Electronic logbooks 'a good concept'

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 14:17 18/07/2014

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Mainfreight, the country's largest trucking company, says it wouldn't object if electronic logbooks were made compulsory for truck drivers.

Yesterday, Wellington trucking firm Mana Transport called for the change, saying some companies were falsifying paper logbooks that are designed to help police check whether drivers are taking all their legally required breaks.

The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) said driver fatigue was recorded as a contributing factor in 104 crashes, 18 fatalities and 16 serious injuries involving trucks between 2009 and 2013.

Mainfreight transport division manager Carl George said electronic logbooks that could automatically alert drivers if they were due a break seemed "a good concept" and it planned to meet with one supplier in a couple of weeks.

The NZTA has approved four electronic logbooks for use in New Zealand, including one made by Auckland firm Eroad which Mana Transport will adopt for its fleet of 40 trucks, George said.

Mainfreight's initial meeting was with a different supplier.

George was confident Mainfreight drivers were complying with the rules under the existing paper-based system, but the company would just "get on with it" and implement electronic logging if the Government mandated that.

Existing rules require commercial drivers take a half-hour break after driving for 5.5 hours and to not drive for more than 13 hours in any 24-hour period. They must also take a 24-hour break after being on duty for 70 hours.

Mana Transport chief executive Tony Milham said there were "a lot of companies that are adhering to the rules, and there are some that aren't".

The Eroad system meant it was impossible to falsify records or make a mistake, he said.

A spokeswoman for Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee said yesterday that were no plans to make electronic logbooks mandatory.

They will be compulsory in the United States from 2017 and NZTA spokesman Andy Knackstedt said a similar change was being discussed in Australia.

On Tuesday, coroner Christopher Devonport was unable to rule out fatigue as a possible contributor to the death of Napier man Piki Lewis Jones, who drove his truck through a barrier near Arthur's Pass in 2011 and plunged 30 metres into a riverbed. The inquest found Jones' paper logbook was not accurate at the time of his death.

Mana Transport's Milham said at least one of the approved products was just a straight replacement for paper logbooks.

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He also believed the Eroad system would save Mana Transport money as it wouldn't need to buy paper logbooks costing $12 each and then archive them for years.

"I think we should be as safe and responsible as we possibly can be," he said.

ROAD RULES

Commercial drivers are allowed to be on duty for 70 hours before having a 24 hour break.

Within any 24-hour period, drivers are allowed to work 14 hours, so long as they have two half-hour breaks within that time.

Drivers cannot work continuously for more than 5.5 hours.

Trucking companies that break the rules can be fined up to $25,000.

- Stuff

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