Let’s talk about work diaries. At best, they’re a tool to keep drivers and all road users safe. However, to the many who are obliged to fill them out, they feel more like a burden, or even a bomb on the dashboard, waiting to go off.
This is because the rules for filling out the diary are long and confusing, and the penalties for breaching them are serious. So many drivers find themselves in trouble for simply making mistakes, and the rest hear the stories and wonder if they might be next.
Many drivers have expressed to me that they feel trapped by the work diary: working hard, doing their best, but essentially carrying around the evidence that could one day land them in court. Some creative drivers have suggested ways around this relationship with the work diary, such as:
- Not signing the bottom of each page, and so not owning the contents of the book
- Writing a disclaimer, like “subject to errors” next to the signature, so that they can’t be charged for mere mistakes
- Simply refusing to fill in or carry a work diary, as they can’t be forced to
- Arguing that the contents of the work diary aren’t admissible because their signature wasn’t witnessed
- Periodically “losing” logbooks and getting new ones so that they are carrying around fewer filled out pages.
While I understand the desire to get around the work diary rules, and I take my hat off to the creativity behind these ideas, unfortunately, they are not sound. They won’t help you avoid or get out of charges because each one is addressed in the rules themselves or the law in general, and in fact, they could land you in more trouble if the court sees your efforts as having a bad attitude towards the fatigue rules, which are there to promote safety.
The truth is, and needs to be: there are no tricks for getting around the work diary.
There needs to be another way for drivers to find confidence in the system that runs deeper than tricks for getting around it. In my opinion, a collaborative approach from law enforcement roadside, to help drivers understand errors instead of imposing punishment for them, would go a long way to demystifying the fatigue laws and promoting road safety for all.
Some Transport for NSW and police officers are fantastic at this already. I thank them and encourage government agencies to continue efforts to make this approach consistent across the board.
As always, if you have any questions you would like to ask an experienced heavy vehicle lawyer about the work diary, ways you’ve heard of to get around it or if you’ve found yourself in some trouble, please get in touch with Ainsley Law.
Please call us today at 0416 224 601 or leave an enquiry.