NTC CEO Dr Gillian Miles.
The National Transport Commission (NTC) and the Cooperative Research Centre for Alertness, Safety and Productivity (Alertness CRC) have released the results of a world-first study into heavy vehicle driver fatigue.
The two-year scientific study evaluated alertness monitoring technology and the impacts of work shifts on driver alertness. It analysed shift starting time, the number of consecutive shifts, shift length, shift rotation, rest breaks and their likely impact on driver drowsiness and fatigue.
Spokesperson and theme leader for the Alertness CRC Associate Professor Mark Howard said the research involved a study of more than 300 heavy vehicle driver shifts both in-vehicle and in a laboratory, as well as 150,000 samples of retrospective data.
“We found that slow eye and eyelid movements, longer blink duration and prolonged eye closure are reliable predictors of drowsiness and fatigue,” Associate Professor Howard said.
The study also confirmed the scientific link between alertness and drowsiness patterns associated with specific work shifts for heavy vehicle driving.
NTC chief executive officer Dr Gillian Miles said these findings will inform future fatigue policy as part of the NTC-led review of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).
“This is critical new evidence that will ultimately help to decrease heavy vehicle fatigue risk at a time when the nation’s freight task is expected to double by 2030,” Dr Miles said.
The Alertness CRC conducted the research as part of a wider collaboration, including the NTC, the Australian Government, Transport for NSW, Austin Health, Monash University, the Institute for Breathing and Sleep and the heavy vehicle industry.
The summary report and an infographic of the key research findings are available on the NTC website.
Key research findings
- Greatest alertness levels can be achieved under current standard driving hours for shifts starting between 6am – 8am, including all rest breaks.
- Greatest risk of an increase in drowsiness occurs:
- After 15 hours of day driving when a driver starts a shift before 9am).
- After 6–8 hours of night driving (when a driver starts a shift in the afternoon or evening).
- After 5 consecutive shifts when driving again for over 13 hours.
- When driving an early shift that starts after midnight and before 6am.
- During the first 1-2 night shifts a driver undertakes and during long night shift sequences.
- When a driver undertakes a backward shift rotation (from an evening, back to afternoon, or an afternoon back to a morning start).
- After long shift sequences of more than seven shifts.
- During nose-to-tail shifts where a seven-hour break only enables five hours of sleep – a duration previously associated with a three-fold increased risk for motor vehicle accidents.
The National Transport Commission (NTC) has announced the appointment of Dr Gillian Miles as its new chief executive officer and commissioner.
Dr Miles, a former Victorian government senior executive, will commence in the role next week following an extensive recruitment process.
NTC chairwoman Carolyn Walsh said the appointment of Dr Miles has come at an important time with the NTC undertaking a number of significant reforms in land transport.
“Innovation, change management and a strategic mindset were front of mind for this appointment, particularly as the NTC continues to make major progress on several landmark transport reforms, including the regulation of automated vehicles and a review of the heavy vehicle national law.
“I’m confident that Gillian’s wealth of knowledge and experience is well suited to leading the NTC through a period of significant change across the land transport sector,” Ms Walsh said.
Ms Walsh also acknowledged the contribution of acting CEO Dr Geoff Allan following the departure of former CEO and commissioner Paul Retter AM in late 2018.
Dr Miles comes to the NTC with a long history of related senior appointments, including:
- Head of Transport for Victoria, 2015–2018.
- Chief executive officer, City of Greater Geelong, 2014–2015.
- Head of strategy & performance, Transport Accident Commission, 2013–2014.
- Deputy Secretary, Transport, Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure, 2009–2013.
- Deputy Secretary, Community Development, Department of Planning and Community Development, 2007–2009.
- Executive Director Regional Services, VicRoads, 2002–2007.
- Board member Roads Australia.
The National Transport Commission (NTC) expects to draft a whole new Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) after it completes its review of the existing law.
NTC chief executive Paul Retter said the review of the HVNL will be a back-to-basics review that is expected to result in an entirely new, fit-for-purpose performance-based law.
“Since May 2018, we have heard a lot from industry about the government not being prepared to make wholesale change to the law. Based on our discussions with governments, I am firmly of the view that this is not correct,” Mr Retter said.
