ATA calls for 900 extra truck rest areas

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) is calling on the Federal Government to deliver 900 extra truck rest areas on major highways by 2019.

The call came in response to the Government’s new heavy vehicle charges legislation, which was recently introduced into parliament.

Under the new laws, trucking operators will be required to pay the increased road user charge of 21 cents per litre, along with the introduction of new registration charges for the 21,500 trucks with federal interstate registration scheme number plates.

ATA chairman Trevor Martyn said its plan to amend the legislation would tie future increases in the road user charge to the construction of truck rest areas on the AusLink national network.

“Every truck driver and trucking operator knows we need more rest areas, because fatigue is a major cause of truck accidents. A number of states have just introduced new fatigue laws, but those laws won’t be effective unless truck drivers have more places to stop safely and rest.

“A recent independent audit found there isn’t a single major highway in Australia that meets the national rest area guidelines. Our estimate is that the AusLink national network needs an additional 900 rest areas to bring it up to the mark,” Mr Martyn said.

He said under the ATA’s proposed amendments, the Government would only be able to increase the road charge beyond 21 cents if it guarantees the delivery of 90 additional heavy vehicle rest areas per year over the next decade, meeting provisions for the current and future use of high-productivity vehicles.

“It is a realistic plan that could be delivered by the Government if the amendments go through,” he said.

He said the amendments would also prevent the Government from indexing the road charge by an automatic annual formula, which would make the charge automatically “ratchet up every year by seven per cent or more”.

“The industry is strongly opposed to indexing the charge, because it would be a stealth tax…The indexation formula would be based on figures that we wouldn’t be able to confirm.

“We believe in paying our way, but we need to be consulted about how it’s done. Our proposed amendments would require the Government to adopt an open and transparent system for setting the road user charge, instead of indexation,” Mr Martyn said.

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