Fatigue under the Heavy Vehicle National Law

Fatigue under the Heavy Vehicle National Law

Heavy vehicle fatigue offences under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) involve breaching the permitted driving hours in a fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle.

If your vehicle is a fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle (a truck, combination or bus over 12 tonnes) and you are driving standard hours more than 100 kilometres from your base, then you are required to carry a work diary (paper or electronic). If you are on basic fatigue management (BFM) hours, advanced fatigue management (AFM) hours or exemption hours then you have to carry a work diary regardless.

Driving arrangements for a fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle can either be:

  • solo, or
  • two-up.

Driving hours are:

  • standard,
  • BFM, or
  • AFM.

Contravention of these hours are broken up into many categories. For example over a 24 hour period you cannot drive (solo or two-up) more than:

  • 12 hours if standard,
  • 14 hours if BFM, or
  • 15 and a half hours if AFM.

If you do it is an offence, these particular offences are categorised as:

  • minor,
  • substantial,
  • severe, or
  • critical.

Penalties range from $4,000 to $15,000.

Section 737 also allows for increase of penalties in accordance with the method prescribed by the national regulations.

The main purpose for Chapter 6 of the HVNL is to provide for the safe management of fatigue of drivers for fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle whilst they are driving on the road as provided by section 220.

Proceedings must be commenced within 2 years of the offence or within 1 year of becoming aware, but not later than 3 years after the offence, as provided by section 707.

The good news is that you may have a defence.

The reasonable steps defence under section 618, requires that a person did not know and could not have been expected to know and that all reasonable steps were taken or no steps could be taken. Relevant considerations are covered in sections 619 to 625.

Other possible defences include unauthorised person, deficient vehicle, compliance with direction, sudden or extraordinary emergency and lawful compliance.

Why not contact me NOW for a FREE CONSULTATION to find out what your options are.


Anthony Stewart, Solicitor