The primary purpose of the HVNL is to ensure a safe and efficient heavy vehicle journey. This is made of a safe driver, a safe vehicle and a suitable route.

This topic and issues paper covers one key aspect of a safe driver: managing fatigue. It uses the risk-based approach outlined in the first issues paper to identify problems in the current fatigue management provisions in the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).

The issues paper identifies the problems with the current law and the high-level principles that a revised law should consider.

There will be future opportunities to tell us about the specifics of access, safe people and practices, safe vehicles, accreditation, compliance and technology and other matters.

Effective Fatigue Management

The HVNL aims to deliver safe driver outcomes through effective fatigue management.

The fatigue management provisions in the current laws specify:

  • safety duties (primary and fatigue specific) and accountability under the chain of responsibility
  • maximum work and minimum rest requirements
  • work diaries and record keeping, and
  • fatigue management accreditation schemes - Basic Fatigue Management (BFM) and Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM).

In practice, the main control for driver fatigue is a combination of maximum work and minimum rest hours. Work diaries ensure compliance with work and rest hours.

Problems with fatigue management under the HVNL

Through consultation with industry, regulators, jurisdictions (participating and non-participating), the NTC understands the high-level problems with the HVNL are that the law:

  • does not prevent drivers from getting behind the wheel when fatigued
  • does not manage fatigue risks effectively
  • does not recognise or encourage better fatigue management systems
  • is inflexible and not always matched to the task
  • is complex and prescriptive
  • has limited enforcement options and imposes punitive sanctions

What we heard

Government, regulators, drivers, operators, industry bodies, and members of the public have provided detailed and constructive submissions. Read what we heard on effective fatigue management.