The Challenges Standing in the Way of Effective Fatigue Management 

The Challenges Standing in the Way of Effective Fatigue Management 


Fatigue is an ever-present challenge for the transport industry. Long hours on the road can impair judgement and slow reaction times, putting your drivers and the community at risk. Transport for NSW says fatigue-related crashes are twice as likely to be fatal while the Transport Accident Commission shows drivers that are awake longer than 24 hours’ drive like someone with a blood alcohol limit twice the legal amount.

The Challenges Standing in the Way of Effective Fatigue Management 

Impending changes to Chain of Responsibility (CoR) laws make it clear that everyone in the supply chain has an obligation to effectively manage fatigue – from executives, fleet managers and allocators to the drivers themselves. To do this, transport businesses need to move away from paper-based processes and implement electronic tools to proactively manage fatigue compliance.

Ad-hoc Job Scheduling

Asking a driver to pick up an extra job that wasn’t part of a scheduled run may seem like a harmless request, but it puts them at risk of exceeding maximum work hours. To avoid this, schedulers require full visibility into a driver’s availability at any time before assigning an extra job. With an Electronic Work Diary (EWD) work and rest times are captured from the driver, providing schedulers with a real-time view into fatigue status and available hours.

Lack of Training

Heavy vehicle drivers have a responsibility to know their work and rest obligations, but without ongoing training it can be challenging to reinforce the importance of fatigue management. Regular sessions to update drivers will give them the information they need to manage their own compliance obligations. It’s also a chance to emphasise the importance of accurate records, outline the different duties of everyone in the chain and let drivers voice any concerns in a comfortable environment.

Inadequate Record Keeping

Under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL), transport operators are required to keep records for their drivers. This means having each driver’s diary pages on hand, as well as other points of reference, like trip sheets and toll dockets. With paper-based diaries, it’s common to find sheets missing, while others are lost, damaged, forged or tampered with. For a fleet of hundreds of vehicles, this is a huge administrative burden. Supplementing work diaries with electronic work records is crucial to minimise audit risk and easily pull up historical and up-to-date reports.

Not Documenting Everything

If a driver is regularly breaching sign-posted speeds or violating a fatigue rule, the first step is to speak with them one-on-one. Unfortunately, many operators forget to record non-conformance reports, leaving both the driver and the company at risk. The new CoR laws will allow enforcement to investigate without an incident to occur, and they may ask for policies and procedures with regards to fatigue and compliance. Formal, dated records are required – capturing these electronically makes it possible to pull up historical information at a moment’s notice, saving time and stress.

Around 20 per cent of fatal accidents involve driver fatigue, so there’s no question it’s a serious issue. The best way to keep drivers safe (and your business compliant) is to maintain accurate electronic records and embrace automated solutions that don’t leave any room for error.