CHAIR: Jacquelene Brotherton.
CHAIR: Jacquelene Brotherton. File Photo

OPINION: Time to take a look at all of our habits

FATIGUE and ways to manage it remains a key focus for the heavy vehicle industry, it is time to look hard at the current fatigue laws and work/rest requirements and question whether they are really working to deliver safety benefits for drivers and other road users.

We also need to look at the driving habits of ordinary drivers.

Surely it is unfair to focus on only one sector of society when fatigue affects everyone.

I know many car drivers take to the highway after working a full work week, and then drive all night, so they can get to their holiday or weekend destination and make the most of their time away.

I know because I have been guilty of this myself.

Luckily for me, the years in the industry have taught me when to pull over for a rest, and I have never used cruise control so I know if I start to slow down, it is definitely time to get off the road and sleep.

Unfortunately it is human nature to push on. In the trucking industry we are often forced to do so, due to the lack of rest areas, or safe places to pull off the road, or because we are trying to work to a Work Diary and its scheduled rest breaks.

When we have more rest areas with proper facilities, and flexible (not more) driving hours, we may see a better result, at least with single heavy vehicle accidents.

We, as an industry will probably always be held accountable for the actions of others in multi-vehicles accidents, until they are investigated independently, as put forward by the Australian Trucking Association.

To reduce fatigue and accidents on our roads we need to build more, and better rest areas, educate everyone to share the road safely, and to start this education in high schools.

We need to listen to the industry more about what needs to be done.

Decision makers need to spend more on the road doing ride-alongs with truck drivers to see what really happens on our roads, and there are many transport companies and associations who can make this happen.

I am happy to discuss this with anyone any time, having spent many hours and kilometres on our roads.

Not all of them enjoyable!

On another subject, the Transport Women Australia Limited conference is being held in Melbourne from May 18-20.

The program is available, registration is open and accommodation can be booked at the Mantra Tullamarine.

For details, please phone Jacquelene Brotherton via chair@transportwomen.com.au or 0417 422 319.

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