“The HVNL, in its current form, does not reflect best practice. We understand that it is onerous for industry and the regulator, falls short of being truly national and is overly prescriptive and complicated,” he said.
The 2012 HVNL consolidated 13 model laws and brought six of the eight state and territory laws into a single national law.
“However, it is fair to say that while the HVNL was better than what preceded it, it was subject to a fair amount of compromise.”
Mr Retter said the NTC was best placed to undertake the review as it was not beholden to any particular jurisdiction. NTC will work with all governments and a large number of industry stakeholders and other experts across Australia during the review.
“The NTC was established by Australian governments to undertake exactly this type of national transport reform. We understand the law, its limitations and frustrations.”
He said the NTC had already been consulting widely with industry, road organisations, jurisdictions, fatigue and technology experts, and key legislative professionals. Detailed discussions have occurred between the NTC, the ATA, NatRoad, ALRTA, road transport organisations in each state and territory, safety bodies, and governments.
“We will establish an expert review panel to help develop new policy settings and legislation that reflects best practice.”
Mr Retter said the NTC was also setting up working groups for the key priority areas of safe and efficient access, enhanced fatigue management, accreditation for safer operations, and telematics, technology and data.
Consultation with industry will happen in rural and regional centres as well as urban areas to ensure the views of heavy vehicle operators across the country are taken into account when drafting replacement legislation.
“The 2018 review and subsequent proposed legislation will acknowledge that one size doesn’t fit all across this vast country. Taking a performance-based approach to the HVNL, rather than a prescriptive approach, will deliver streamlined legislation without compromising on safety.”
The NTC will finalise the terms of reference for the review in the next few months for approval by the Transport Infrastructure Council.
Improving safety outcomes across the supply chain is a core objective for the Australian Logistics Council (ALC), according to Managing Director, Michael Kilgariff.
“ALC strongly supports the changes to Chain of Responsibility (CoR) provisions under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) due to commence operation in mid-2018, requiring all supply-chain participants to take greater responsibility for safety and heavy vehicle maintenance, and ensure they have systems in place to effectively manage safety risks,” said Kilgariff.
“It is equally imperative that all parties in the supply chain understand and act upon their safety obligations. That is why ALC and the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) are developing a Master Code for heavy vehicle safety, capable of becoming a registered industry code of practice under the HVNL.
“ALC has also long-supported the mandatory use of telematics and tools such as Electronic Work Diaries (EWD) to enhance safety. In our view, the review of regulatory telematics being undertaken by the National Transport Commission (NTC) must actively consider the benefits of using telematics to improve multiple aspects of heavy vehicle safety.
“We have similarly called on the Federal Government to introduce a national operator licensing system to make certain the nation’s heavy vehicle fleet is operated by competent professionals who understand their safety obligations,” he said.
Anthony Albanese, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure & Transport, is among a number of prominent individuals who will speak at the Australian Logistics Council’s (ALC) national freight and supply chain event, ALC Forum 2018.
Following the successful 2017 event, which was held in the Melbourne Cricket Ground, in 2018, the Forum returns to Sydney’s Royal Randwick, taking place 6-8 March.
Other speakers for ALC Forum 2018 include:
• Brendan Bourke, CEO, Port of Melbourne;
• Chris Bresnahan, Operations Director – E-commerce Delivery, Australia Post;
• Royce Christie, General Manager – Government Relations, Toll Group;
• Paul Graham, Supply Chain – Chief Supply Chain Officer, Woolworths Group;
• Maurice James, Managing Director, Qube Holdings;
• Anthony Jones, CEO, LINX Cargo Care Group;
• Sal Petroccitto, CEO, National Heavy Vehicle Regulator;
• Melinda Pavey, Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight (New South Wales);
• Paul Retter, CEO and Commissioner, National Transport Commission; and,
• Richard Sellers, Director General, Department of Transport (Western Australia).
The ALC said that ALC Forum 2018 will progress the issues put forward by ALC members in the final submission, focusing on the freight logistics industry’s priorities and expectations for the types of infrastructure investment and policy reform required to enhance national supply chain efficiency and safety.
