This month I want to encourage drivers to take a moment to look after themselves.
Driving is not an easy profession. The hours are long and the pressure is high. Tight timeframes on slim profit margins exist against the backdrop of heavy regulation.
For many in our industry the job means weeks away from home. It’s only natural when you come back to want to be there for your family.
It’s no wonder that for many drivers their own health falls onto the backburner. That niggling health concern just doesn’t make it to the top of the list, and the doctor’s appointment you meant to book gets pushed back.
I know it’s easier said than done. I’m guilty of doing it myself.
However, a recent case in Canberra drives home how much higher the stakes are for professional drivers. Ignoring your health concerns can turn what would otherwise be an accident into a criminal offence.
When An Accident Is Not An Accident
In May this year the Canberra Supreme Court sentenced truck driver, Akis Livas, to 3 years and 3 months in gaol for culpable driving causing death.
Mr Akis pleaded guilty to the offence after the truck he was driving collided with a stationary car. Tragically a 4 year old boy was killed in the collision.
Mr Akis had blacked out behind the wheel.
In normal circumstances an unexpected medical event, like a blackout, can mean that an accident, while tragic, is not a criminal offence.
However, things were different in Mr Akis’ case because he was aware that he had sleep apnoea and had been referred for testing by his doctors. He didn’t get those tests done and kept driving.
By continuing to drive when he was aware that he might have a medical condition that could impact his driving, Mr Akis was committing a serious offence.
How To Look After Yourself
None of us want to find ourselves in Mr Akis’ position. The drivers I know want to do a good job and go home to their families. And most importantly, they don’t want to be the cause of pain to another family.
With hindsight, it’s clear that Mr Akis should not have been driving. But I’m sure there are many of us who, if we were being completely honest, would admit to being overdue for a check up.
The only way to keep yourself safe, both physically and legally, is to prioritise your health. Make sure you get checked out as soon as you notice a problem and follow your doctor’s directions. It’s time consuming and it’s a pain but even if it doesn’t mean avoiding a life-altering accident, looking after yourself may keep you feeling well and able to participate in this great industry for longer – and who wouldn’t want that?
If in doubt about fatigue laws or for any HVNL questions or concerns you may have, speak to someone from our team of experienced heavy vehicle lawyers at Ainsley Law. We are always here and more than happy to help.
Please call us today at 0416 224 601 or leave an enquiry.