BREAKING: Rest stops ordered to remain open

National Cabinet exemption mandated following truck driver wellbeing concerns

BREAKING: Rest stops ordered to remain open
Many have called for ongoing driver access to food and rest facilities


National Cabinet has taken heed of industry concerns for truck drivers during the Covid-19 crisis, declaring roadhouses, dedicated truck-stop facilities and driver lounges remain open – so long as appropriate social-distancing and hygiene measures are followed.

The move comes in response to many closures, denying drivers food, restrooms, shower facilities and fatigue management capabilities as they undertake the freight task.

Approved by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), the key decision-making committee for health emergencies comprising state and territory chief health officers, the use of such facilities will only be permitted for heavy-vehicle drivers and where coronavirus-related restrictions around social distancing and hygiene can apply, according to federal transport minister Michael McCormack.

"We have heard [industry] concerns loud and clear and this is a common sense solution which ensures heavy vehicle drivers have access to essential amenities, can take regular breaks and eat properly whilst delivering their vital cargo," McCormack says.

"I thank the AHPPC and National Cabinet for agreeing to these common-sense changes for the benefit of our truckies."

Assistant minister for road freight Scott Buchholz says the decision balances the need for safety truck drivers from a fatigue management point and their risk of exposure to the virus.

"With this exemption now in place, I do ask that facilities that can open per the social distancing and hygiene requirements of the new exemption do so," Buchholz adds.

"I want to thank the heavy vehicle sector and the peak bodies for working cooperatively with government and raising this from the grassroots level to the attention of the commonwealth, AHPPC and the National Cabinet."

More on truck-driver treatment concerns during the pandemic, here

The industry and regulatory response and been swift and appreciative.

"Yet another important step for heavy vehicle driver safety and keeping trucks moving during this time," the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) says

"Thank you to all the drivers who raised these issues with us over the past week."

The Australian Trucking Associationa (ATA) says truck drivers are essential and deserve better.

"They need to be able to take a break on the road; they can’t just wander out of their home office and grab something from the fridge," ATA chair Geoff Crouch says.

"I want to thank Michael McCormack and Scott Buchholz for responding to the industry’s calls so rapidly, and the National Cabinet for recognising the importance of this issue."  

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) points out heavy-vehicle drivers are working harder than ever during this crisis to keep supplies moving and it is vital that decisions are made to support their safety and wellbeing.

"Heavy vehicle drivers are well-aware of their fatigue management obligations, and over the past week it has been distressing to hear from some that they have been unable to access shower facilities, healthy meal choices or even just seating areas when it comes time for them to take their breaks," ALC CEO Kirk Coningham says.

"The decision made by the National Cabinet last night is a common-sense solution that ensures drivers can access the facilities they need to protect their health on the road and enhance the safety of all road users."


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