The federal government has abolished the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) and will redirect more than $4 million a year to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR). This will fund a range of truck-related safety initiatives including a national high-tech surveillance network.
The latest message from the federal government notes that road incidents are complex and require a multifaceted approach to improve safety. The high-tech surveillance network will link heavy vehicle monitoring sites to provide national visibility of movement across state boundaries, putting an end to the ad-hoc approach that currently exists. This will allow the NHVR and its partners to identify non-compliance with fatigue rules, launching investigations across an entire supply chain to determine the root cause.
This is a significant commitment to improving the safety of heavy vehicle operations across Australia. Yet the federal government can’t solve this complex issue on its own. Here are three other ways to tackle driver fatigue and make our roads safer for all users:
Improving road design
Road funding and maintenance responsibilities sit with state and local governments. The transport industry would benefit greatly from investment in safer road design, which should include additional rest areas to give drivers more opportunity to take a break.
It’s your duty to ensure every driver returns home safely at the end of each shift. Introducing electronic work diaries (EWDs) is one way to minimise or eliminate tired driving in your fleet. This will help you tackle non-compliance with legislation and company policies, keep track of standard hours and issue alerts when drivers are due to have a rest. Investment in this technology helps drivers make sensible decisions and take a more proactive approach to meeting their fatigue management obligations.
There’s no doubt technology has an important role to play in tackling fatigue on our roads but it will never replace common sense. Educating drivers and transport operators on the importance of fatigue management and compliance is integral to improving the safety of all road users. This should include workplace initiatives to raise awareness of the dangers associated with tired driving and practical tips on what drivers can do about it.
Despite some controversy surrounding the abolishment of the RSRT, a better resourced NHVR is key to achieving real safety outcomes for the transport industry. With the federal government set to deliver new codes of practice guidelines and further education on the adoption of safety management practices in the coming months, heavy vehicle operators are in a good position to adopt a risk-management approach to driver fatigue.