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Eight Minutes of Grace

It might not seem like much, and it certainly appears to be the thin edge of the wedge in a regulatory push to ultimately make written work diaries obsolete, but the granting of an eight minute ‘tolerance’ for truck drivers who choose to use electronic work diaries (EWDs) will at least provide some protection from a small, over-officious breach of work hours.

After all, the next truck driver to be infringed by an officious upholder of transport regulations for being just a few minutes outside his or her allowed driving time certainly won’t be the first.

However, according to a statement by the National Transport Commission (NTC), ‘Truck drivers choosing electronic work diaries won’t be fined for small breaches of less than eight minutes under new policy settings agreed to by transport ministers.’

Or, as NTC chief executive Paul Retter put it, “These new rules mean that drivers who inadvertently go a few minutes over time between rest breaks won’t be penalised for these small breaches.”

However, anyone thinking of sneaking an extra eight minutes of work time had better think again. As the NTC explains, ‘The eight minute rule will not apply to rest time and drivers will have a total of eight minutes for a whole 24 hour period, starting from a major rest break.

‘For example, a driver who exceeds work time by five minutes in the first period of work may only exceed work time by up to three minutes for the rest of that 24 hour period, unless the driver makes up for the five minutes at a later time in that day. This is intended to make it impractical to deliberately schedule the additional eight minutes as work time.’

Meantime, the NTC certainly doesn’t hide its support for the wider use of electronic work diaries as part of an overall compliance package delivered by telematics technology.

“The implementation of EWDs will be voluntary, but written diaries are onerous,” Paul Retter says, before adding, “The NTC has been given the green light to develop a new compliance framework for telematics with clear rules for enforcement officers.”

Fine, but is the driver with a written work diary who’s up to eight minutes over his or her allowed time any less safe, or any more deserving of an infringement, than a driver with an electronic ‘book’ who’s also up to eight minutes over time?

Most fair-minded people wouldn’t think so.

Source: Leading independent industry journalist.

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