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EWD choices divide driving ranks

EWD-teletrac

Victorian livestock truckie Daniel Thomas just wanted answers to some basic questions. His employer of the past eight years was installing a Teletrac Navman EWD – the first of four systems now approved by the NHVR as voluntary alternatives to the paper work diary – but no one could allay Thomas’s concerns.

For example, would the hour’s grace period livestock drivers have to get to a safe spot to unload still apply when using an EWD?

What happens to the clock when the satellite drops out?

And perhaps most importantly of all, would it be counting minute-by-minute, or in 15-minute blocks?

Frustrated by the lack of clarity at every turn, Thomas reluctantly quit earlier this month, and now drives a truck and dog for a Kyneton garden supplier.

“It breaks my heart leaving because I found a job that I enjoy doing, but I just feel that it’s all going to be put back on the driver,” said Thomas.

“You’ll be on the side of the Hume Highway with a load of cattle on and trucks whizzing past you because the logbook [EWD] says I was out of hours.”

Thomas said he’s supportive of the technology in principle – “it’ll iron out a few problems” – but fears, such as those he has above, have driven a massive wedge in the industry.

“I know of 12 livestock operators who all gave their notice at Christmas time…it’s just the way the industry is going.”

Others agreed with Thomas about this divisive issue when we first posted the news on bigrigs.com.au of MTData’s Talon and Swift system getting the NHVR tick for use from January 18.

Wrote Dave Wiggs: “Watch a lot more operators hang up the boots. It’s just not worth it anymore.”

Added David Macdonald: “I would not be surprised if shortly the EWD will email the NHVR when a breach has occurred so you can be fined automatically.”

But for every detractor, the EWD alternative also has just as many fans.

James Mullany tell us on Facebook that his company uses the NHVR-approved Teletrac Navman Sentinel EWD on BFM and it “works fine”.

“You can take your break anytime you want it within the first six hours of shift, or drive for six, have an hour break then drive another six. Logs where and when and spells it correctly, which is handy.”

Mullany adds that it’s a total information system that’s linked back to base about what the truck does.

“I also fill out my paper logs at the end of shift to reflect the EWD info; takes 10 minutes.”

Aside from the Sentinel and MTData’s system, truckies also now have the choice of Step Global’s Smart eDriver app and Netstar’s Garmin Fleet 7XX Series which came in to play from January 11.

NHVR Chief Regulatory Policy & Standards Officer Don Hogben said the EWD remains a voluntary alternative to the Written Work Diary.

According to the NHVR, the introduction of EWDs means drivers can record their work and rest hours by pressing a button, rather than spending time ruling lines and counting multiple time periods on multiple pieces of paper.

“It’s important that drivers ensure they’re using an approved EWD, which will have a unique identification number,” added Hogben.

“Drivers must continue to carry their Written Work Diary for a transition period, to ensure that they comply with the requirement of carrying 28 days of records.”

Any issues with EWDs may be reported to the NHVR by phone or using a website form at www.nhvr.gov.au/contact-us.

To stay up to date with approved EWDs and their conditions of use visit www.nhvr.gov.au/ewd.

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