Heavy vehicle driver fatigue - FAQs

Heavy vehicle driver fatigue law

When did the new heavy vehicle driver fatigue law come into effect?
The heavy vehicle driver fatigue law started on 29 September 2008. Some amendments to the heavy vehicle driver fatigue laws took effect on 3 March 2011.

What is the name of the Act for heavy vehicle driver fatigue?
The name of the Act for the heavy vehicle driver fatigue law is the Road Transport (Vehicle and Driver Management) Act 2005.

What is the name of the Regulation for heavy vehicle driver fatigue?
The name of the Regulation for the heavy vehicle driver fatigue law is The Road Transport (Vehicle and Driver Management) Regulation 2005.

What type of vehicles do the new regulations apply to?
The driver fatigue regulations apply to:

  • Heavy trucks - with a Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) of over 12 tonnes or truck and trailer combinations, if the combined GVM is over 12 tonnes; and
  • Buses that are built to seat over 12 adults (including the driver).

What types of vehicles are excluded from coverage by the regulation?
Motor homes and plant (such as an agricultural machine, backhoe, bulldozer, excavator, forklift, front-end loader, grader, tractor or a motor vehicle that is registered as a type P plant-base special purpose vehicle) are excluded from the operation of the Regulation.

Truck-mounted cranes or truck-mounted drilling rigs are not plant and therefore, the Regulation applies to these vehicles.

 Work and rest hours options

What are the three work and rest hours options?
The three options are:

  • Standard hours;
  • Basic Fatigue Management (BFM) hours;
  • Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM) hours.

What is the Standard Hours option?
The Standard Hours option is aimed at regular scheduled operations with a lower fatigue risk. This option will suit most businesses. It sets prescribed limits on work and rest. See the Standard Hours fact sheet for more details.

How many hours can be worked under the Standard Hours option?
Standard Hours allow a maximum of 12 hours work time in any period of 24 hours with no more than 144 hours of work time in 14 days.

What is Basic Fatigue Management (BFM)?
BFM gives accredited operators a greater say in when drivers can work and rest, providing the risks of working long and night hours are managed. Accreditation is required under the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme (NHVAS) and operators must comply with six standards. See the BFM fact sheet for more details.

How many hours can I work under BFM hours?
BFM allows a maximum of 14 hours work time in any period of 24 hours with no more than 144 hours of work time in 14 days.

What is 'night' work time?
Night work time is any time worked between midnight and 6am.

What is 'long' work time?
Long work time is any time worked above 12 hours in any period of 24 hours. For example, if a driver works 14 out of 24 hours, the additional two hours worked are counted as long hours.

What is the 36 hour rule?
The 36 hour rule – which forms part of the BFM hours option - restricts the amount of night work and long shifts which a driver can work in any 7 day period. A driver can only work 36 hours of long and night hours in that time. Once the 36 hour limit on long and night hours is reached, a driver can no longer do night work (12 midnight - 6 am) or long hours (more than 12 hours work in a 24 hour period).

A night rest, or even a day off, does not clear the accumulated long and night hours. Instead the driver must always count back seven days to calculate the total accumulated long and night hours.

For further information on the 36 hour rule, see the National Transport Commission’s BFM fact sheet.

Under Standard hours and BFM hours options, how many nights ‘off’ must a driver have in a 14 day period?
A driver must have four nights without working in 14 days, and two of those nights must be consecutive.

What is Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM)?
AFM gives accredited operators even more flexibility than that provided under other options in return for demonstrating greater accountability for managing risk. Work and rest hours are proposed by the operator and the proposal is approved by Roads and Maritime Services on a case by case basis. The operator must identify the risks associated with working longer hours and put in place countermeasures to control the risks. The operator must comply with ten standards under the NHVAS. See the AFM fact sheet for more details.

How many hours can I work under AFM hours?
In NSW, a driver must not work for more than 15 hours in any period of 24 hours under the AFM option with a maximum of 288 hours in 28 days.

 Work and rest time

How is time counted?
Time is counted in 15 minute intervals and is recorded according to the time zone of the driver base.

How is work time counted?
Work time is always rounded up, so, if a driver works for 14 minutes, this is counted as 15 minutes of work.

How is rest time counted?
Rest time is always rounded-down, so, if a driver rests for 13 minutes, this cannot be counted as a 15 minute rest and a 25 minute rest is counted as only 15 minutes.

What is work time?
Work time is not just driving time. It is the time that the driver spends driving the vehicle and any time spent on other tasks related to the operation of the vehicle. Driving includes being in the driver’s seat while the engine is running and instructing or supervising the driver of the vehicle. Work time includes:

  • Loading and unloading;
  • Inspection, servicing or repair work;
  • Attending to the load or to passengers;
  • Cleaning or refuelling;
  • Performing marketing tasks; and
  • Recording information.

What is rest time?
Rest time is time that is not work time.

