Although Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory have all adopted the measure, with Tasmania due to implement it on March 30, Victorian transport authorities are worried that the 160km work diary exemption may undermine fatigue management laws.
According to reports, the Victoria is still resisting the implementation of a work diary exemption for truck drivers which would minimise their paperwork and improve their productivity. Victoria is concerned that adopting the exemption may lead to a fatigue manage risk. Now the adoption of the exemption in Victoria is uncertain.
In an article on OwnerDriver.com.au, the VicRoad director Andrew Wall was interviewed. He stated that the department was in the process of seeking advice from fatigue management experts about the implications of the exemption. The measure would exempt truck drivers carrying out primary production work within 160km of their base of operations from completing a work diary.
Mr Wall stated:
“While the extension of the exemption to 160km may be appropriate for jurisdictions with large remote areas, VicRoads is concerned that there may be increased risk of driver fatigue impacting on road safety,” Wall says.
“VicRoads is also concerned that the proposed extension would apply to a significant sector of the road transport task which would undermine the value of the current requirements for heavy vehicle drivers to complete a work diary and that it may be interpreted as applying to a range of tasks further down the transport chain, such as the transport of grain between silos or to a port, or the transport of primary produce to a market or distribution centre.”
Currently VicRoads is consulting the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) in dealing with its concerns.
The Livestock and Rural Transporters Association of Victoria (LRTAV) president John Beer was also quoted in the OwnerDriver.com.au article. He stated last week that the Victorian Government should move into line with other jurisdictions and adopt the measure. He said he would be pushing for the exemption at a roundtable meeting of industry and government representatives held on February 19.
Beer believes that adopting the 160km exemption will have a huge impact on transporters involved in primary production work. He highlighted the merit of the measure, outlining his particular situation and how the exemption would help him personally,
“I’m at Romsey, which is approximately 50-60km out of Melbourne. We cart a lot of cattle to Shepparton to the market there. We wouldn’t have to touch a book [if the 160km exemption was introduced]. We would have to keep records at home but we wouldn’t have to fill out a work diary,” Beer says.
Having one less issue to worry about when they are behind the wheel, would mean that drivers can concentrate on the more crucial matters such as road safety.
Beer went on to state:
“You’re all the time worried about making sure you’re up to date with your book with breaks and all that stuff, that’s all,” Beer says.
“I reckon it will make it a lot easier.”
At the moment all truck drivers in Victoria are required to fill out a diary if they work 100km beyond their base. The Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) is one of the associations who have been lobbying to have the exemption introduced nationally. According to the ALRTA 160km is ideal for rural carriers who have to cover a wider area than city-based drivers.