Why Fatigue Laws Reduce Load Restraint Safety

You often receive the most insightful comments from the older more experienced truck drivers.

Late last year, an older truck driver with over 40 years experience, made the point to me that Fatigue Laws reduced Load Safety.

Not getting what he meant, I asked him to explain, and when he did , I certainly could not fault his logic.

Fatigue Laws and Load Restraint.

Before Fatigue Laws for Truck drivers were brought in, “I would load up and then drive about 30 minutes up the road and stop.”

The purpose of the stop was to get out and check the load.  “I use to make sure that the load hadn’t moved and that the restraints were still tight.  It use to be common practice among us Truckies.”

He said, most loads either move or restraints come loose early on in the trip.

“So we learnt over the years, and most drivers did it, to stop down the road somewhere between 30 minutes or an hour later, (usually when we were clear of town), to check the load.”

Now, the practice is not to do that now.

Why Fatigue Laws Create a Load Restraint Risk

Alright I am the first to admit, I could not make the logical jump to what the problem was that he trying to point out.

He explained it this way, and when you think about it – he is right.

When the laws first came in that you drive for 5 hours, then have a 15 minute break, the practice of stopping to check loads continued.

“Overtime however the practice has crept in that Drivers, Schedulers and Supervisors have begun to think or plan that you have to drive to as close to the maximum hours you can before you take a break, ie drive for 5 hours then take a break.”

So drivers, especially the new ones that have entered the Industry since the Fatigue laws started, don’t stop “down the road” to check their loads.

Instead they drive for 5 hours, then if they remember they will check the load.

Actually its worth noting: That if they check their load during a break – its actually classed as work – so theoretically they are not taking a break.

So that was his point – the Fatigue Laws have unintentionally created a culture of driving to the Fatigue Time limits before taking a break, and not focusing on the job at hand – ie the safe transport of a load.

What are you thoughts?

It is an interesting point.


Mike Wood

Mike is qualified in both Civil and Mechanical Engineering, with Post Graduate qualifications in Logistics and Business Administration and is a qualified RABQSA/Exemplar auditor. The initial phase of his career involved public roads and transportation authorities in technical and management roles with both VicRoads and the Victorian Ministry of Transport and designed Melbourne’s time public transport system Mike then moved into private industry and over several years, held General Manager positions with major logistics service providers with turnovers in excess of $500 million. As his expertise and knowledge grew he moved into consulting and became Principal Consultant with Dawson Consulting, one of the largest Supply Chain and Logistics consulting companies in Australia Mike is now Managing Director of LATUS Business Solutions, which is a highly regarded Business Improvement practice, operating in 3 major area; • Supply Chain & Logistics design; • Compliance implementation & management; • Risk analysis& Safety management • Leading training provider (RTO) in the area of Lean Logistics & Business He has been a Director of transport and logistics industry associations in Queensland and Victoria.

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