Governments should not base the specifications for future electronic speed and fatigue management systems on the Intelligent Access Program (IAP), but should instead piggyback off the existing systems used by trucking companies.
The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) was responding to the NTC’s draft position paper on using electronic systems to monitor heavy vehicle driver fatigue and speed compliance.
The submission argues that the rules for electronic systems should recognise that many trucking companies already use sophisticated fleet management systems, often with in-vehicle telematics, rather than requiring them to replace those systems with ones based on IAP.
Trucking operators enrolled in IAP are required to pay for an extra GPS tracking device in their trucks, which sends information back to a monitoring company. The monitoring company notifies the relevant transport regulator whenever a breach is detected, no matter how trivial. It is an enforcement-focused tool, and does not improve safety or compliance.
In contrast, the systems used by operators have been developed to meet their duties of care and compliance. They are safety management focused and they help drivers and schedulers to make the right decisions and to be safe.
“Currently, road transport regulations do not provide sensible integration of industry led reform with the regulators’ requirements. For example, operators have comprehensive fatigue management systems in place, but regulators will not recognise these compliance efforts,” the submission says.
“The ATA recommends the development of a national framework for regulations that recognises, encourages and supports early adopters of technology, including existing operator telematics systems.
“Regulators can get the best coverage and most positive impacts by recognising these systems in their legislation and practices. Recognising an operating free market solution is usually very cost effective for regulators and industry alike.”
The submission says that IAP-based speed and fatigue monitoring should only be used as part of a court imposed penalty.
“The program should be limited to operators with a proven history of the most serious and persistent offences and with a very high likelihood of re-offending through severe risk fatigue or speed offences,” it says.
The submission argues that electronic systems used to monitor fatigue should be set up to ignore inconsequential technical breaches. The ATA and its member organisations are particularly concerned that a driver could take a 15 minute rest break, but then be prosecuted for breaching the fatigue rules because an electronic system recorded it as 14 minutes and 58 seconds.
“As a matter of policy, if all governments want to foster optimal use of electronic systems for recording and monitoring fatigue management, then all governments must agree to ensure that inconsequential technical breaches are ignored.”
The submission was developed by the ATA’s Transport and Economics Policy Committee, with important contributions by the managing director of Simon National Carriers, David Simon, and the executive director of the South Australian Road Transport Association, Steve Shearer.
You can download the ATA’s submission here.