News

Industry input welcome to safely manage truck driver fatigue

Published: 25 Oct 2021

The National Transport Commission today welcomes industry stakeholders to an important workshop discussion on the work and rest hours for heavy vehicle drivers across Australia.

Driver fatigue is one of the top three contributors to the road toll and is associated with an increased risk of crashing and road trauma.

As part of the Heavy Vehicle National Law Safety and Productivity Program, the NTC is drawing on scientific and safety evidence and operational insights in Australia and internationally to inform a best practice approach to managing driver fatigue.

“Today’s workshop is an opportunity to share the best practice research and to factor in local conditions by listening to the many voices and experience across industry,” said Dr Gillian Miles, NTC Chief Executive Officer and Commissioner. “It would be remiss of us not to fully understand the practical impacts of applying the science and research, because we need to get the balance right and make this work for Australia.”

Australian research has highlighted that fatigue is as much an issue for short-haul light truck drivers as it is for long-haul heavy vehicle drivers.

“Evidence also tells us that shift hours longer than 12 hours are associated with at least a twofold increase in drowsiness events. International studies found some aspects of driving performance deteriorated after 8 to 9 hours driving.”

The workshop will seek feedback on the:

  • impact of fatigue provisions on driver health and wellbeing and earnings
  • the wider heavy vehicle industry impacts on transport costs and productivity
  • the feasibility of transitioning to a streamlined approach that considers the types of trucking operations and regional and geographic differences across Australia.

“We have worked closely with industry since the HVNL review in 2019. It is through combining research and engagement from multiple sources that the NTC will be best placed to prepare detailed advice, and a draft law, for Ministers,” Dr Miles said.

The NTC completed a first-principles review of the law on behalf of Australia’s transport ministers and is on track to deliver a modern, outcome-focused law for regulating heavy vehicle operations in Australia.

Further stakeholder workshops on heavy vehicle duties, technology and data, assurance, access and effective fatigue management requirements will also help inform the new law.

“The NTC is having this series of workshops because we need industry to be part of the conversation all the way through,” Dr Miles said.

“The NTC has not finalised a position. It will be based on the best available evidence that factors in local conditions and practices to strike the right balance for Australia.”

Media contact: David Imber, dimber@ntc.gov.au, 0413 274 204. 

Notes to editors: The NTC is a national land transport reform agency that supports Australian governments to improve safety, productivity, environmental outcomes and regulatory efficiency, and provide for future technologies.

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