Getting a little personal time

ADDING UP: Getting an extra hour for personal use at the end of a long day will give drivers a little flexibility.
ADDING UP: Getting an extra hour for personal use at the end of a long day will give drivers a little flexibility.

YOU drive a truck from one side of the country to the other, you pull up in the markets, swing the doors open, forklifts roar with the stink of gas, the load is coming off.

It could be tropical fruit from Queensland soon to be displayed in Melbourne's grocery stores, it could be citrus from Western Australia to put a smile on children's faces in Sydney.

The freight could be any one of a thousand things, the necessities of life.

You the driver, or me, has squeezed in driving times, made the unloading slot. You open the log book and are out of time. Do the addition, subtraction, scratch the lines and sign the page.

According to the work diary we are out of hours. Get out of the truck, stretch, stack the boards and pogo sticks in the fridge ready for loading, slam the door shut.

You know that to drive down the road to find somewhere to camp, get that seven hours the logbook has promised, is fraught with the dangers of an enforcement officer checking the logbook and the possible infringement is worth several hundred dollars, the best part of a week's wages down the drain.

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator has called for submissions from drivers, owner-drivers and fleet owners for comment on the introduction of getting up to one hour driving time when a driver is out of legal time.

This extra hour is only, so the proposal goes, for personal use.

NHVR boss Sal Petroccitto announced the proposal and call for submissions from the NatRoad conference at Hamilton Island.

It is called a "personal use exemption” and is intended to allow operators some personal use of the heavy vehicle outside regulated driving hours.

"Under the proposal operators would be able to use a heavy vehicle for personal use for up to one hour at the end of the day or on a day off,” Mr Petroccitto said from the tropical retreat.

New South Wales already has a one-hour personal use exemption and the NHVR is attempting to bring it into reality in all states which have signed up to Heavy Vehicle National Law.

At this stage the idea is only in industry consultation and "we continue to work closely with the heavy vehicle industry to provide flexibility around fatigue while still maintaining the highest safety standards,” Mr Petroccitto said.

Submissions will be received for a month.

The NHVR has announced that it would have a 'Focus on Fatigue' initiative over the coming month.

This announcement demonstrates how the NHVR has total dependence on the work diary as the best way to predict and assess a driver's potential level of fatigue impairment.

During this 'Focus on Fatigue' month, "there will also be a number of coordinated enforcement operations taking place across the country in the coming weeks with a specific target on work and rest areas and the correct filling out of a work diary.”

Sounds to Big Rigs that a blitz is descending on an industry that many would consider already over enforced.

Topics:  fatigue management feedback nhvr submissions truck

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