EXCLUSIVE: Transition period for fatigue management

By: Jason Whittaker

Trucking operators are likely to win a six-month reprieve from complex new fatigue management regulations, at least in New South

Trucking operators are likely to win a six-month reprieve from complex new fatigue management regulations, at least in New South Wales, as pressure mounts on jurisdictions to delay enforcing the new laws.

The NSW Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) is proposing a penalty-free "period of overlap" between the old and new fatigue laws, the Authority's Phillip Halton has revealed to ATN.

The National Transport Commission (NTC) has flagged a similar proposal, but there is no consensus among other states on a nation-wide moratorium.

New fatigue regulations, including changes to driving hours, are due to take effect across the country from September 29.

But as ATN has reported, operators are struggling to comprehend the changes while road authorities and governments have been criticised for not adequately educating the industry about the changes and providing improved rest facilities for drivers.

Halton says he doesn't want a "hard and fast changeover date" for the new laws. The changeover period must "strike a balance", he says.

Under the RTA proposal operators who comply with existing driving hours will be deemed compliant for a six-month period after the introduction of the new regulations.

The RTA had already agreed to offer formal warnings before issuing breach notices, but Halton says regulators must now go further as the industry makes the change.

He admits drivers particularly face a big change in how they operate.

"Changing a habit you've had for most of your working life is hard work," he says.

Halton says the RTA will proceed with the overlap period regardless of other states.

The NTC held a meeting yesterday to discuss a number of proposals, but Tim Eaton, the NTC's General Manager for Safety and Environment, says there was no consensus on any one proposal.

One of the proposals include running both the existing and new driving hours regimes in parallel, while enforcing other measures from the new regulations like chain of responsibility provisions.

The NTC is also looking at moving to the new penalty structure for driving hours breaches but applying it to the existing regulations for a period of time.

Eaton says the uncertainty in how many operators will apply for the Basic Fatigue Management (BFM) and Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM) schemes, combined with a shortage of accredited auditors, has created problems ahead of the September deadline.

He says there will be "no movement" on the implementation date, but "the door is still open" on other transitional arrangements.

He says the NTC will continue to talk to the states about the transition arrangements.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to receive the ABC e-newsletter, digital magazine and other offers we choose to share with you straight to your inbox

You can also follow our updates by liking us on Facebook