What is the Chain of Responsibility provision relating to fatigue?
Under Chain of Responsibility provisions, certain parties in the supply chain, not just the driver, have a duty to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the driver does not drive while fatigued or drive in breach of his or her work and rest hours option. These parties include: employers, prime contractors, operators, schedulers, loading managers, consignors, consignees. See the Fatigue Chain of Responsibility fact sheet for more details.

What if my job title is not covered as one of those identified above as a party in the chain?
It is performing any of these functions - rather than a job title or contractual description - which determines whether a person falls within any of these definitions. See the Fatigue Chain of Responsibility fact sheet for more details.

 Work diary

Can old log books continue to be used after the introduction of the new fatigue regulations?
The existing log book has been replaced by a new work diary.

All drivers of a regulated heavy vehicle are required to carry and complete a work diary unless operating under an exemption.

Click here to see a sample of a work diary page (under 'How to use your work diary').

Where can I buy the new work diary?
You can buy the new work diary from Roads and Maritime Services motor registries.

Do all heavy vehicle drivers in NSW have to carry a work diary even if they work within a certain distance from the driver’s base?
Drivers operating on journeys within a certain distance from the driver's base may be exempt from carrying and completing a work diary. Refer to the section on exemptions.

Can a driver use a paper and electronic work diary at the same time?
No. While testing is underway, no form of electronic work diary has yet been approved for use in NSW. Currently, the only valid form of work diary is the written work diary issued by RMS or another road authority (or, in appropriate circumstances, a supplementary record).

What happens if the work diary is lost or stolen?
If a diary is lost or stolen, the driver must report the fact in writing to Roads and Maritime Services within two business days. He or she then has a maximum of seven business days from the time the diary is lost or stolen, to get a new work diary. Until that time, the driver must still keep a record of their work and rest hours. A supplementary record sheet is available.

How long do I have to keep my work diary for?
You must keep all work records, (including any supplementary records) in the vehicle for the last 28 days’ work.

 Heavy vehicle driver fatigue laws in other States and Territories

Can a NSW driver work up to 16 hours in any 24 hour period in another State and Territory?
Yes. Operators will need to submit an AFM proposal to Roads and Maritime Services if they want their drivers to drive in another state or territory.

In NSW and Victoria, however, a person working under AFM can only work for a maximum of 15 hours in any 24 hour period.

Can drivers change from the AFM option to another option in a 24 hour period?
No. A 48 hour reset break is required if moving from an AFM to another work and rest hours option.

Chain of responsibility

Can a trucking company be responsible for fatigue related offences?
Yes. Under the chain of responsibility provisions, employers, operators, prime contractors and schedulers must take all reasonable steps to ensure that drivers do not drive while fatigued or in breach of their work and rest hours. It is also illegal to enter into a contract or make a request or demand that would result in a fatigue related breach.

Can managers be liable for fatigue related breaches?
Yes. Where a corporation, partnership or unincorporated association commits an offence, anyone who is involved in the management of the organisation may be held personally responsible. This includes directors, senior managers and partners.

 Enforcement

What are the different categories under the new driver fatigue law?
The regulations categorise offences according to risk: minor, substantial, severe or critical. Penalties, which include fines and demerit points, increase as risk increases.

What happens if a driver fails to produce a work diary for an authorised officer?
If a driver fails to produce a work diary the driver  may be guilty of an offence. Where there has been a failure to produce a work diary or if ann authorised officer believes that the diary isn't an accurate record, the driver can be directed not to work for 24 hours.

Can drivers incur demerit points for certain offences?
Yes. Drivers can incur demerit points against their licences for severe and critical risk offences involving breach of work and rest hours options.

Exemptions

Work diary

Literacy exemption

Can someone who cannot read or write obtain a work diary exemption?
Yes. The driver must apply to Roads and Maritime Services for an exemption.

Work diary requirements

When do I have to maintain a work diary?

A heavy vehicle driver must maintain a work diary where she or he is engaged in 100+ km work. This is work outside a 100 km radius from the driver's base/ A work diary need not be maintained for work within a 100 km redius of the drivers base.

Are there any requirements for the record keeper to keep records for the above drivers?

Yes, the record keeper must keep records as required by the exemption notice. Refer to record keeping.

Primary Production

What type of work diary exemptions are there for drivers of regulated heavy vehicles involved in primary production?
The driver of a regulated heavy vehicle undertaking a journey for the purpose of primary production (cultivation of land, or the keeping of animals or bees) within a 160km radius of the driver’s base is exempt from carrying and completing a work diary and record keeping requirements.

When must a driver of a regulated heavy vehicle involved in primary production carry and complete a work diary?
A driver involved in primary production must carry and complete a work diary for any journey more than 160km radius from the driver’s base.

Emergency Services

Are there any exemptions for drivers of regulated heavy vehicles engaged by emergency services?
Drivers of a regulated heavy vehicle engaged on a journey in the course of duties undertaken for an emergency service are exempt from all aspects of the new law.

