Something published this week by the Queensland Government, suggests that the people charged with actually building and designing our roads are finally waking up to fatigue. The other side of Transport and Main Roads in Queensland has been on the case for many years, helping develop the first Fatigue Management Program back in the nineties.
The message seems to have finally got through to the people on the next floor of the TMR office building, where parking bays are planned out by road builders. Hopefully, the message is gradually filtering through in all of the states in Australia, none of whom do a particularly good job of it.
One of the biggest problems for truck drivers on the road, those who are diligently trying to manage their fatigue, is the one they face several nights a week. Namely, finding somewhere decent to park the truck and get some quality rest.
The road builders are not very good at building parking bays as a rule. The area may well be perfect to park a car or even a camper van, but often can be a little squeezy when trying park a fully loaded B-double.
Most of the parking bays the truck can get into with relative ease are often also those with facilities which are minimal or non-existent. They will rarely have shade, can often be very noisy at night and often have a camber to make sleeping in the bunk uncomfortable.
On the evidence of the vast majority of truck parking bays on the highways of Australia, it is pretty clear that truck parking is one of the lowest priorities for those designing and maintaining parking areas.
Back on the other floor at TMR HQ, the compliance teams and roadside inspections teams are prioritising fatigue issues and pinging truck drivers for breaches of the rules.
The fact that many of those breaches came from a driver trying to get to a location where they could get good rest is ignored. The fact that the parking bays are full of caravan and camper vans parking without consideration for truckies and taking up areas where trucks could park is never mentioned.
Other breaches come from a driver being unable to rest properly because they end up in an uneven parking bay five metres from the side of a major highway, or next to a livestock trailer full of moving cattle.
The TMR have taken on this issue at last and created the poster featured at the beginning of this article. There is movement, but how long until this thinking trickles down through the system and an improved parking culture helps truckies get proper rest?