Electronic Work Diaries may do more harm than good, according to a leading researcher from The University of New South Wales.
Professor Ann Williamson was speaking at the latest Australasian Road Safety Conference in Canberra recently when she highlighted that Electronic Work Diaries (EWD) would put more stress on drivers instead of addressing the real issue, fatigue.
She said the EWDs were going to fail, unless the trucking industry was also reformed because EWDs are not the main issue. According to Williamson, the economic pressures in the industry were the real problem.
Professor Williamson went on to state:
“There’s nothing wrong with electronic work diaries in themselves, but I don’t think they are going to solve any problems when the problems are about the way work is done in the industry,”
“There’s no point in putting electronic diaries in trucks where the truck drivers are being motivated to push the envelope.
“It won’t work, it puts extra pressure on and is just doomed to fail.
Williamson said the concern is that this will become the main focus of enforcement for truck drivers.
The professor went on to add that the Electronic Work Diaries may put added pressure and stress on drivers that are already under enough pressure to be on time because of the consequences of being late. She explains:
“I think that has a real danger that it will just add to the stress and the tension that drivers already experience about ‘I’m late, my customers are waiting for me, but damn, the logbook is coming up as well and they will know that I’m two minutes over – or 10 minutes over if you have an 8-minute leeway – and I’ll be in trouble for it’.
As Williamson explained, the EWDs wont help when the reason the driver is late is because of traffic and will put more pressure on them together with the realities of doing the job in the first place, for this reason Williamson said she didn’t believe the EWDs would work.
The professor also added that while tougher enforcement in general was acceptable, it wouldn’t tackle the root economic pressures behind excessive hours, speeding and lack of vehicle maintenance.
One of the suggestions made by Williamson is the return of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal. She was a part-time member of the tribunal.
Williamson was awarded the annual top prize for road safety professionals as the director of the Transport and Road Safety Research Centre at the University of NSW.
She has been researching fatigue and other trucking issues for the past few decades.