“Heavy vehicle drivers consistently report that the quality and location of many rest areas is not adequate, compromising the ability to utilise them and to meet the demands of driving hours regulations.” ( 2005 - NTC National Guidelines for the Provision of Rest Area Facilities)
The Trucking Industry for well over 2 decades has researched, formulated submissions, lobbied and debated the topic of Heavy Vehicle Rest Areas, or rather the lack of Rest Areas, and here we are in 2019 with Heavy vehicle drivers consistently reporting that the quality and location of many rest areas is not adequate, compromising the ability to utilise them and to meet the demands of driving hours regulations.!!
Not only do they need Rest Areas to comply with Work and Rest laws, but more importantly and essentially to Rest and Revive instead of driving whilst Fatigued.
Rest Areas will again feature in “tackling the big issues” at the Trucking Australia 2019 conference in Perth.
And in January, Austroads released the re-vamped version of the 2005 National Guidelines for the Provision of Rest Areas.
HV Rest Areas is a perennial issue that has plans, guidelines and in some cases legislation in place, but after 20 years of submissions, discussion papers, surveys, research and government promises, slow progress has not adequately and efficiently addressed the long term situation of insufficient Rest Areas. Drivers just need an available decent place to stop, rest, revive and survive – sooner rather than later.
We do acknowledge that new Rest Areas have been provided over the years, but the fact remains the industry has lost more Rest Areas than gained yet the freight task has increased.
Some of the Rest Areas were built without trucking industry consideration and cannot be used by the commercial Heavy Vehicle industry. (Plus not to mention the travelling public using HV Rest Areas as overnight camping sites, some local councils closing areas at night and Rest Areas used as Inspection sites or for Road Base storage).
22 years ago, in 1997 the Commonwealth Department of Transport and Regional Development posed the first step in developing a nationally consistent approach to roadside Rest Areas on National Highways through the release of a Discussion Paper on National Highway Rest Area Policy. This paper briefly summarised the status of Rest Areas policy development in each state and provided a description of state expenditure on Rest Areas maintenance and new developments. It provided preliminary discussion on issues relating to Rest Areas signage, public education, truck drivers needs and the provision of other opportunities for drivers to stop and rest.
14 years ago, in 2005 the National Transport Commission (then the NRTC) developed the National Guidelines for the Provision of Rest Area Facilities.
The NTC undertook a project to examine road agency guidelines and practices on the provision of rest areas in rural areas and to propose modifications necessary to cater for the needs of heavy vehicle drivers in non-urban areas.
The NTC guidelines (2005) were based on the then current best practice and taking into account reviews of rest areas in several Australian jurisdictions.
From the 2005 Guidelines……
2.2 Managing Fatigue
In order to manage fatigue, and meet the current driving hours regulations, drivers need the opportunity to take rest breaks (both major and minor) while enroute, either on the side of the road or at a designated rest area. Therefore, it is essential that rest areas be appropriately located and provide adequate facilities to assist drivers in managing their fatigue, and to meet current (and future) driving hours regulation requirements.
2.3 Safe Workplace Practices
The move towards ‘chain of responsibility’ in the road transport arena means that company managers, consignors and drivers each have a responsibility towards the promotion of safe work practices.
The provision of adequate rest areas and the promotion of their use can help employees in the heavy vehicle industry carry out their work safely, meeting company and workplace goals within prescribed driving hour regulations.
Spacing Intervals in the 2005 Guidelines.
The majority of Australian polices specify that the average spacing between Truck Parking Bays or Stopping Places should be around 40--60km, with the spacing intervals in remote regions around 80km. In comparison, the spacing intervals for Truck Pullovers in New South Wales are considerably smaller, with intervals of 10--15km proposed on primary traffic routes.
This year, in January, Austroads released the “Guidelines for the provision of heavy vehicle rest areas”.
The new Guidelines is an updated version to the 2005 National Transport Commission Guidelines incorporating ‘A Proposed HVRA Needs and Prioritisation Methodology’, published by Austroads in 2012.
“Application of the Guidelines by road managers will assist the freight industry to support safe heavy vehicle operations while meeting their requirements within the prescribed heavy vehicle driving hours regulatory framework.”
Industry lead initiative - Green Reflectors (Originally trialled as Blue reflectors over a decade ago)
NSW originally conducted a 5 year trial of the reflector 3-2-1 system on the Newell Highway between Gilgandra and Parkes with approx. 35 heavily used informal truck rest areas marked using a system of reflectors.
In Queensland, the Dept Transport and MainRoads Border District conducted a blue reflector trial involving about 68 sites on highways in the Warwick area and on several sites in the Goondiwindi and Toowoomba areas.
In the Northern Territory, a trial was conducted involving unofficial truck parking bays between Katherine and Tennant Creek.
Crash data for the Newell Highway trial showed that there has been a reduction in heavy vehicle crashes on the trialled section of highway over the course of the trial, compared with the rest of the highway, however the NTC view the results as being not of statistical significance.
Rod Hannifey, well known Industry Safety Advocate has recently been featured in the NHVR promotion of Informal truck rest area markings for a place to Rest, Revive, Survive - Green Reflectors.
Rod is the original driving force behind the trialled Blue Reflector concept. (now Green reflectors) and has successfully promoted the Green Reflector concept across Australia for many years.
Transport Certification Australia (TCA) recently announced it has available usable truck rest area data available with the release of digitised informal rest area information through the Traveller Information Exchange (TIX). This second instalment of consolidated heavy vehicle rest area information is the first time that information about informal rest areas, identified by green reflectors, has been digitised.
The QTA has for many years supported and lobbied for more Formal and Informal Rest Areas and upgrades to existing locations
From 2009 to 2011, the QTA participated in a joint project with DTMR and NTI which saw Bill Manton (formerly Simon National Carriers), Owen Driscoll (formerly NTI) and representatives from Queensland Transport (DTMR) take to the roads across QLD to GPS log and record available locations suitable for Informal and Formal Rest Areas. The QTA assisted with facilitation and support of the project which did see some upgrades to Rest Areas and documentation of possible green reflector rest area locations.
Last year the QTA ran a newsletter article on the QLD Government safety upgrade to the Burnett Highway which has 21 sites marked with the Informal Rest Area Green Reflector system.
Informal Rest Areas, while very welcome by industry as the quickest and cheapest option to provide safe stopping places for Heavy Vehicle Drivers, mainly on inland freight routes, there still remains the fatigue factor and inadequate HV Rest Areas between capital cities and major centres.
Managing Driver Fatigue, Road Safety, and Compliance with the law is imperative to our industry. Sensible and adequate locations for Drivers to Stop, Rest and Revive are essential to the health and wellbeing of our drivers who work and live on the road. Rest Areas for Heavy Vehicle drivers are important Road Safety Infrastructure. Strategies to incorporate Rest Areas into Road construction planning is vital as is the commitment of governments to follow through with promises to build Formal Rest Areas or provide more Green Reflector 3-2-1 locations.