose to use an EWD instead of a paper based diary won’t be fined for small, low-risk breaches of less than eight minutes,” said Retter. “This new eight minute rule will not apply to rest time and drivers will have a total of eight minutes across a 24 hour period, starting from a major rest break.
“This means a driver who exceeds work time by five minutes in the first period of work may only exceed work time by up to three minutes for the rest of that 24-hour period, unless the driver makes up for the five minutes at a later time in that day. This is intended to make it impractical to deliberately schedule the additional eight minutes as work time.”
This allowance has been brought in to reflect the current situation, in the work diary, where drivers record working and resting periods in 15 minute blocks. The EWD will record the precise time when the driver changes over from rest to work, to the minute.
The NTC suggest the introduction of the EWD will free up driver time, normally spent filling out work diaries. Whether the eight minutes leeway is going to be sufficient is difficult to assess. If truck drivers find the limits of exact time keeping, even with an eight minute buffer, difficult to handle, there may resistance to migrating across to the new technology.