Counting Time – When does it reset?

A recent article in Big Rigs surveyed a number of drivers regarding Fatigue Management. By far the biggest issue seemed to be about having to stop for 7 hours when “I don’t feel tired”.

If the complaints are about the 7 hour rest time, then they must also be about not being able to work more hours. The conclusion must be that if you don’t want to be stuck to the 7 hour compulsory break, you want to work longer hours.

It is a fact that many people don’t realise they are fatigued even when they are. You can work 14 hours and have your 60 minutes of mandated break times and not feel tired, but you are still fatigued. More …….

Remember a person who has been awake for 16-17 hours will be suffering similar effects to someone with a blood alcohol content of 0.05. If you have gotten up, driven to work and then commenced your 14 hours work time, had an extra hour for breaks, you would be in this range.

The options for fatigue management are set for good reasons, to reduce fatigue risk for heavy vehicle drivers.  Last year there were 205 heavy vehicle driver fatalities.  Reducing the risk requires you to think about your overall work time. The reset period for all fatigue management options is 24 hours from your last major break. To put it simply, when you begin a 12 hour (Standard hours) or 14 hour (BFM) shift, you cannot start the next until at least 24 hours later. If you start work at 7am and work your 12 or 14 hours, you can’t start your next shift until 7am the following day. Under BFM this means your rest breaks are 10 hours including your mandatory 15 minute breaks and the 7 hour compulsory break.

The same thing applies under Standard hours. you are required to take 5 hours as short breaks or rest time and a seven hour continuous rest break or 12 hours work, 12 hours non work

Looking at it another way, under BFM you have 17 hours to complete your 14 hours of work before the 7 hour break is required. For example;

Sam starts work at 5 am and drives until 12 n. He then has to wait 2 1/2 hours to be loaded for a return journey. He has already taken his first required 15 minute break after 6 hours driving and now takes the next 2 ½ hours as rest time. Traffic is heavy so he arrives back at the depot and finishes work at 10 pm after taking another required 15 minute break. Because he had a long rest break in the middle of the day he does not feel tired. However, because he has driven the maximum hours allowable under BFM he cannot drive again until 5 am the next day and therefore must take the 7 hour break. As we have said, once you reach your maximum driving hours your rest time is a total of 10 hours including your mandated rest times and the 7 hour continuous break and it’s up to you on how you manage this time.

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5 years ago

How many of the 205 heavy vehicle fatalities that are quoted were the truck drivers fault and fatigue related

Russell Wattie
1 year ago

The problem with the 7 hour break is not wanting to work more hours in a 24 hour period, I prefer to have a 5 hour break as I generally wake up after 4 hours sleep, then have a 3 or 4 hour nap in the afternoon.
The mandatory 7 hour break doesn’t allow me to manage my fatigue the way I need to.
Still happy to only work 12 or 14 hrs, but in a way that truly allows for fatigue management, not paperwork compliance