The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has started consultation on a user-friendly exemption for managing fatigue and driving a fatigue-related heavy vehicle for personal use.
NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto said the Personal Use Exemption would allow operators some personal use of a heavy vehicle outside their regulated driving hours.
“Under the proposal, operators would be able to use a heavy vehicle for personal use for up to one hour at the end of the day or on a day off,” Mr Petroccitto said.
“Currently a personal use exemption of up to one hour during a driver’s day off exists in NSW.
“We continue to work closely with the heavy vehicle industry to provide flexibility around fatigue while still maintaining the highest safety standards.”
The exemption is expected to be used for personal or non-revenue activities, such as reaching suitable sleeping accommodation and restocking supplies for a trip.
All operators should note that current fatigue laws apply during the consultation process.
The beginning of the one-month consultation period for the Personal Use Exemption is part of the NHVR’s Focus on Fatigue over the coming month.
“The correct management of work and rest times through a Work Diary is the best way to predict and assess a driver’s potential level of fatigue impairment,” Mr Petroccitto said.
“There will also be a number of coordinated compliance operations taking place across the country in the coming weeks with a specific target on driver fatigue and work and rest hour compliance.”
Industry welcomes the consultation
The Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) has welcomed the formal consultation on the proposed national work and rest exemption.
ALRTA national president Kevin Keenan said 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 President 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 the 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.