The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has called for the National Transport Commission (NTC) to consider the benefits of using telematics to improve multiple aspects of heavy vehicle safety, including the control of speeding compliance and advancing land transport market reform, for the review of regulatory telematics it is currently undertaking.
“ALC has a longstanding record of advocating for the mandatory use of telematics to enhance heavy vehicle safety,” said Michael Kilgariff, Managing Director, ALC.
“It is pleasing that the NTC has at last agreed to examine matters including industry adoption rates, barriers to adoption and the governance and legislative arrangements surrounding the use of telematics in heavy vehicles.”
Kilgariff noted that it is important that the parameters of the review are sufficiency broad so as not to impede active consideration of the benefits of telematics, both in terms of enhancing road safety and boosting national productivity.
“Industry has consistently told the NTC and other government bodies that mandatory use of telematics is essential to driving efficiency and safety improvements in the heavy vehicle sector,” he added.
“Discussion about making more effective use of telematics has been ongoing for a number of years, and during that time the technology available to industry has become both more reliable and more accessible, as the price of telematics equipment falls.
“ALC’s continuing discussions with industry participants regarding the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy indicate that industry is continuing to embrace innovative technological solutions.
“This means it is now easier than ever to collect reliable data that can shape the development of a more efficient and safer freight transport network.”
The National Transport Commission (NTC) is asking road transport agencies, police, and industry to provide input on how Australian governments should amend driver laws to facilitate the introduction of automated vehicles.
The NTC has released a discussion paper Changing driving laws to support automated vehicles that seeks to clarify how current driver and driving laws apply to automated vehicles and who would be legally responsible for their operation.
Chief executive of the NTC Paul Retter said current driving laws were developed before automated vehicles were envisaged. They therefore assume the driver is a human.
“The introduction of more automated vehicles will see elements of the driving task shift away from the human driver to the automated driving system but our laws currently don’t recognise these systems,” Mr Retter said.
“We need to ensure that relevant driving laws apply to automated vehicles when the automated driving system—rather than the human driver—is operating the vehicle.”
This work is one of seven projects—five of which are being led by the NTC and a further two led by the states/territories but for which the NTC is coordinating the findings and subsequent ministerial recommendations. These projects were approved by ministers in November 2016 as part of the NTC’s roadmap of reform to support the commercial deployment of automated vehicles.
“We have been tasked with identifying, and if necessary, removing, legislative impediments to automated vehicles. But we must also maintain the intent of existing laws—to ensure the safe operation of vehicles on Australian roads.
“Legislation must recognise a legal entity that can be held responsible for the automated driving system,” Mr Retter said.
The NTC’s discussion paper raises 14 questions relating to current driver laws. The key question is:
Should driving laws change to allow an automated driving system (ADS) to drive — rather than a human — and ensure that an entity is responsible for the actions of the vehicle when the ADS is driving?
The NTC is seeking feedback on options to reform laws to achieve this and other issues that arise if the ADS is legally permitted to drive.
Submissions for this discussion paper are open until 4pm, Friday, 24 November 2017 via the NTC website.
This project is closely aligned to the NTC’s work on developing a safety assurance system. The outcomes of the safety assurance work will also inform the recommendations of this project.
Following consultation on this paper, the NTC will present reform options to transport ministers in May 2018.
With the Federal Government having announced the composition of the expert panel that will advise on the development of the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy, the real work of shaping its content is now well and truly under way.
It’s not indulging in hyperbole to say that we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to get this right. Australia’s rapidly growing population coupled with changing patterns of consumer behaviour – especially with the growth of e-Commerce – will impose significant additional demands on the freight and logistics sector.
Indeed, the National Transport Commission (NTC) estimates that Australia’s freight task will grow by some 26 per cent in the next decade alone. When you think of the capacity constraints that are already evident in some of our major cities, particularly growing traffic congestion, such forecasts can appear daunting.
Although it will require a significant degree of hard work on the part of the freight and logistics industry, I am nonetheless confident that we can come up with solutions that will allow us to meet this burgeoning demand.
We know that industry is willing to play an active role, and we know that the Federal Government’s agreement to develop a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy shows decision-makers are willing to listen to industry’s advice.
