Truckies 'forced' to break law when denied basic rights
TECHNOLOGY is changing the trucking industry, depriving drivers of rest and fuelling fuelling drug issues among younger drivers, a former Warwick truck driver has said after 55 years in the industry.
Recently retired truck driver Victor Jacobsen said dedicated drivers were facing serious struggles due to a lack of adequate rest areas.
He said some were even turning to drugs because they were not getting enough rest.
"They stuff around too much at servos talking to people and texting on their phones and then they get pushed for time," Mr Jacobsen said.
"They take drugs to keep them going a bit."
Transport Workers Union Queensland branch secretary Peter Biagini said a lack of amenities and resting spots could be forcing long-distance truck drivers turn to technology as a distraction.
"A lot of these places drivers can't even have a decent shower or proper toilets and that's what making it hard for them to sleep," Mr Biagini said.
"So they're watching TV or using Facebook or texting to entertain themselves."
Mr Jacobsen said the roadside facilities for truck drivers were dismal.
One parking bay near Coonabarabran was so bad according to Mr Jacobsen, that a woman who made hamburgers for truckies had to leave because of the smell of toilets.
"You should see them, they are dirty and smelly, sometimes there's no toilet paper," he said.
Australian Trucking Association CEO Ben Maguire said guidelines for building truck rest areas in a recent government-funded report denied truck drivers basic rights.
The Austroads report listed access to toilets, lighting and water as "desirable", but not essential.
"Access to toilets, lighting and water are a basic human right," Mr Maguire said.
"These amenities are a requirement. No other workplace would compromise on these facilities, so why should drivers have to?"
"Having appropriate rest area facilities for heavy vehicles is not optional ... it is a fundamental requirement and obligation for road providers and government."
Frasers Livestock Transport director Ross Fraser said the lack of parking bays was an issue for truck drivers Australia-wide.
Mr Fraser said roadside stops were not big enough to accommodate all the trucks and were often "clogged up" by caravan users.
"It is a serious issue. Sometimes truck drivers do have to drive further than they should," he said.
"They plan their fatigue management to stop at those truck stops and they get there and it is full."
Mr Fraser and other representatives from the trucking industry were lobbying state and federal governments to build more roadside parking bays with proper amenities.
"I do think they should be dedicated just for trucks," he said.