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Toilets, lights and water are not just 'desirable'

23 May 2018

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has called for major changes to the guidelines for building truck rest areas as access to toilets, lighting and water have been classified as ‘desirable’, not a requirement.

“Our roads and rest areas are a driver’s workplace and we have little chance of resolving fatigue if drivers are not provided with basic human rights to get the job done,” ATA CEO Ben Maguire said today.

The ATA was responding to an Austroads research report on updating the guidelines for truck rest areas. Austroads is a research organisation funded by the Australian and state governments.

“Access to toilets, lighting and water are a basic human right, yet the highest proposed truck rest area classifications only list these as desirable,” Mr Maguire said.

“These amenities are a requirement. No other workplace would compromise on these facilities, so why should drivers have to?” he said.

“Having appropriate rest area facilities for heavy vehicles is not optional. It’s not nice to have: it is a fundamental requirement and obligation for road providers and government,” Mr Maguire said.

In its response to the report, the ATA has made a number of recommendations:

  • Governments should provide truck rest areas every 20 kilometres, allowing drivers to comply with work diary rules
  • There should be no general and caravan parking in the truck section of any rest area, and this must be enforced
  • Specific engagement of women drivers should be undertaken on the provision of toilet facilities at rest area locations, and on whether these should be unisex or gender specific, and
  • Guidelines must prevent road agencies from temporarily closing rest areas to store roadworks materials.

“The Austroads report does not go far enough to acknowledge the need to treat heavy vehicle operators with respect, nor the important link these basic amenities have on the safety and wellbeing of drivers,” Mr Maguire said.

“There should be a strong set of guidelines, an independent audit on the current state of rest areas, and then a funded national plan from governments to address the gaps,” he said.

Mr Maguire recently spent a night at the Partridge VC Rest Area in NSW to walk in the shoes of a truck driver and experience first-hand what managing fatigue is like in a ‘best practice’ truck rest area.

“Spending the night in a rest area was my chance to better understand life on the road and the shortcomings of Australia’s rest areas,” he said.

“The amount of noise was far louder than what is acceptable in a normal workplace and the bathroom facilities were poorly lit.

“If I were a lone female truck driver pulling up for a rest, I would not feel comfortable nor safe using these facilities,” he said.

Read the full submission.