Opinion

The Saga Continues

monitoring fatigue and distraction

Yet again, this week, we have a meeting of all state and federal transport ministers where they will be coming together to discuss a new Heavy Vehicle National Law, and the saga continues.

It feels like a lifetime ago that we had the hope that there would be a fit-for-purpose and rational HVNL. The transport ministers had agreed in principle to a national regulator for the trucking industry, or to be more exact, some ministers had agreed to this. That was the first compromise we had to face,

Then development of said law was rushed through in order to meet the deadlines of the various parliaments which had to pass the laws. In the writing of this law the fatigue issue was fudged in order to get the entire law up in time for the planned start of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator  and an integral part of this, the Advanced Fatigue Management scheme had already been found to be too difficult to achieve with any consistency.

Those operators who did manage to get an AFM plan, which worked out and approved, did solve some issues for their operations, but many more operators looked at the complexity and difficulty of creating such a scheme and walked away from it.

Then we come to the decision that, yes we need a new HVNL and we are going to have an extensive development period in which all of the industry and all of the other stakeholders will get involved and help develop the law to the point where it is something which is fit for purpose and can take the industry into the sunlit uplands of a rational law for the transport industry, and more specifically, a rational fatigue regime which works for the majority of the trucking industry and also ensures the issue of fatigue does not become an ongoing safety issue.

At this point the state bureaucracies hijacked the process along with the hardline fatigue experts and behind closed doors the years of consultation which had taken place where thrown out and a fatigue regime within the HVNL eventually appeared and was instantly rejected by the trucking industry.

To say this consultation project had been a farce is probably a vast understatement. Just about everybody involved in the trucking industry rejected the idea outright and this led to even more consultation and the decision to get Ken Kanofski to review the debacle and come up with some possible solutions. 

When the Kanofski report appeared, it was seen a vast improvement on what had come out of the previous consultation process and all the stakeholders started to come on board again. Now we are at the pointy end of a very very long process and waiting for the collective transport ministers of Australia to actually come up with a plan and approve something which the trucking industry can have a look at and hopefully get some sort of a handle on.

Whether this happens or not is anybody’s guess and after many years of inadequate legislation and inadequate effective consultation the saga continues…

 

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