Driver fatigue management

Driver fatigue is a foreseeable risk for all drivers. For drivers of commercial vehicles it is an occupational hazard which, under Occupational Safety and Health laws, must be managed by a safe system of work.

  Fatigue management for commercial vehicle drivers

Heavy vehicle travelling on a country road
Heavy vehicle travelling on a country road

Driver fatigue is a foreseeable risk for all drivers. For drivers of commercial vehicles it is an occupational hazard which, under Occupational Safety and Health laws, must be managed by a safe system of work.

The Code of Practice on Fatigue Management for Commercial Vehicle Drivers provides guidance on what a safe system should consider. The Code provides guidance to industry, the authorities and the Courts. The Code provides a defence against prosecution and the basis for prosecution.

Driver fatigue is one of the most significant safety hazards facing the road transport industry world-wide. Bus and truck crashes are dangerous and costly to all road users, and fatigue is a major contributor.

Fatigue means a gradual loss of alertness that leads to occasional nodding off and then sleep. Fatigue causes drowsy driving. Drowsy drivers are more likely to have a crash by running off the road or having a head-on collision.

The three main causes of drowsy driving are too little sleep, driving when you would normally be asleep and working or being awake for very long hours. Other factors like highway boredom, road conditions and weather compound these major causes.

To prevent fatigue related crashes, these factors need to be managed through correct scheduling practices, training and education. The Code is an important tool in making this accepted industry practice.

Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (Safety branch): Worksafe
Opens in a new window Road Safety Commission: Fatigue

National Driver Work Diary

You must carry and complete a National Driver Work Diary if you drive:

  • a vehicle or vehicle combination weighing more than 12 tonnes or a bus fitted to carry more than 12 adults including the driver; and
  • outside of Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

You must record your work and rest details of all trips more than 100 kilometres from your driver base.

Find out more about the National Driver Work Diary.

  Review of the Commercial Driver Fatigue Management Code of Practice

The Code of Practice has been reviewed and a number of key changes to the operating standards have been made.

The key operating standards and components of the Code have also been incorporated into regulation under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The regulations, which came into effect on 1 July 2003,†will improve enforcement of fatigue management and ensure that companies are not able to financially benefit from operating outside accepted industry practice.

The changes to the operating standards reflect a change in emphasis from hours of work to hours of rest. Adequate and timely rest is key to the management of fatigue and safer work practices. At the same time more operational flexibility is allowed for operators and drivers but within constraints.

Contact us for further information.

Page last updated: Tue Nov 28 2023 3:08:00 PM