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Personal use of a fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle

February 23, 2018

Back in September last year, CoR Bulletin advised readers that the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) was considering allowing heavy vehicle drivers to have an extra hour of driving in their day (or their day off) to address personal matters related to their work, such as finding suitable sleeping accommodation or restocking supplies for the journey ahead.

Well, the NHVR has followed through and the decision has been made that from February the newly-created National Work and Rest Hours Exemption (Personal use) Notice 2018 will apply.

The NHVR says that any activity involving a fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle is counted as work and is therefore limited by the Heavy Vehicle National Law. So, it has granted an exemption to provide drivers with additional work time, if it is needed.
But note: the exemption can’t be used to drive the vehicle to a mechanic for repairs or to get home at the end of a journey.

How the exemption is applied

The NHVR states that “permitted personal activity” refers to any work done by a driver for personal, non-commercial purposes and includes:

  • stowing or retrieving personal effects from a fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle;
  • cleaning a fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle;
  • refuelling a fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle; and
  • driving a fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle for personal reasons.

The exemption allows drivers to use their heavy vehicle for personal activities in two specific circumstances:

  • during the 24-hour rest break
  • at the end of their shift, prior to their major rest break.

Remember, the exemption provides flexibility for non-commercial purposes only as the NHVR says it wants to protect drivers from commercial pressures leading to longer work time.

“The exemption can only be used under standard hours,” the regulator says. If additional work time is needed for commercial needs, drivers and operators should apply for a Basic Fatigue Management accreditation or an Advanced Fatigue Management accreditation via the NHVR website.

The Heavy Vehicle Advisory Publication – Personal use of a fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle – contains further information on the exemption, including:

  • when and when not to use the exemption;
  • what constitutes a fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle;
  • how to safely manage this time; and
  • what to do after having used the exemption.

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