Prominent livestock associations have urged drivers returning to Victoria via New South Wales (NSW) not to compromise road safety in order to comply with COVID-19 rules.
The warning follows advice from Victorian health officials that drivers should minimise rest breaks and avoid overnight stays in NSW. All persons returning to Victoria now require a permit with those having stayed overnight in NSW also requiring a special exemption.
Livestock and Rural Transporters Association of Victoria (LRTAV) President, David Rogers, said that the Victorian health advice and permit system will encourage unsafe driving behaviours.
“At this time of year many Victorians travel north into NSW and Queensland to visit relatives or enjoy a holiday. After the year we have just endured this is quite understandable,” said Rogers.
“However, while holidays are a great change of pace they typically also involve more eating, drinking, socialising, sun exposure and recreational activities which can induce fatigue. It is important that drivers are mindful of these factors and do not push their limits when driving home.
“The Victorian health advice to minimise rest breaks is potentially very dangerous. On top of this, many drivers will be stressed about the prospect of being denied an exemption to enter Victoria if do they need to rest overnight in NSW. The last thing governments should be doing is discouraging rest or increasing stress on drivers.”
Livestock and Bulk Carriers Association of New South Wales (LBRCA) President, Paul Pulver, said that drivers should assess their own capabilities and plan journeys accordingly.
“It is a sad fact that road crash statistics increase when inexperienced drivers travel during holiday periods,” said Pulver.
“NSW is a big state. It is around 1,000km by road from the Queensland to Victorian borders – a 12 hour trip with short rest breaks – and that doesn’t include any additional driving at either end. Not everyone is capable of driving this distance in a single shift and individual circumstances can be very different. Those who are inexperienced, loaded with luggage, towing a trailer, travelling with children or experiencing a health condition have good reason to be cautious.
“With increased traffic volumes on the road there is little room for error. I can appreciate that drivers need to be COVID Safe, but we cannot undermine the important road safety message that governments and community advocates have been promoting for the past two decades. Instead of discouraging rest, Governments should be suggesting safer routes and safer rest stops where people are able to socially distance.”
Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association of Australia (ALRTA) National President, Scott McDonald, said that drivers can plan safe journeys, rest when necessary and be Covid Safe.
“Professional truck drivers who travel long distances are fatigue regulated and must take mandatory rest breaks which may include overnight stays. Since early 2020, interstate truck drivers have also been required to undergo regular COVID-19 testing and adhere to a Covid-Safe plan,” said McDonald.
“During this time there has been no known COVID-19 transmission events linked to freight movements. It is absolutely possible to be COVID Safe without compromising road safety.
“For those who are unaccustomed to driving long distances it is even more important to plan safe journeys and rest whenever necessary.
“I call on the Victorian Government to refocus public messages and resources around how to be COVID Safe without compromising road safety.”