Thus, our immediate challenge is to make certain the advice we provide is the right advice, which will help ensure the Strategy that emerges is the right one for our industry and the right one for the Australian economy.
I think there has been an encouraging start on this front.
At the beginning of March, the ALC held its annual Forum in Melbourne, and the entire focus of the event was discussing the content of the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy.
Of course, we are not starting with a blank piece of paper. Many of the attendees at the Forum are leading figures within Australia’s freight and logistics industry, and throughout their many years of collective experience they have garnered insights and evidence that will prove invaluable in terms of getting policy settings right.
Although ALC Forum 2017 was the first industry-wide gathering since the Prime Minister’s announcement last November that the Government would develop the Strategy, the discussions revealed there is already a remarkable degree of consensus across the industry about what is required to make it effective. This is a strong basis from which to work.
To help synthesise the industry’s conversations to date, the ALC has produced a Working Paper that summarises the views of industry to date about the contents of the Strategy.
Some of the major themes addressed in that publication are as follows:
Urban encroachment issues
In the lead up to the 2016 Federal Election, the ALC prepared a document called Getting The Supply Chain Right, which highlighted the freight and logistics industry’s most pressing priorities for an incoming government.
One of those was urban encroachment, and the lack of buffer zones, land separation setbacks and design mitigation measures around sensitive use developments, which can significantly hamper the efficient operation of freight-related infrastructure.
At the time, the ALC noted that the national freight supply chain will be unable to support Australia’s growing demand if facilities and infrastructure continue to be prevented from realising their optimal capacity, due to restrictions imposed on their use or operating conditions.
This includes things like night curfews for airfreight and port facilities, restrictive speed limits and the banning of heavy vehicles from key routes that provide access to freight facilities.
These things are often pursued by governments in search of an electoral boost. However, their long-term impact is to simply build inefficiencies into the supply chain, which ultimately results in higher consumer prices.
As industry ‘insiders’, we understand that there is a symbiotic relationship between good outcomes for freight efficiency and good outcomes for the community.
The problem lies in the fact that this is vastly underappreciated by the public at large, and even at times by decision-makers within government.
This is how we end up with poor planning outcomes, such as the failure to preserve freight corridors, and insufficient consideration of freight operations when pursuing ‘urban infill’ objectives surrounding new residential developments.
The freight and logistics industry needs to better ‘sell’ the fact that corridor preservation equates to improved safety, liveability and efficiency outcomes.
There was a broad consensus among participants at the Forum that not enough is being done to make use of data, both in terms of improving safety and efficiency across the supply chain, and also when it comes to effectively planning the nation’s freight infrastructure.
Of course, the top priority must be safety in the supply chain. Regrettably, Australia’s approach to safety in the trucking industry is lagging significantly behind that of other comparable nations. In particular, several participants at the Forum noted that Australia’s trucking industry is making insufficient use of telematics when it comes to making business decisions.
The ALC will continue to pursue a national telematics law, permitting the use of data about vehicle performance, equipment and driver behaviour that can be used to enhance road safety, improve efficiency within the logistics industry and identify problems with driver behaviour.
Technology also offers a potential way to overcome the impact of ever-more restrictive planning and vehicular access policies when it comes to CBD freight delivery. One detailed presentation discussed using urban consolidation/distribution stations. These can provide for multi-modal routing systems using bicycles, walkers and electronic vans to facilitate freight delivery.
It is far more efficient than using large vehicles to deliver small loads – especially given that an increasing number of large-scale residential developments do not incorporate delivery zones or provide access facilities for freight vehicles.
There is very strong support within the industry for construction of the Inland Rail, at last providing a port-to-port rail link from Melbourne to Brisbane. This project has had a long gestation, but with the increasing demand for freight resulting from free trade agreements and the growth of e-Commerce, encouraging more freight onto rail is vital.
Constructing the Inland Rail will help to cut freight transport times, reduce road congestion and promote cheaper consumer prices. There are also considerable economic benefits for regional communities along the route.
However, there are also opportunities elsewhere in the sector to make greater use of short-haul rail. This includes pursing projects like the duplication of the rail line at Port Botany, which will help achieve NSW Ports’ target of moving three million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU) by rail by the year 2045.
