On the evidence of the latest release by the National Transport Commission, many in trucking could be ploughing through fatigue issues for some time if they want to influence the reformed Heavy Vehicle National Law. The second of eight issues papers has been released this week and amounts to 56 pages of dense data to plough through to grasp the NTC’s intentions.
In last week’s Diesel News, I highlighted the need for the industry to get involved in the process, it is the ‘chance of a lifetime’. Now the first of the substantial downloads is available and open for comment. This means anyone who’s job does not allow for days and days of reading and research is going to have little opportunity to get a real handle on what the law developers are thinking and where they need guidance.
If the issue of fatigue creates this much paperwork, then how much more is going to be laid out for consideration of all of the other topics to be covered? The issues like access, vehicle safety, accreditation, compliance and several more are equal to and as complex as fatigue. There is going to be a lot more paper to plough through.
Yes, the industry associations are designed and built to go through these kinds of discussion papers and have the personnel to come up with a reply which can answer questions relatively comprehensively. This does give some insight from a trucking point of view back to the NTC, but is this really enough? What about the view from the drivers themselves?
On the HVNL website there is a survey drivers can fill in and a place for comments. For those comments to be in context and have some impact they need to come from someone informed around the issue. If not, then the comments are likely to be off the mark and may well be disregarded.
Therefore, to get some real feedback from people on the ground living our fatigue regime every day of the week, we need to get the gist of what the NTC are considering into some form of manageable presentation which is easily digestible to a driver in one sitting. Then comments coming in from the coalface should be targeted and useful to the process of coming up with a truly effective national law for trucking.
If the way the HVNL reform is presented precludes the process using input from those most affected by the changes in the law, we are then just using an echo chamber to get a result. If the only people listened to are those with the resources to research the issue and come up with a submission, we are creating a feedback loop.
The HVNL does need substantial reform and there are more than 250,000 subject matter experts out on the roads of Australia, who may or may not get heard. The NTC is trying to get its message out there and get some realistic feedback, but it is not making it very easy for the humble truckie to improve the fatigue rules under which they work.