Authorities fight cost of fatigue

UP to 30 per cent of fatal road crashes in regional areas and up to 25 per cent of fatal truck crashes are believed to be fatigue related, according to Department of Consumer and Employment Protection figures.

In an attempt to reduce the incidence of road fatalities, the Occupational Safety and Health Act has been amended to target commercial driver fatigue in drivers of commercial vehicles, such as trucks and buses with a gross vehicle mass over 4.5 tonnes.

The changes, which came into effect on July 1, are designed to reduce fatigue hazards by requiring medical examination of drivers, enforcing minimum break times and encouraging safer working hours, which means less night driving.

The changes are in addition to the Government’s vehicle driver fatigue campaign and development of a new industry code of practice.

Department of Consumer Employment and Protection associate director, Policy and Education, Gail McGowan, said the legislation was developed in conjunction with the transport industry.

A voluntary code of practice was developed in 1988, she said, but some commercial transport firms felt that it wasn’t competitive unless the whole industry was involved, a situation that wouldn’t be possible without legislative backing.

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