There is a smidgen of hope in the ongoing war between caravans and trucks, a sliver of light that there may be some initiative to improve the situation and make life for the fatigued truck driver just a little easier.
The big issue for trucks is the way caravaners and other travelling tourists will take up vital spots in truck rest areas leaving no space for drivers who have to take their long break to comply with fatigue rules. This is an ongoing source of tension between the two competing groups as Diesel News has highlighted in the past.
The facts of the matter are that road authorities build specific areas for truck parking at rest stops and put up signage telling people the area is for trucks to use. The problem arises, especially around the peak holiday periods, when there are lots of caravans on the major highways, who ignore the signage and clog up truck parking bays
Transport for NSW has announced that it will be trialling changes to parking in two Pacific Highway rest areas in northern NSW to ensure spaces are available for all drivers to rest and manage their fatigue. Changes will include the enforcement of fines for light vehicles parked in heavy vehicle spaces and four hour timed restrictions for light vehicle drivers.
The two rest areas identified by TfNSW are both on the Pacific Highway, the Yelgun rest area, north of Brunswick Heads, and Arrawarra rest area, north of Coffs Harbour. Diesel News can attest from personal experience to the issues in both these areas when trying to park up a truck for a rest
Rest area parking restrictions have been introduced in the two locations and the Acting Director Northern, Vicky Sisson from Transport for NSW said rest areas are provided to improve road safety and reduce the risk of fatigue for all drivers.
“Heavy vehicle drivers are required by law to take mandatory rest breaks, and because of their size are limited to where they can travel, so it is important that heavy vehicle drivers are able to access dedicated parking spaces to manage their fatigue,” said Vicky. “Light vehicles (passenger and commercial vehicles less than 12 tonnes) will not be permitted to park in heavy vehicle spaces in these two locations and penalties will apply.
“A four hour parking limit will also be trialled in the general vehicle parking spaces. This time limit allows adequate time for light vehicle motorists to rest.
“We want everyone to remember that rest areas are a shared facility, this trial aims to accommodate the needs of all road users and help everyone on the road manage their fatigue. We encourage all drivers to plan their journey and make sure they’re well rested before they head off. For longer trips share the driving if possible, and plan regular breaks. If you need to pull over and rest, a short 15 to 20 minute nap works best,” said Vicky.
The trial will run for six months. Monitoring will be carried out and considered as part of any future roll out.