In its recently released issues paper, Effective fatigue management, the National Transport Commission (NTC) says that the current Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) is not stopping heavy vehicle drivers from driving when fatigued, despite its aim and recent improvements.
“Fatigue remains the main cause of fatal single heavy vehicle crashes. Drivers themselves have highlighted it as an ongoing risk in their industry,” the paper states.
But the laws in place now are not mitigating this risk.
The paper says that fatigue management under the HVNL is based on “deficient assumptions” about fatigue risks and its causes and doesn’t consider the complexity of how these risks and causes interrelate.
As it stands, the HVNL is focused on fatigue risk prevention controls, rather than mitigation controls or outcomes.
“The HVNL doesn’t have the flexibility to accommodate sophisticated fatigue management systems and practices, even though they may be more effective. Operators with these systems are still bound by the prescriptive controls in the HVNL.”
“The heavy vehicle transport industry is diverse. It includes a wide range of operators, tasks, regions and risk profiles. The HVNL’s ‘work and rest’ approach doesn’t adequately recognise, or accommodate this diversity.
“The complex and highly prescriptive fatigue management requirements are hard to understand and comply with. They cause problems that include misunderstanding the prescriptive work and rest hour regimes, onerous administration and inconsistency between jurisdictions.
“Enforcement options in the HVNL are limited and do not necessarily reflect differences in risk severity. Instead, the HVNL encourages an inefficient and sporadic use of enforcement resources without always focussing on improving safety,” the paper says.
The NTC is asking for everyone affected by the HVNL to provide feedback on how fatigue management can be better regulated and how the current law can be improved.
It has listed 12 questions it will consult with stakeholders on and is inviting written submissions and online feedback to be sent to them no later than 16 August 2019.
The Effective fatigue management issues paper can be found at www.ntc.gov.au/Media/Reports/(4806F7F5-CAC2-8DF8-58C7-EA5F7A8B6ACD).pdf.
Fatigue management is just one area of the HVNL
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