Fatigue laws

The “patchy” new heavy vehicle fatigue laws lack consistency across borders and will stir confusion, the trucking industry has argued.

The new fatigue laws have commenced in NSW, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia, with the Northern Territory, Tasmania and the ACT set to implement the changes by this week.

Western Australia has chosen not to adopt the framework.

National Transport Council chief executive Nick Dimopoulos said the reform would help eradicate the root cause of driver fatigue by doing more than regulating hours and making all parties in the supply chain responsible for preventing driver fatigue.

“Our professional truck and bus drivers will be healthier, better rested and trained in managing fatigue risks, meaning the risk of heavy vehicle crashes is greatly reduced,” Mr Dimopoulos said.

He said states and territories had done a good job in communicating the reform to industry through road forums and coordinating implementation on a common date.

The trucking industry, however, argued the apparent lack of consistency across borders would stir confusion.

National Road Transport Operators Association chief executive Bernie Belacic told The Australian Financial Review that the state-based implementation resulted in varying rules across the states.

“The most consistent thing we’ve got is inconsistencies,” Mr Belacic told the paper.

“Nobody really knows what they’re meant to be doing. This will result in a fair bit of confusion and chaos for a long time.

“Basically, if you drive across the border and cross between jurisdictions, you’re bound to be guilty of something,” he said.

The laws show variations in provisions such as the defences that drivers can use for breaching the regulations in different states and specific exemptions for solo drivers.

Australian Trucking Association spokesman Bill McKinley also told the paper while compliance training was critical in the implementation of the laws, there were not enough trainers available.

"The NSW regulations were only made last week and it’s a similar situation across all the states. As a result, the industry is facing huge problems in carrying out the necessary training,” Mr McKinley said.

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