NSW bus/coach drivers get 12 months to meet new fatigue rules

By: Chris Smith

Bus and coach drivers in NSW have been given an extra 12 months to meet new heavy vehicle logbook requirements

Bus and coach drivers in NSW have been given an extra 12 months to meet new heavy vehicle logbook requirements in response to industry pressure.

During this 12-month phase in period, drivers have the option of working under either:
  • The hours prescribed under the new law (Standard Hours or Bus and Coach Hours,
  • Continuing to operate under the Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) (Driver Fatigue) Regulation 1999.

At the end of the 12-month period (September 29, 2009), all buses and coaches must operate under the new law.

Bus operators may apply to the State's Roads and Traffic Authroity (RTA) to operate under Basic Fatigue Management or Advanced Fatigue Management at any time in accordance with accreditation requirements.

The NSW Government caved into industry pressure by announcing it will grant a logbook exemption for heavy vehicle drivers in line with the Victorian model.

Newly-appointed Minister for Roads Michael Daley will not enforce local work diary laws, saying drivers will only need to keep records if they operate beyond 100km of their depot.

The move comes as the as spokesperson for Daley says the Government may look at extending the transition phase if the industry needs more time in moving to stringent fatigue management regulations.

Bus operators will operate under the same measure as the trucking industry.

However, Daley has signalled the exemption may end after a year.

"These exemptions will be in place for 12 months to allow Minister Daley plenty of time to talk to people in the industry about making sure the laws aren’t unduly onerous," a spokesperson for Daley says.

The exemptions form part of the transition period announced by the previous roads minister Eric Roozendaal.

Under the transition phase, drivers can operate up to 14 hours a day for six months, at which point the working hours will be scaled back to 12 hours.

The Government intends on passing the fatigue management measures as a regulation.

According to a spokesperson, Daley approved the regulations in time for them to commence September 29.

"The minister must table the new regulation in parliament, and parliament can disallow the regulation," the spokesperson says.

Industry groups have welcomed Daley’s decision to pass a 100km exemption, saying it will remove a lot of the red tape associated with moving to fatigue management.

The Bus Industry Confederation (BIC) called on each of the States and Territories to institute a transition period of at least 12 months on the proposed driving hours requirements for the bus and coach sector.

So far most of the states have granted the request with South Australia granting operators only six months to come to terms with the new requirements.

The industry hopes this will allow time to develop a specific Bus and Coach Industry Driving Hours Package that can be adopted as consistently as possible in each jurisdiction.

Executive Director Michael Apps says BIC does not believe the changes required are difficult to achieve and will provide an overall better fatigue management outcome.

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