The Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) has welcomed an announcement that the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has commenced formal consultation on a proposed national work and rest exemption to allow limited personal use of fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle.
ALRTA National President Kevin Keenan said that a national exemption would harmonise state laws and result in better quality rest for drivers.
“Short-distance drivers can usually make it home to access sleeping quarters, meals or washing facilities, as well as their own private vehicle for personal use. In contrast, long-distance drivers are often forced to rest at inhospitable locations with no amenities whatsoever,” said Mr Keenan.
“Uninterrupted sleep, eating well and keeping clean are fundamental to maintaining alertness and vehicle control. It is also important to relieve boredom during longer breaks in isolated locations.
“In NSW, drivers are allowed up to one hour personal use of a heavy vehicle during a 24hr break to undertake tasks such as cleaning, refuelling or driving for non-work related purposes.
“While ALRTA strongly supports the principle underpinning this limited exemption, it is just as important to promote better rest quality during the working week, and of course NSW is not the only location where such flexibility would be beneficial.
“A national work and rest exemption would ensure a consistent approach across all Heavy Vehicle National Law jurisdictions and promote better quality rest for long-distance drivers,” he said.
The ALRTA raised this issue during a meeting of the NHVR Livestock and Rural Transporters Industry Operation Group in September 2016 and subsequently wrote to NHVR formally requesting that the matter be included on the NHVR’s work program for 2017.
The NHVR has proposed that the national exemption would apply during the 24 hour rest break and at the end of a shift (prior to a major rest break). Allowable activities would include: accessing personal effects, cleaning, refuelling or driving for personal reasons.
Source: ALRTA. Consultation is open until 30 September 2017. For more information click here.