Dave McCoid - Editor - New Zealand Trucking
Watching the trucking industry start to genuinely twist, contort, adapt and readapt under the rapidly changing technology that’s bombarding it currently, I can’t help but think on a regular basis about areas, able to benefit hugely from technology, that appear to be dragging their knuckles through the sand. One that stands out is driving hours.
The absurdity of telling a person when they will and when they won’t be tired based on a line drawn on a piece of paper never ceases to amaze me. I was talking to a truck driver while out doing a load the other day and I put this scenario to him: You’re an hour from home and there’s an hour and a quarter left on the logbook, you’ve had three nights away on the trot and so haven’t seen your family for four days. The trouble is you’re buggered, and the ‘gluey eye’ is setting in big time. If you pull over in the town you’re in and have your 10-hour break you know you won’t see them for another couple of days. What would you do?
Obviously, it was a loaded question; we all know what 99% of people would do.
The safe thing to do would be to pull over. Have an hour or so snooze, even a power nap, and get home. But here in New Zealand that’s not an option, because the book’s underway and when it ends, it ends. Put in a ‘fatigue’ break that sends you an hour beyond your work time and you’ll get more than 10 hours rest, you’ll likely get a month.
The log book I have has the word ‘Safety’ written all through it, it’s an overriding theme, and yet in the extract from the Work Time rules on the place-saver page there’s no mention of fatigue being a reason to cite an unavoidable delay – go figure! In this day of location and engine management systems it would be easy for the police to see if the truck was stopped in the citied period.
Our neighbours over the way are light years ahead of us on this one, attempting to factor in a level of understanding (I almost said common sense then) around the vagaries of when tiredness sets in. Many modern trucks come with fatigue monitoring systems built in; a fat lot of use when the hours of tiredness in New Zealand are legislated.
Hopefully at some point in the not so distant future law makers here will make some connection between work hours and fatigue. Maybe integration between electronic log books and on-board fatigue monitoring is doable. Regardless, some progress must be made on where the playing field is currently because, frankly, it’s absurd.
PS – For those following the tale…the ute has gone! As one local put it, ‘Biodegrading almost beat them.’
Dave McCoid - Editor