As a company who travels anywhere, we thought this is a relevant topic for our own staff but for all our clients, and anyone who travels by driving. This blog illustrates what we as a company do when driving and our policy. These are only guidelines and examples.
Driving and fatigue is outlined in the Code of Practice – Fatigue Management for Commercial Vehicle Drivers and by the WA Department of Transport in a Guidance Note, titles, Driver Fatigue Management. Although the Code of Practice is aimed at Commercial Drivers valuable information can be obtained and applied in a non-commercial environment.
Remote Country Driving
Definition: Greater than 2 hours continuous driving outside of a Metro area.
If driving outside of Perth or other major WA cities, roads are long, monotonous, straight, flat, stretches, often dusty unsealed and some places even unfenced (animal hazards). Traffic levels in the more remote country areas can be limited with the chance of not seeing a vehicle for long periods of time and these roads have limited police enforcement. Remote country roads are also shared with some of the largest and longest road trains in the world which commonly travel 100km/h. A lack of concentration in this environment is more likely to result in a collision with a tree, leaving the driver seriously injured and stranded. When driving in country areas, particularly remote country areas it is of paramount importance that the following procedure is followed.
Procedure for Remote Country Driving
Vehicle prestart check
- Check the main safety features of the vehicle before departing,
- Vehicles are fitted with a means of communication (mobile phone and radio)
- 10L of drinking water (maybe pack a Camelback) and;
- A first aid kit
In remote areas a scheduled call system will be used, the procedure will be as follows:
- Office will provide the contact, and a map showing the route that the designated driver will take
- The designated driver will contact the office to let office staff know that a vehicle check has been conducted and the above kit is in the vehicle
- The designated driver will provide office staff with an estimated time of arrival and let staff know that he/she is about to depart for the destination
- Once at the destination, the designated driver will contact the office letting staff know that he/she arrived at the destination
If the designated driver has not reached the destination by the estimated time of arrival;
- Office staff will phone the contact at the destination to confirm arrival of the designated driver
- If the designated driver has not arrived, the contact will begin a search
- Once the driver has been located, the driver will inform head office immediately
- If the designated driver has been involved in an accident or is stranded the contacts Incident Reporting and Investigation procedure will be followed
Definition: Any Metro area or city driving, eg. Perth, Mandurah, Geelong, etc.
In contrast to the remote country, driving in the Perth Metropolitan area can be hazardous due to congested traffic which is still moving fast with limited space. Perth Metro roads were not originally designed to cope with a fast-growing city. This driving environment is such that a lack of concentration could mean a head-on collision with an oncoming vehicle and multiple fatalities.
Procedure for City Driving
Vehicle prestart check
- Check the main safety features of the vehicle before departing
- Vehicles are fitted with a means of communication (mobile phone and/or radio)
- Drinking water should be available, amount not specified and;
- First Aid kit
- If departing from a destination other than the office the designated driver must inform the office of his/her departure
- If held up by traffic or the trip on return to the office is taking longer than usual the designated driver must inform office staff
- Beware when driving directly into bright sunlight, sunglasses are recommended, use your car’s sun visor
- If the designated driver is unwell or suffering from fatigue prior to driving an alternate person should do the job or the designated driver must become the passenger
- Be vigilant during the final kilometres to the destination, most crashes occur on the final leg of the journey
Consider Environmental Factors
The climate is an important factor with high temperatures for a substantial part of the year along with heavy downpours during cold fronts and thunderstorms. In remote locations, thunderstorms can be more frequent especially in the northern tropical regions during the West season. To counter this, BOM releases weather warnings which normally give you notice of approaching bad weather.
Make sure your vehicle is mechanically sound so that it can safely handle inclement weather. If driving in hot environments, make sure that your air-conditioning is functioning correctly without the vehicle overheating.
Check windscreen wipers, tyres and fuel. Make sure your vehicle is regularly serviced by a competent mechanic.
What is our policy?
The WA Code of Practice for Fatigue Management for Commercial Vehicle Drivers states that drivers need to take at least six hours’ rest in any 24-hour period and that they must take two periods each of at least 24 hours’ rest in a fourteen-day period. This is directed at professional drivers of heavy vehicles.
The SOS – Switched Onto Safety Policy is based on guidelines for CSIRO and Federal Department of Transport employees, RoSPA and DoT Government policy. SOS – Switched Onto Safety policy is that ideally, there should be a break of 15-20 minutes every two hours. No single driving stint can exceed 4 hours without a break and more than 10 hours driving can be undertaken in any 18-hour period.
Each break should include exercise and stretching; minimally a walk around and a check of the vehicle. Nominally no more than 400km per day should be attempted on dirt roads and no more than 600 km per day on sealed roads. These are maximus and drivers need to monitor their own work performance and road conditions and take regular periods of rest to avoid fatigue. The driver must maintain a written diary entry of any trip which exceeds a single days’ drive.
Whilst fatigue is usually at its worst in the early hours of the morning, the worst times to be on the road in the bush are at dawn, sunset and just after dusk. Visibility is impaired by poor light or glare and diurnal animals become active. Unfortunately, these times frequently correspond to the times when workers are travelling to and from work. Extra care should be reduced accordingly. Encourage any passengers to assist in watching the road verges. Collision with animals poses a significant threat, especially at dawn and just after dusk. Bull-bars on vehicles will not prevent significant damage to the vehicle and the threat to the vehicle’s occupants at highway speeds. Slow to 40km/h where there are cattle on unfenced verges. Driving long distances at night is discouraged by SOS – Switched Onto Safety and will only be undertaken in emergencies and only if the vehicle has a bull-bar and spotlights.
Off-road driving presents a special case and is discussed separately. Such driving is normally for relatively short distances and should not exceed 80 km/h.