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24th June 2021, a fine outcome.

Goodaye all. Sorry for a late and thence, mid-week post. Another week closer to a full (hopefully but maybe only 90% for the tendon as it had shrunk and they could only reattach it so far up) recovery. I can start weights in two weeks and hope to be ready by the time the new TIV is delivered.

I will offer a large thank you to Highway Advocates for both advice and representing me in court in Dubbo yesterday. I was fined for exceeding 6 hours work in a 6.25 hour period from October last year. I was stopped just coming out of Dubbo by a Highway Patrol officer I had met only once before. At the time I was not given a chance to look and comment, other than told, here it is. I did say I had a tracking device in the truck and he was welcome to check it, but he was not interested in doing so.

When the ticket arrived, I then asked for a review, explaining both that I marked my logbook at midnight at Euroa and again the start of the next day, yes I had made a mistake in not marking a 15 minute break, but I also sent a screenshot of the Teletrac device clearly showing I had a 15 minute break from 11.57PM to 12.12AM. I asked for the ticket to be withdrawn, also detailing the way the logbook forces us to give away our time. We must count work back, so had I started at 8.07 PM and finished at 2.07 AM, I would be required to show 6.25 hours worked, yet had only worked 6 hours.

Now had I worked 10 hours straight, worked 16 hours in a day, or done something really stupid and unsafe, I would expect and accept a fine. We are talking about a possible 5 minute breach at the end of a days work (following which I had an 8 hour break) a driver with a good record trying to do his best and when I asked for the fine to be rescinded, they said, “We cannot rescind the fine” which is crap. They can, but would not. Is the government so needy that they will simply fine anyone for anything, even when it is so minor, not a road safety issue and I not only showed I had simply made a mistake, I had possibly not even committed an offence, but then I could and did, show a third party tamperproof device that confirmed I had a break, there-by nullifying the exceeding 6 hours driving.

Interestingly, the dates on the ticket charging me with breaking the law were incorrect. We could have asked for a dismissal on that basis, but they would simply have sought to amend it. How can I make a 5 or 10 minute mistake and be given a $453 fine, when they can make a two day error and then say, we will just amend it?

NVHR are publicly saying (and I welcome their intent and believe it is genuinely being driven from the top) that they intend to pursue on road enforcement first as education, before punishment. Yes, if you make the same mistake three times, or have a continued bad record and then can be seen to perhaps disregard the law, you deserve and will get a penalty. However, if it is minor, does not affect roads safety and could be an error instead of deliberate deceit, then a warning is far more likely to be a fair response. Am I being a dreamer, do you think we should be punished for every minor error and does that improve road safety?

This is one of the main reasons NRFA endorsed the “Position on Police Policing of HVNL” requesting such powers be removed from Police. If the NHVR are the overarching authority for the HVNL and the Police are not trained to the same level as NHVR inspectors, then they should not be policing the HVNL. We do not have a review process, we have a farce and those who simply do not have to live on the road with the over-zealous and virtually punitive penalties and fines we suffer all too often, for things that have no real road safety benefit or value.

We need someone to help us get a fair go till such times as the NHVR act and change the way we are targeted, punished and abused. The HVNL review may go some way to changing the penalties, giving some flexibility and fairness, but that is still some way off.

Thank you again to the Highway Advocates team, they know transport law, they recognise our issues and on road problems and if you feel you have been wronged and unfairly or incorrectly charged, then contact them and they may be able to help. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

By truckright

An Australian truckie aiming to improve both how the road transport industry is seen and understood by the public and to improve road safety for all.

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