Feds, QLD and WA lead while others rest

Rest sign with truck

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Governments across Australia need to follow the lead of those in Queensland and Western Australia and work collaboratively with the Commonwealth to improve roadside heavy vehicle stops, the National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) said today.

Last week, Federal Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport, Scott Buchholz, announced an injection of $12.66 million for the Rest Area Upgrade Program it jointly funded with Queensland.

And in February, the WA Government announced that up to 17 rest areas would be improved at a joint cost of $14m.

NatRoad CEO Warren Clark said the announcements showed the value in a joint-government approach with a focus on road safety.

“We’re grateful for action to date but we want to see the pace pick up nationally and for the collaboration to extend to consistency on borders,” Mr Clark said.

“The availability of rest stops has become even more important because of freight delays involving border checks of permits and test results which aren’t consistent between jurisdictions.

“We know, for example, that Transport for NSW is reviewing heavy vehicle rest stops across the State Road network to inform future upgrades.

“There’s been previous consultation in NSW and we still don’t have a settled strategy, so we’d like that to translate to action, sooner rather than later.”

Mr Clark said the industry responded to a 2018 Austroads research report about updating guidelines for truck rest areas with a number of recommendations flowing, but too few have been adopted by any State or Territory government.

“A seminal US study shows that more frequent placement of rest areas has a major, positive impact on fatigue-related accidents,” Mr Clark said.

“That study found that the incidence of commercial vehicle driver at-fault crashes involving sleepiness or fatigue increased where the nearest rest area or truck stop was 32 kilometres away.

“There’s enough evidence like that to prompt a national approach that puts road safety first.”