As a leading provider of Electronic Work Diaries (EWD) and other electronic solutions, Teletrac Navman believes electronic logging of transport drivers’ work times has a number of benefits for transport operators over the traditional paper work diary.
The company’s Safety Solutions Specialist and former WA police officer, Chris L’Ecluse, suggested that as a part of major trucking industry reforms, EWD will be an integral part of Australian trucking operations within five to ten years.
L’Ecluse, who has had significant experience in transport abroad, said he was in the USA when that country’s transport industry started transitioning from paper to EWD around 2011.
“We’re now facing the same challenges that our US counterparts were facing during their transition to EWD, and in many ways, due to their industry’s much larger size, the issues were worse than ours,” said L’Ecluse.
“I recall being blatantly told by US transport operators at conferences back then, ‘I can’t use this electronic stuff – I have to run hot to make a dollar’.”
L’Ecluse said it was only about five years after their introduction that EWD became mandatory in the US around 2016.
“Nowadays in the US if you’re going to run a commercial operation with a heavy vehicle you must have an EWD,” he said. “It’s largely helped the country get rid of the cowboys and change the mindset of the industry, and I think we’ll experience the same thing in Australia.”
L’Ecluse said he believes it’s too early at this stage to mandate EWDs in Australia.
However, he also suggests most operators recognise the benefits are not just in fatigue management, but also in productivity improvements relating to back-office data collection where EWDs provide a more accurate account of what is going on in the business.
“I’d like to think that within five to ten years we will adopt a similar mindset and mandate EWDs in this country,” L’Ecluse said.
He went on to reinforce this stance by saying that one of the issues currently facing enforcement officers is that there is now a mix of paper and electronic logs, with some drivers having to use both if they work for two different companies where one uses EWD and the other doesn’t.
In this case, L’Ecluse explained the driver has to manage both types of diaries, ensuring they match. If he gets pulled over for a log check, the officer may get confused and err on the side of prosecution rather than caution.
“I believe we will encounter some of these issues but I urge the industry to be patient and the enforcement agencies to be understanding and to listen to the drivers when they say they have met their compliance obligations,” he said.
“We need the enforcement officers to not go into this with the mindset of ‘you’re wrong and I’m right’, but rather, one of understanding and investigation. If, upon investigation, the individual is found to be breaching, then take action.”
L’Ecluse added that despite experiencing a few lumps and bumps along the way, most organisations that have adopted the EWD are giving fantastic feedback on how it is helping them in day-to-day operations.
“There’s always going to be ongoing discussion around how technology can better inform transport operations, particularly fatigue management and productivity,” said L’Ecluse.
“I do believe that the first two or three years of voluntary EWD adoption in Australia will be a great learning time for all concerned,” he said.
“I’m 100 per cent sure that those operators who have taken the option of introducing EWD will be the voice of change because they will be able to articulate the benefits impartially to authorities like the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator about the benefits and pitfalls.
“I’m convinced that the benefits will far outweigh the pitfalls – which will be overcome in a short amount of time,” he said.