Rules: power is knowledge
WHAT a busy couple of weeks.
The weekend of August 4, I attended the annual NatRoad conference at the Gold Coast, a chance to catch up with friends and colleagues to discuss issues the industry faces, network and hopefully come away with some knowledge to arm ourselves to face these challenges.
It was also the first opportunity I had to meet to meet Big Rigs' new editor, Carly Morrissey.
For anyone who has never attended a well-organised conference, these events normally held over a couple of days are a full-on affair.
You don't get much time to rest.
Between attending information sessions the breaks are always taken up with the opportunity to share information with operators, suppliers and regulators who attend.
One relevant issue for drivers that kept being mentioned to me and also has been mentioned by readers of Big Rigs and other publications is that there still seems to be problems, mainly with representatives of Queensland Police Service, not understanding the regulated method for the counting of time in a driver's work diary.
Apparently there still may be officers who have not received the correct training or don't understand the directive in the legislation dealing with how to count work and rest time and may still be counting time backwards.
When you look at all the rules and regulations that an officer must try to remember dealing with, everything from criminal law to road rules, you probably could excuse them for getting it wrong sometimes.
But for them to get it wrong is an expensive mistake that doesn't cost them. It can cost you, the driver, in both unwarranted fines or time and effort to get an incorrect infringement overturned.
So how do you, as a driver, when dealing with roadside enforcement indicate to them that their information may be wrong? Jump up and down, swear, become abusive?
Nope, that's probably a quicker way to even more infringements and trouble.
One thing that having been heavily involved in over-dimensional loads for a long time has taught me is that as a driver or operator, knowledge is power.
If you have an understanding of the regulations or permits and can display that knowledge effectively to an enforcement officer you will quite often convince them that their information or view on a situation may be incorrect.
While we can't be expected to be able to remember all the rules and regulations, when a common issue like this arises it can be handy to keep a condensed reference so when a problem arises you can refer to it quickly and diffuse any conflict over differing opinions.
"Officer, can I point out ..."
Instead of carrying around a copy of the full fatigue regulations, here is an excerpt from the Queensland regulations with the information that refers to the instructions for counting time, which is now universal for South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales from November last year.
Transport Operations (Road Use Management - Fatigue Management) Regulation 2008, Part 3: Requirements relating to work and rest time, Subdivision 2: Counting time.
42. Time must be counted after rest time ends.
When counting time in a period, the time must not be counted from within rest time, but instead must be counted forward from: (a) if one or more major breaks are relevant to the period - the end of a relevant major rest break; or (b) in any other case - the end of a relevant period of rest time.
Tear or cut this article out and keep it in your work diary or somewhere handy in case you ever need it as a reference.
Quote it if need be, that actually works much better than showing it to an officer and letting them read it because it displays that you, the driver, have a competent understanding of the regulations. And, in the words of Sam Elliot's character from the movie, Roadhouse: "Be nice. It works better than bad attitude."