New research monitoring truck drivers in their real life shifts to determine the effects of complicated fatigue rules on them, has been hailed by the ATA as a means to improve safety.
The Co-operative Research Centre for Alertness, Safety and Productivity, the National Transport Commission, road agencies, police and industry are working together in the joint initiative.
The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) is a member of the project steering committee which prompted ATA Chair Noelene Watson to comment on the issue. She explained,
“The Heavy Vehicle National Law fatigue rules are complex, with detailed provisions about how to count work and rest time and overlapping 24 hour counting periods. Complying with the rules is stressful for drivers and operators, because of the risk of making a mistake,”
“And despite the complexity of the rules, there is only limited evidence available about their impact on driver fatigue and safety.
Mrs Watson highlighted the issues relating to the “nose-to-tail” schedules which led some state enforcement agencies to call for changes to the rules.
In 2014 the ATA said there wasn’t enough evidence about the practice for an informed decision to be made by governments but with this research project, more will become known about the issue.
Mrs Watson went on to state,
“The ATA also considers that the research needs to cover the quantity and quality of sleep that drivers get during major rest breaks, including the benefits of allowing split rest so drivers can move their trucks to a quieter spot after buying food or having a shower.
“In addition, there needs to be more research into short rest breaks and electronic work diary tolerances, as well as fatigue issues relating to regional and remote operation.”
She also went on to challenge the TWU to re-evaluate it’s opposition to the research, a position it adopted because the project does not involve reinstating the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal. She called on the TWU to join the ATA and get involved in this initiative which the federal government has committed more than $800,000 to.
“The TWU has announced that it opposes this research, basically because it does not involve re?establishing the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal,” she said.
“But fatigue experts agree that more research is needed into the effect of the fatigue rules. The research will improve safety – and help make sure the rules are no more complicated than is absolutely necessary.
“I call on the TWU to join the ATA in supporting the expert researchers involved in this project,” she said.