Non-driving work not recorded in the logbook may be a bigger problem than previously thought, if the claims of outgoing VicRoads chain of responsibility chief are to be believed.
According to Scott Douglas, the biggest fatigue issue is logbook cheating relating to unloading and loading of vehicles.
Douglas is the outgoing head of the CoR investigation team. He says non-driving work is actually a much bigger fatigue concern than actual driving. He explained:
“The biggest issue is the extras”, such as unloading and loading, Scott Douglas says.
Douglas has joined with other road safety experts in calling out fatigue as the biggest culprit in the fight to improve safety in the trucking industry.
Douglas has claimed that over the years, in addition to Victorian Police estimates that prove that one in three fatal truck crashes are linked to fatigue, drivers have told him that this is their main concern.
The downsizing of the COR unit means that Douglas’ days as head of the department are coming to an end but in an interview with ATN which was posted on Fullyloaded.com.au, Douglas explained that drivers had called in complaining about fatigue. Serving his last week in the position, Douglas explained:
“We get calls saying ‘I can’t stay awake anymore, I just can’t do it, but I’ve got to feed the family and I need the job’,” Douglas says.
“They’re the sorts of calls we get, certainly weekly.
“The driving is a major issue, but the biggest issue is the extras, the other work that drivers do, that leads them to breaching the legislation.”
Some of the issues surrounding the fatigue problem include unhooking and hooking of trailers, loading and unloading in particular, which Douglas explains are massive problems.
One Melbourne based Transport company was prosecuted in 2010 due to this issue. The company’s drivers spent hours loading and unloading flowers by hand but this was not recorded in their logbooks. The company was ultimately fined $30,000 and three drivers more than $8,000 between them. The dodgy practices were eventually discovered by an undercover tailing and video operation between Melbourne and Sydney.
Mr Douglas also said that warehouse staff statements also revealed some of these practices and allowed CCTV footage from those days to be pulled and reviewed by VicRoads, allow footage hasn’t been very helpful to date, he explained:
He says warehouse staff statements have been used in prosecutions, and camera footage conceivably could, “but where we’ve looked at it, it hasn’t assisted.
A lot of the problem is that drivers know that road authorities and police have limited resources and so investigations are limited. He concluded by explaining:
“Given how many heavy vehicles and drivers and different locations there are, they probably run the gauntlet, and it’s probably a safe bet, unless, for whatever reason, it comes to the authorities’ attention – for example, if there is a crash.”
Read more at: http://www.fullyloaded.com.au
Those who aren’t aware of what the concept of Chain of Responsibility entails or whether or not they are complying can learn more here.