CHANGE NEEDED: Ken Wilkie says truck drivers in the eastern states should be able to use the WA fatigue management system.
CHANGE NEEDED: Ken Wilkie says truck drivers in the eastern states should be able to use the WA fatigue management system.

National standard for fatigue laws

IT'S time for the eastern states to change their fatigue laws, say the National Road Freighters Association.

Queensland Delegate Ken Wilkie said the organisation had been active about trying to get the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator to adopt the Western Australian fatigue regulations as the national fatigue standard.

He said there were several reasons for the association taking a stand.

"The current requirements are too onerous," he said.

"Record-keeping accuracy expectations are too high and penalties excessive."

Mr Wilkie said there was "considerable belief" by transport drivers and others in the industry that current "rigid demands" and "heavy enforcement" of current law had led to more accidents and forced "self respecting" drivers out of the industry.

The claim by those against the idea, that a change to the WA model would see a worsening of performance, had to do with "drivers being directed by both chain of responsibility aware employers and drivers themselves being too afraid of being breached to deviate from bureaucratic ideals with the consequence that drivers are failing to manage their personal fatigue needs".

Mr Wilkie said the NRFA had seen members breached for 15 minutes driving in excess of the statuary requirements.

That extra 15 minutes was the difference between the driver getting home or having to sleep on the side of the road.

Members had also been breached for parking a heavy vehicle in a built up area, "while the driver spent the night addressing fatigue in a nearby motel".

"Heavy fines, unrealistic expectations, the demeaning actions of law enforcement people, lack of flexibility are all behind our efforts," Mr Wilkie said.

"National Road Freighters is supportive in general of one nation, one set of rules. We cannot support any escalation of breach values as is being pushed through. We will not support any lowering of current special area allowances such as removal of volume loading.

"The brief from government regarding NHVR decreed that no entity was to be worse off as a result of 'one nationing' Australia's transport regulations. That will not be the situation if we do not stand and be counted."

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