COSTLY MISTAKE: Aaron Tunnah received a $10,000 fine for a fatigue breach recently.
COSTLY MISTAKE: Aaron Tunnah received a $10,000 fine for a fatigue breach recently. Carly Morrissey

Truckie angered over $10k fine

TRUCKIE Aaron Tunnah couldn't believe his eyes when he opened a letter from the Lithgow Court House.

"I rang the courthouse. I said they must have added one too many zeros," he said.

But the $10,000 fine he received for a critical risk breach was no joke.

He was booked by police at the Mt Boyce weighbridge for only having five hours' rest instead of seven in a continuous block.

Mr Tunnah, who freely admits he did the wrong thing, also says he doesn't deserve a $10,000 fine.

"Logbooks aren't flexible enough," he said.

"It was just an error on my behalf.

"I struggle with my logbook, especially with daylight savings.

"But I haven't gone over 12 hours' work time."

WHEN Mr Tunnah first received a court notice for the critical breach in the mail, he rang his solicitor for advice, but chose not to have someone represent him as he was saving to buy his first home.

He decided he would plead guilty and let the courts deal with the matter in his absence as he couldn't afford a day off work.

As the court date drew closer, he ran out of time to send a letter to plead his case and instead rang the courthouse to say he wanted to plead guilty.

However, he didn't expect a $10,000 fine; his friend who had the exact same breach was handed a $300 fine when he attended court.

"I've already paid $1500 in other fines (from that day)," Mr Tunnah said.

The trip started out like any other.

Mr Tunnah left his Springfield home on a Saturday night and headed to Sydney.

"I got to Coonabarabran, woke up five hours later and got going and then realised I needed to have seven hours," he said.

He tried to pull in at a rest stop in Tomingley, but there wasn't enough room. He managed to pull in at a parking bay in between Parks and Forbes to have the rest of his break, however by law he needed to have seven hours continuously.

Managing law clerk at Hall and Co Solicitors Guy McEntyre advised truckies to use a lawyer, especially with the new Heavy Vehicle National Law now in full swing. Under the new laws, a critical risk fatigue breach carries a maximum fine of $15,000.

The Transport Workers' Union could not comment on Mr Tunnah's case, but TWU Queensland state secretary Peter Biagini said the TWU stood by members 100%.

"While we can't comment on an individual case unless we know all the circumstances, the TWU puts safety first and supports measures that enforce safety; however in enforcing penalties the government needs to ensure fairness and uniformity for truck drivers who already do it tough financially," he said.

Mr Tunnah is now appealing the decision.

He said a lack of adequate facilties at rest stops made it difficult for truckies: "Who in their right mind will sit for hours in a parking bay with no facilities?"

"At the end of the day, I stuffed up.

"In the logbook you should be able to do 12 hours a day how you want to.

"Fatigue is different for everyone."

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