Legal Notes by David King-Christopher BA MJ LLb (Hons)

Just a brief note which you may want to use to update your driver fatigue and work diary entry policies if you need to.

I recently ran a plea concerning driver fatigue that was originally 255 Company and Director offences for failure to have in place adequate policies, procedures and checking-systems to ensure drivers did not enter false work and rest times in their work diaries.

After 6 months of negotiations and submissions the 255 charges at hearing were reduced to 149 charges; roughly half that number for the Company and half for the Director.

Even still the maximum fines for Company were $800k and for the Director $300k. The driver fatigue system in place at the time of the offences was one which saw

office staff check that work and rest times had been entered and that those times did

not exceed the fatigue regulations.

The checking system itself was of the driver’s work diaries without cross-referencing any other data or reports.

In the court’s view the work diaries should have been cross-checked with other available source material like fuel receipts, timesheets of drivers, toll roamings and GPS tracking records.

The company’s failure to have such a system in place resulted in fines for the

Company of $214k and for the Director $19k.

Of 78 charges, we were able to have 65 of those dismissed without proceeding to criminal convictions and no financial penalty for the Director. If you are not cross-checking please do so!

In the view of the Court the check must not only be of calculating work and rest time but going that further step to make sure the entries made are correct (so that raises another issue of what constitutes work and rest time for instance washing down the truck or carrying out minor repairs or carrying out a pre-journey check…)

Incidentally, the drivers concerned, four in total, were offered immunity from prosecution if they assisted with the RMS investigation.

Also, the most frequent error made by the drivers was counting refuelling, loading and unloading as rest time (and not work time) which resulted in a breach of taking 7 hours continuous rest.

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5 years ago

even with tracking and the company cross check it they still didnt inform of any mistakes