What are considered emergency services?

  • An ambulance;
  • An emergency auxiliary;
  • A fire brigade, including a volunteer fire brigade;
  • A police service or force;
  • A disaster or emergency organisation of the Commonwealth, a State or Territory; or
  • Any other organisation with a statutory responsibility to respond to an emergency.

Bus and coach sector

Does the new driver fatigue law apply to the bus and coach sector?
Yes. The new law applies to the bus and coach sector.

Is there any work diary exemption for the bus and coach sector?
An exemption from carrying and completing a work diary has been granted for:

  • Drivers engaged on journeys within a 100km radius from the driver base; and
  • Drivers engaged under a Ministry of Transport bus service contract regardless of distance travelled.

When must bus and coach drivers carry and complete a work diary?
Bus and coach drivers must carry and complete a work dairy when they work more than 100km radius of their driver base.

Are there any requirements for the record keeper to keep records for the above drivers?
Yes, the record keeper must keep records as required by the exemption notice. Refer to section on record keeping.

Record keeping

Record keeping under the work diary exemption

For which work diary exemption must the record keeper record information?
The record keeper must keep records for::

  • Drivers employed by a licensed motor dealer or licensed motor vehicle repairer, for purposes incidental to the sale, manufacture, registration and repair of the regulated heavy vehicle;
  • Drivers covered by the local journey work diary exemption; and
  • Drivers of buses and coaches.

What are the responsibilities of the record keeper?
The record keeper must record the following information as soon as possible:

  • Driver’s name, licence number and contact details;
  • The dates the driver drives a regulated heavy vehicle;
  • The registration number of the heavy vehicle;
  • The total of the driver’s work and rest time for each 24 hour period and week;
  • The driver’s rosters, trip schedule and details of changeover; and
  • The driver’s base for each journey.

Are there any other obligations placed on a record keeper?
The record keeper must also:

  • Keep a copy of payment records including timesheet records if the driver is paid by time at work;
  • Keep records for a period of three years;
  • Keep records so that they can be accessed by an authorised officer;
  • Ensure that records are readable and reasonably capable of being understood; and
  • Ensure records are capable of being used as evidence.

Record Keeping Requirements for Outside the 100km Radius - BFM and AFM

What records must be kept by the record keeper?
The record keeper must keep the following records:

  • Driver’s name, licence number and contact details;
  • The driver’s rosters, trip schedules and details of changeover;
  • Duplicate pages and other copies of work diary entries; and
  • A copy of payment records, including timesheet records if the driver is paid by time at work.

Are there special record keeping conditions for BFM and AFM accreditation?
The record keeper must record any information required as:

  • Condition of accreditation; and
  • Any other information under the accreditation standards and business rules.

Are there any other obligations placed on the record keeper?
The record keeper must also:

  • Keep records for a period of 3 years;
  • Keep records so that they can be accessed by an authorised officer;
  • Ensure that records are readable and reasonably capable of being understood; and
  • Ensure records are capable of being used as evidence.

Heavy vehicle speeding compliance law

When did the new speed compliance law start?
The new speed compliance law started on 29 September 2008. Some amendments to the heavy vehicle speeding compliance laws took effect on 3 March 2011.

What is the name of the Act for the speed compliance law?
The name of the Act is The Road Transport (Vehicle and Driver Management) Act 2005.

What is the name of the Regulation for the speed compliance law?
The name of the Regulation is The Road Transport (Vehicle and Driver Management) Regulation 2005.

What are the key components in the new speed compliance regulations?
The new speed compliance regulations places a duty on certain off-road parties in the heavy vehicle industry to take steps to ensure that their activities, schedules or arrangements do not cause heavy vehicle drivers to exceed the speed limits.
See the Speed Compliance Chain of Responsibility fact sheet for more details.

The sppeding compliance chain of responsibility requirements are similar to the existing chain of responsibility provisions for mass, load restraint, vehicle dimension and fatigue management.

Who are these off-road parties in the heavy vehicle industry?
There is a specific duty on seven off road parties to take all reasonable steps to ensure that their actions do not cause drivers to exceed speed limits.

The seven off parties in the chain include:

  • Employers;
  • Prime contractors;
  • Operators;
  • Schedulers;
  • Loading managers;
  • Consignors; and
  • Consignees.

What if my job title is not covered as one of those identified above as a party in the chain?
It is the performance of the off road party functions described above – rather than the actual job title or contractual description - which determines whether a person falls within any of these definitions.

Is a party in the chain responsible for any driver who speeds?
This law does not mean that a party in the chain is responsible for any non-compliance with speed limits. However, the party in the chain may be responsible if their actions (or inactions) contribute to the driver’s behaviour, e.g. by pressuring the driver to speed or setting inappropriate deadlines.