Whether or not employees operate under work time regulations, a company must have a fatigue management plan based on its risk profile
New logbook fines statistics show drivers risk driving fatigued
Statistics obtained from the NZ Police by DT Driver Training paint a bleak picture of drivers’ compliance with logbook and work time rules.
The figures show that in 2017, 1935 drivers were given infringement notices, with penalties ranging from $150 and 10 demerit points to $500 and 35 demerit points. Additionally, 324 drivers were referred to court for summonable offences that typically attract fines of up to $2000 per offence and a one-month licence disqualification.
Darren Cottingham of DT Driver Training says, “The rules are there to ensure drivers don’t drive tired and to create a level playing field between all operators who drive under work time rules. Drivers that flout the rules create risks for other road users.”
DT Driver Training’s Darren Cottingham: “Drivers that flout the rules create risks for other road users”
The Ministry of Transport reports that over 12% of fatal accidents had fatigue as a contributing factor between 2014 and 2016, and states “the more serious
the crash, the more likely it is that driver fatigue is a contributing factor”.
The characteristics of crashes that involve fatigue are that they are often at full speed (due to no braking) and either head-on with a vehicle or into something solid on the side of the road. Only 10% of fatigue-related vehicle fatalities are in urban areas; the majority are on the open road.
Whether or not employees operate under work time regulations, a company must have a fatigue management plan based on its risk profile. The risks can include factors like sedentary work (e.g. long-distance drivers), shift work (e.g. overnight maintenance crews), shift length, the ability to take regular and restful breaks, the potential implications of a mistake on the job, and more.
Mr Cottingham is insistent that training plays a big part in effective compliance. “Companies and drivers must take responsibility to ensure they know the rules and their obligations, and the best way is structured training. The NZ Transport Agency produces a booklet with the basics, and we offer a cost-effective and comprehensive online training course, and there are other providers that do classroom-based training.”
Drivers must pay for their fines, but companies end up paying in multiple ways. The driver will be delayed at the side of the road while the logbook is analysed, affecting delivery times. If the driver can’t drive for a month, this puts extra pressure on the employer to provide services to their clients – and it’s a truck sitting there unable to be used. The company’s rating under the operator rating system is also affected.
The total infringement fines added up to $496,250 in 2017, not including fines from summonable offences. This money flows into the NZ government’s consolidated fund. “But that figure doesn’t represent the costs to business or reflect the times that ignoring work time rules bit back and caused a vehicle fatality, with much greater cost than mere money and demerit points,” Mr Cottingham says.