Industry Insights

Driver Fatigue Compliance: What You Need To Know

Driver fatigue is a significant safety issue facing the transport industry and affects all aspects of Australian road transport. Safe Work Australia defines fatigue as, “mental and/or physical exhaustion that reduces your ability to perform your work safely and effectively”.

It is important to remember that effects of fatigue can result in poor concentration, slowed reflexes, impaired decision making and reduced ability to pay attention, all of which are vital to operating capital equipment such as trucks.

Studies show that driver fatigue is believed to be a major cause of road fatalities in Australia. This illustrates just how important it is to combat driver fatigue and why fatigue management is such a crucial element of road transport.
Eliminating road transport fatigue should be a major focus for all drivers and heavy vehicle operators

Taking the time

By logging working and rest hours correctly in the National Driver Work Diary, drivers will ensure that they are compliant with the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) and that their fatigue levels are managed safely and correctly.

It is vital that all drivers correctly log all work and rest hours by filling out the daily page as they undertake their duties throughout their working day. Work time includes all tasks to do with the operation of the fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle but also includes…

  • Loading and unloading the vehicle
  • Inspecting, servicing or repair work
  • Attending to the load or to passengers (on a bus)
  • Cleaning or refuelling the vehicle
  • Instructing or supervising another person including learning to drive a heavy vehicle, learning a new route, making deliveries etc
  • Recording information or completing a document (for example your work diary)

‘Rest time’ includes all time that does not fall under the above activities.
Managing your fatigue levels should be top of mind whether you are driving in the city or country.

Easy as one, two, three

To ensure that you are compliant with the legislation it is important to know how to correctly fill out your diary, logging all work and rest periods.

To do this you must ensure that…

  • You read all the detailed instructions at the beginning of your diary
  • That your diary contains the name and signature of the issuing officer
  • Fill in the identification details, work and rest hours option and the two up driver’s identification sections of the daily sheet immediately after you start work
  • Correctly fill in the comments section with any information pertaining to a vehicle breakdown, road works, if you were pulled over by an authorised officer, or if a rest area was full
  • If you are intercepted by an authorised officer, you can have them sign your diary and supply their name and badge number and the duration of your stop for your records.
  • Ensure that when you change from work to rest throughout your day that you record the location and odometer reading in your diary
  • Remember recording false or misleading information in your diary is against the law

This video from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator provides further detail on filling in the diary.

Play it safe

It is important to remember that you must correctly log your work and rest periods in accordance with the system outlined in your National Driver Work Diary.

Failure to do so could lead to you being responsible for breaches of transport law.

If you are having difficulties your employer or a more experienced driver may be able to assist you. If your work diary is ever lost, stolen or destroyed you must notify the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) or your local transport authority within two business days.

Until you can purchase a new work diary you may use a supplementary work diary record and carry it with you like your work diary.

The National Driver Work Diary is a vital resource in managing your fatigue levels in the workplace and in conjunction with taking regular rest periods, eating quality foods, getting exercise and adequate sleep, drivers can properly manage their fatigue levels.

Correctly following diary log procedures will ensure data accuracy and transparency while also safeguarding against noncompliance to work safety regulations.