Tuesday, May 8, 2012

More Truck Stops Following Pressure from Road Haulage Group

Good and Bad News for Aussie Truck Operators
Shipping News Feature

AUSTRALIA – WORLDWIDE – Following our piece last month criticising the amount of deaths caused to and by truck drivers suffering from fatigue and the scourge of sleep apnoea some good news today following pressure on the Government by road haulage group the Australian Trucking Association (ATA), and in particular its Chairman, David Simon.

After lobbying the authorities the ATA has managed to extract a promise of financial assistance to provide more rest areas, essential given the paucity of such facilities at the moment. An amount of A$140 million has now been set aside to provide truck rest areas and other productivity measures over the seven years from 2012-13 to 2018-19. David Simon gave a guarded welcome to the news saying:

“The fatigue laws require truck drivers to take regular breaks, but there simply aren’t enough rest areas. The Government has built or upgraded more than 70 rest areas under its existing funding program, which expires in June, but there is still a long way to go. The program will also fund productivity measures like bridge upgrades to enable us to use vehicles like B-doubles and B-triples on more routes. These trucks carry more freight than conventional semitrailers, so you can do the same job with fewer trucks, leading to safer, more productive and more environmentally friendly outcomes.

“I’m up at Parliament House this evening, and I have already congratulated and thanked Minister Albanese for this outstanding decision, which delivers on one of the ATA’s long standing strategic priorities.”

Despite cutting A$33.6 billion from its budgethe Government intends to continue with its road program and Mr Simon welcomed the news but sounded a note of caution over the financial straits which many freight haulage outfits find themselves in and also criticised the administration’s policies on fuel and truck registration saying:

“The Government will offer an extra A$3.56 billion toward duplicating the Pacific Highway in NSW. It will extend the Black Spot Program for another five years, which will prevent thousands of accidents, and will extend the Roads to Recovery program for local councils as well. Every Australian will win from the Government’s commitment to building better roads, because the benefits of lower transport costs and better safety percolate through the whole economy.

“Trucking businesses are under continued pressure from their customers to cut costs. In addition, many are facing deteriorating payment terms, with customers not paying their bills for 60 days or more. The Government’s decision to allow companies to carry back up to $1 million worth of losses and get a refund of the tax they paid in earlier years will benefit incorporated trucking businesses facing temporary losses but all trucking operators will be hit by the decision by transport ministers to increase the fuel tax on the industry by 10.4 per cent, or 2.4 cents per litre, and dramatically increase some registration charges. The budget papers show this decision will cost trucking operators an additional A$698 million over four years for the fuel tax increase alone.

“Australia’s transport ministers will meet on Friday 18th May. At the meeting, they should reconsider or defer this tax increase given the budget forecasts and the tight or negative margins across the industry.”

Anyone concerned that they may be overtired due to sleep apnoea is advised to read our previous article for guidance and seek appropriate medical help as the condition can be dealt with using non invasive treatment.