February 9, 1998
Transport Minister Eric Charlton today unveiled the State Government's plans to reduce driver fatigue in the road transport industry.
The Minister told an international conference on Fatigue and Transportation in Fremantle that a Murdoch University study found fatigue to blame for 25 per cent of fatal truck crashes in WA and steps had to be taken to remedy the situation.
"The Government is concerned at the threat to the community posed by drivers who spend excessively long hours behind the wheel and by transport companies which allow them to do so," Mr Charlton said.
"While the Government recognises that the transport industry generally acts responsibly we want to set operating standards which create an environment where risks are reduced and everybody benefits."
Mr Charlton said key recommendations were contained in a draft Code of Practice developed by Transport which would be available for public comment until May. (Copies available from Mr Lance Poore at Transport on 08 9320 9727)
"The Code of Practice is based on the duty of care provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act which requires drivers and their employees to adopt safe working practices," he said.
The code set five hours as the maximum period a commercial driver should be behind the wheel, or loading or servicing a vehicle without a break.
With breaks, the maximum average work time has been set at 14 hours a day with at least two days' rest every 14 days. The total time away from the wheel in any 24 hours must be at least eight hours.
"The objective is to make sure drivers and their employers recognise the importance of sufficient breaks between shifts," Mr Charlton said.
The Minister said the Code of Practice was comprehensive in addressing all causes of fatigue and the methods of controlling it. The code paid particular attention to drivers' health, workplace conditions and vehicle safety.
Mr Charlton said WA would not follow other States by introducing log books to enforce regulated driving hours because there was little evidence that this system worked effectively.
The task of enforcement in WA would be carried out by Worksafe.
The Minister said Government was confident the new code, developed in consultation with the road transport industry and trade unions, would lead to a reduction in fatigue-related crashes in an industry so important to WA.
Media contact: Nicole Trigwell 9321 7333