Pursuing a rail connection between the Port of Melbourne and three of Victoria’s inland ports will also be important in promoting supply greater supply chain efficiency and addressing road congestion.
This issue is especially important in the context of Asia’s rapidly expanding middle class, whose appetite for the type of high-quality agricultural goods Australia produces will be a source of growing demand on our freight and export infrastructure. We must be mindful not to cede our competitive edge in this area by failing to have a supply chain that operates safely and efficiently from paddock to port.
The next steps
The ALC believes that a dynamic Strategy requires a dynamic consultation process to guide its development, and accordingly the ALC will be continuing to engage closely with industry over the coming weeks and months to make sure we get the right outcomes.
However, from the conversation thus far, it’s already apparent that there are some clear expectations from industry.
Existing freight infrastructure needs to be made to operate efficiently, through making sure planning instruments not only identify and preserve the industrial lands to provide the jobs and logistics facilities of the future, but also ensure new residential developments do not encroach on infrastructure and prevent its effective utilisation.
It will also be necessary to establish some form of mandatory system of data collection that will allow better decision making and improved outcomes in safety, planning and investment decisions, all of which will help boost productivity.
We will need to move towards hypothecation of levies, fees, taxes and charges raised for the purpose of developing an identified piece of infrastructure – so that money raised is invested properly and not put back into consolidated revenue.
The construction of Inland Rail must continue to be treated as a priority, ensuring rail as a modality has a clear place in moving freight in the Australian supply chain.
Great Commonwealth leadership needs to promote supply chain safety and efficiency – this includes helping the public at large understand the importance of supply chain efficiency, as well as incentivising state jurisdictions to consider freight needs in their planning instruments by making Commonwealth funding support subject to conditions such as having corridor preservation strategies in place.
Finally, the establishment of a specific Federal Department of Planning and Infrastructure will allow the Commonwealth’s expertise in these areas (including the development of funding mechanisms) to be concentrated and properly able to be used as resource, by industry and by other jurisdictions.
The federal government is supporting a new intelligent transport cooperative research centre – the iMOVE CRC – with a $55 million R&D grant.
The iMOVE CRC – a new national intelligent transport R&D centre funded through the Co-operative Research Centres programme – has been in development for over 18 months. It is supported by 46 industry, government and research partners including the federal departments of ‘Industry Innovations and Science’ and ‘Infrastructure and Regional Development’, state road authorities, retailers, logistics and insurance companies, technology developers, automobile clubs and many of Australia’s top universities.
“Transport is the backbone of our economy. As a country we will fall behind if we cannot move our people and goods effectively and efficiently,” said iMOVE CRC Bid Lead, Ian Christensen.
“Our roads are congested and our transport systems are not coordinated and it’s getting worse in many cases. The establishment of the iMOVE CRC gives us an immediate opportunity to tackle this situation, by harnessing the power of ‘big data’, developing smarter solutions and engaging with the community to trial and deploy new technologies.”
iMOVE CRC Bid Chair, Ian Murray AM, said “As a country, we lose around $16.5 billion a year because of congestion. When you also factor in the human and financial losses due to accidents, we are looking at a phenomenal social and economic cost. We will now have the technology and smarts available to significantly alleviate these problems.
“The iMOVE CRC has a research program and experienced people ready to start work immediately. I am tremendously excited by the opportunities we have in front of us with this funding.”
The iMOVE CRC will play a role alongside other national bodies in assisting states, territories and peak industry bodies to collaborate and deliver cohesive national outcomes.
“The current explosion of data, the computing power of mobile phones, and the increasing automation of vehicles creates a vast range of opportunities to improve the range, safety, convenience and effectiveness of peoples’ travel options,” said Christensen. “Mobility and transport is one of the most exciting and dynamic aspects of urban and economic development. With its broad range of partners the iMOVE CRC will enable Australian organisations to develop world leading products and services.
“As well as with our partners we will be working in consultation with numerous other stakeholders, such as the Australian Logistics Council and the National Transport Commission. This will enable us to get the best possible outcomes for Australia.”