Australian Trucking Companies Urged to Embrace Lawsby Jana Ritter - Published: 2/03/2014
With the continuing controversy surrounding the new hours of service rules in the United States, ABC's (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) recently shed light on the topic as well. Their Four Corners program aired allegations that Australian trucking companies (as listed on HTC) are also ignoring road safety protocols in order to meet tight deadlines and Australia's National Road Transport Operations Association (NatRoad) says that laws designed to encourage better standards in the trucking industry should be embraced.
The Four Corners program recently aired in Australia, discussed how the trucking industry is set-up so that truckers are working longer hours on the road to earn satisfactory pay. It suggested that trucking companies must work in a way to better embrace the federal regulations specifically put in place to reduce fatigue and improve road safety, but as discussed on a thread on Keeje, many truckers are upset by these new rules because it limits their income.
NatRoad president and managing director of Wagga-based Ron Crouch Transport, Geoff Crouch, said the "loss of life on the road is a tragedy" and that government and industry should work together to improve road safety. Mr. Crouch said when it is proven, responsibility should lie with the managers of trucking companies and not truck drivers forced to meet unrealistic deadlines. "Any industry should encourage chain of responsibility laws being used to the full extent of their powers as far up as possible," he said. "Anything that can be done to lift the standards should be encouraged."
At the same time, Mr. Crouch says that is also important not to accuse trucking companies of forcing long hours on their employees either. He explains there was no company that he was aware of that was advocating for substantially increased driving hours and that better monitoring of rest breaks was currently not a viable option for managing driver fatigue. "All operators and drivers require a greater degree of flexibility with driving hours to ensure that a driver is not forced to stop and take a rest break when he is not tired," he said.
Mr. Crouch also concedes that the use of illicit drugs to manage fatigue was a reality in the industry, not with all drivers but enough to make it a concern we shouldn't ignore.
"The industry as a whole has a common goal to eradicate any instances of drug use in the industry," he said. "All responsible members of the Australian road transport industry will encourage that such actions are stamped out."
Mr. Crouch applauded the role of the Australian National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, which was created to deal with safety issues in the industry. "The regulator has got part of its agenda a very strong focus of improving safety and does so with the support of the industry," he said.
Driver fatigue is obviously an issue shared in the trucking industry worldwide and learning from one another maybe the best way to find a solution for all.