Personal use fatigue exemption mooted

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has started consultation on a user-friendly exemption for managing fatigue and driving a fatigue-related heavy vehicle for personal use.
NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto said the Personal Use Exemption would allow operators some personal use of a heavy vehicle outside their regulated driving hours.
“Under the proposal, operators would be able to use a heavy vehicle for personal use for up to one hour at the end of the day or on a day off,” Mr Petroccitto said.
“Currently a personal use exemption of up to one hour during a driver’s day off exists in NSW.
“We continue to work closely with the heavy vehicle industry to provide flexibility around fatigue while still maintaining the highest safety standards.”
The exemption is expected to be used for personal or non-revenue activities, such as reaching suitable sleeping accommodation and restocking supplies for a trip.
All operators should note that current fatigue laws apply during the consultation process.
The beginning of the one-month consultation period for the Personal Use Exemption is part of the NHVR’s Focus on Fatigue over the coming month.
“The correct management of work and rest times through a Work Diary is the best way to predict and assess a driver’s potential level of fatigue impairment,” Mr Petroccitto said.
“There will also be a number of coordinated compliance operations taking place across the country in the coming weeks with a specific target on driver fatigue and work and rest hour compliance.”
Industry welcomes the consultation
The Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) has welcomed the formal consultation on the proposed national work and rest exemption.
ALRTA national president Kevin Keenan said a national exemption would harmonise state laws and result in better quality rest for drivers.
“Short-distance drivers can usually make it home to access sleeping quarters, meals or washing facilities, as well as their own private vehicle for personal use. In contrast, long-distance drivers are often forced to rest at inhospitable locations with no amenities whatsoever,” said President Keenan.
“Uninterrupted sleep, eating well and keeping clean are fundamental to maintaining alertness and vehicle control. It is also important to relieve boredom during longer breaks in isolated locations.
“In NSW, drivers are allowed up to one hour personal use of a heavy vehicle during a 24hr break to undertake tasks such as cleaning, refuelling or driving for non-work related purposes.
“While the ALRTA strongly supports the principle underpinning this limited exemption, it is just as important to promote better rest quality during the working week, and of course NSW is not the only location where such flexibility would be beneficial.
“A national work and rest exemption would ensure a consistent approach across all Heavy Vehicle National Law jurisdictions and promote better quality rest for long-distance drivers,” he said.
 
 

Seeing Machines fatigue system wins BHP contract

Seeing Machines has won a $1.5 million order for its Driver State System which uses driver eye tracking technology to monitor fatigue.

It comes after a 17 truck trial at BHP's Pilbara iron ore operations.

According to the company 110 trucks will implement the technology, which uses eye tracking and facial recognition technology to measure truck drivers fatigue.

It will be installed on the 87 truck fleet at Mining Area C and into the 23 truck fleet at Eastern Ridge.

In a company statement Seeing Machines CEO Ken Kroger said "the mining industry is acknowledging and supporting the advances being delivered with the DSS technology, and the integral role that eye tracking technology has to play in keeping their operators safe.

"The technology is fast becoming indispensable in the industry as a means to maximise worker safety and we are glad that this, along with our absolute commitment to the highest levels of service for our customers, is being recognised. This order re-affirms our confidence in our expectations for the full year

"We look forward to working with BHP Billiton at its Iron Ore sites in the Pilbara, supported by Caterpillar and by WesTrac in Western Australia".

In May this year the company signed a massive strategic agreement with Caterpillar to roll out the technology, known as the Driver State System (DSS), in Cat's machines, as part of the manufacturer's wider MineStar system.

At the time Cat said "the alliance with Seeing machines is a natural progression of Caterpillar Global Mining'swork to mitigate fatigue issues in mining activities".

It is reportedly working on 20 mine sites across 1500 vehicles.

During a Caterpillar presentation in Brisbane last month Cat demonstrated the technology to Australian Mining, explaining that it uses adash mounted camera to track the driver's eye and facial movement and head positioning to not only track drowsiness and microsleeps but also to ensurethey remain focused on driving and aren't distracted during operation.

It uses in cabin mitigation techniques"such as an audio alert and seat vibration, which would wake the dead," they told Australian Mining.

Unlike many other fatigue monitoringsystems in the market, the DSS system is 'untethered', which means drivers do not have to wear measuring caps or glasses that are plugged in to an in-cabin system.

The system also reached a milestone last month with contractor Toll Mining Services, which installed the 100th system into their fleet.

Toll first trialled it at Anglo American's German Creek coal mine in July 2011, where Toll says it was able to quickly reduce the number of distraction events by 70 per cent on site.

Following this it then rolled out thesystem amongst its other fleets in Queensland's north west, the Pilbara and increased its presence in central Queensland.

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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