Loneliness, fatigue and stress takes a toll on our truckies
INCREASING pressure on truckies, who face long hours and low wages, is having devastating effects on truck drivers according to Transport Workers Union Queensland branch secretary Peter Biagini.
After 55 years in the industry, former Warwick truck driver Victor Jacobsen said the demands on truck drivers were tougher than ever.
Mr Jacobsen said tighter regulations meant that more truckies were doing the right thing, but the conditions for drivers had worsened in the past 15 years.
"I don't reckon the money is as good as it used to be," Mr Jacobsen said.
Mr Biagini, who grew up in a trucking family, said the demands from clients to push down prices was leading to overworked truck drivers.
"They are doing hours of two people just to make ends meet," Mr Biagini said.
"Their lifestyle causes problems in their personal life, which is leading to a lot of mental issues. We are seeing that every day."
Loneliness, chronic fatigue and stress were some of the everyday struggles truck drivers face according to Mr Biagini.
But he said there was hope for the industry.
"It can be fixed. In the early days in the industry those long-distance drivers we called them the pilots of the highway they were such professionals," Mr Biagini said.
While technology may be keeping some truck drivers from getting vital rest, it can also helptruck drivers manage fatigue.
Mr Biagini said there were systems that would disable trucks from being driven during the hours truck drivers were meant to be resting. Other innovations include infra-red technology that monitors fatigue by scanning pupils of the eyes of truck drivers.
Fatigue laws that require truck drivers to take rest breaks at designated times could often clash with truck drivers' natural waves of tiredness, Mr Biagini said.
Under the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, truck drivers are required to take 7 hours of continuous rest in a 24-hour period.
The also need to keep a log book of their driving hours.
"But a lot of people say a clock can't tell you when you're tired and when you have to sleep," he said.
Frasers Livestock Transport director Ross Fraser said drivers had a responsibility to manage their fatigue, and most did it well.
"I think most of the drivers are getting adequate rest in their stopovers," he said.
Mr Fraser said most of the accredited trucking companies were highly regulated to ensure drivers were meeting health and safety standards.