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Fatigue management

On 10 February 2014 the Heavy Vehicle National Law 2012 (HVNL) commenced, replacing existing laws governing the operation of all vehicles over 4.5 tonnes gross vehicle mass in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania.

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) was established to administer the HVNL and is now the first point of contact for the majority of your heavy vehicle business.

Driver fatigue

This page contains general information about the management of the fatigue of heavy vehicle drivers as well as relevant links to the NHVR’s website and the current legislation.

Download the free RestSpace app showing heavy vehicle rest areas around Australia from iTunes or Google Play

What is driver fatigue?
Driver fatigue is when a driver’s ability to drive safely is reduced as a result of being physically or mentally tired or sleepy. 

Driver fatigue or is a significant safety hazard for the road transport industry. The main causes of ‘drowsy driving’ are too little sleep, driving at times when you would normally be asleep and working or being awake for very long hours.

Fatigue regulated heavy vehicle
National laws are now in place to combat heavy vehicle driver fatigue. The laws are for drivers of fatigue regulated heavy vehicles which are:

  • vehicles with a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of over 12t 
  • combinations when the total of the GVM is over 12t 
  • buses over 4.5t with a seating capacity of more than 12 adults (including the driver)
  • a truck or a combination including a truck, with a GVM of over 12t with a machine or implement attached to it

Some heavy vehicles which meet the above criteria are not classed as fatigue regulated heavy vehicles. These include trams, motor vehicles modified to primarily operate as a machine or implement (such as agricultural machinery, bulldozers, tractors, etc) and motor homes specifically modified for residential purposes (not just built with a sleeper berth).

The fatigue laws cover:

  • work and rest hours 
  • work diaries 
  • fatigue management accreditation schemes
  • chain of responsibility.

National driver work diaries

Drivers of fatigue regulated heavy vehicles must complete and carry a national driver work diary if they are, or if they have in the last 28 days been:

  • working more than 100km from their base location 
  • working under any fatigue management accreditation (Basic Fatigue Management (BFM)/Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM) 
  • driving under a work and rest hours exemption.

The driver’s base location is the place from which the driver normally works and receives instructions. This may be the 'garage address' of the vehicle, the location from which the business is operated, or another place such as a depot or site.

Further information about the national driver work diary requirements is available from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator. 

Work diary exemptions

The NHVR has issued the National Primary Production Work Diary Exemption (Notice) 2018 (No. 1). The Notice exempts the following from the requirement to carry and complete a work diary for work completed within a 160km radius of the driver’s base:

  • persons who drive fatigue-regulated heavy vehicles transporting primary produce between a primary production facility and another primary production facility or to a point of sale, processing centre and a direct return.

Purchasing a national driver work diary

Work diaries are available in Queensland from Transport and Main Roads’ customer service centres, Queensland Government Agent Program offices, and some regional police stations.

Fatigue offence demerit points and penalties

Demerit point offences and fines are in force for drivers of fatigue regulated heavy vehicles who commit work diary and/or work/rest driving-hour breaches.

Department of Transport and Main Roads’ Inspectors and Queensland Police Officers continue to have responsibility for enforcement of the national fatigue laws in Queensland.

Electronic work diaries

An Electronic Work Diary (EWD) is an electronic device or system to monitor and record the work and rest times of a driver.

EWDs will improve compliance and boost safety for all road users through:

  • improved data accuracy and transparency to drivers, operators and authorised officers
  • provision of real time data which enables operators to respond immediately to actual breaches and monitor performance over time
  • in-vehicle driver information which enables drivers to plan their work and rest and take action when alerted to an imminent or actual breach.

For more information visit the NHVR's electronic work diaries website.

Further information

Visit the NHVR website for more fatigue management information and fact sheets. 

Last updated
13 November 2018