Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Tackling truck issues head-on

Passion was evident yesterday when Victorian Roads Minister Terry Mulder met druck drivers and operators to discuss safety in the wake of a spate of heavy vehicle crashes in the region.

DARREN LINTON November 22, 2012 5:01am

Roads Minister Terry Mulder addresses yesterday’s truck safety meeting at Violet Town.

Voices were raised and the passion was obvious as transport operators and truck drivers met Victorian Roads Minister Terry Mulder in Violet Town yesterday.

The meeting resulted from concerns about a spate of heavy vehicle crashes in September, particularly on Hume Fwy.

Mr Mulder agreed to meet industry representatives to hear their views on safety and he will go into bat for drivers on several issues raised yesterday.

‘‘They are concerned that some of the laws in place at the moment aren’t working the way they expect they should be working, particularly in relation to fatigue,’’ Mr Mulder said following the meeting.

‘‘We’ve indicated we are prepared to go back and have a further look at that.’’

One of the main issues is the lack of flexibility because of a one-size-fits-all approach to compulsory rest breaks.

‘‘I know there is a lot of discussion going on at the moment about further flexibility around rest breaks,’’ Mr Mulder said.

‘‘The standard seven-hour break at the moment seems to be the issue that is causing most of them a lot of concern in terms of a template over each and every person, whether or not it fits in with people’s sleeping patterns.

‘‘We’re going to have to have a look at that again, it will be addressed as a national issue now because we have the national regulator being set up, but certainly even the meetings I’ve had with other states fatigue is the number one issue.’’

While the Victorian Government has already announced $9million in funding for more rest areas, it was still a significant issue for drivers.

‘‘I have asked VicRoads to do some analysis to see whether that will be enough to cater for the growth we’re seeing, particularly with B-doubles,’’ Mr Mulder said.

‘‘It is one thing to have in place laws that say people need to rest, but we have to make sure as a government we provide them with the opportunities to do so.’’

Drivers also complained about the operation of logistics facilities where they can crawl along for five or six hours in a line of trucks waiting to be loaded.

It was another issue the minister said he would pursue.

‘‘I think Aldi was raised as one of the companies that sets a good example of getting drivers in and out very quickly, other companies aren’t as good and that is something we can take up with those companies,’’ he said.

‘‘We are prepared to take that up after today’s discussion. It certainly isn’t something that has been raised with me in the past, that is the good thing about having these sorts of meetings.’’

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