Truckie outraged over $10K fine
SPRINGFIELD truckie Aaron Tunnah couldn't believe his eyes when he opened a letter from the Lithgow Courthouse.
"I rang the courthouse. I said they must have added one too many zeros," he said.
But the $10,000 fine he received for a critical risk breach was no joke.
He was booked by police at the Mt Boyce weighbridge for only having five hours rest instead of seven in a continuous block.
Mr Tunnah, who admits freely he did the wrong thing, also says he doesn't deserve a $10,000 fine.
"Log books aren't flexible enough," he said.
"It was just an error on my behalf. I struggle with my log book, especially with daylight savings. But I haven't gone over 12 hours' work time."
When Mr Tunnah first received a court notice for the breach in the mail he rang his solicitor for advice but chose not to have someone represent him as he wanted to save money.
He decided he would plead guilty and let the courts deal with the matter in his absence as he could not afford a day off work.
As the court date drew closer he ran out of time to send a letter to plead his case and instead rang the courthouse to advise he wanted to plead guilty.
However he didn't expect a $10,000 fine, saying his friend who had the exact same breach was handed a $300 fine when he attended court.
The trip started out like any other. Mr Tunnah left his Springfield home on a Saturday night and headed to Sydney.
"I got to Coonabarabran, woke up five hours later and got going and then realised I needed to have seven hours," he said.
He tried to pull in at a rest stop in Tomingley but there wasn't enough room. He managed to pull in at a parking bay in between Parks and Forbes to have the rest of his break but by law he needed to have seven hours continuously.
Managing Law Clerk at Hall and Co Solicitors, Guy McEntyre, advised truck drivers to use a lawyer, especially with the new Heavy Vehicle National Law now in full swing.
Under the new laws a critical risk fatigue breach carries a maximum fine of $15,000.
The Transport Workers' Union (TWU) could not comment on Mr Tunnah's case but TWU Queensland State Secretary Peter Biagini said the union stood by its members one hundred per cent.
"While we can't comment on an individual case unless we know all the circumstances, the TWU puts safety first and supports measures that enforce safety; however in enforcing penalties the government needs to ensure fairness and uniformity for truck drivers who already do it tough financially," he said.
Mr Tunnah is now appealing the decision and believes a lack of adequate facilities at rest stops made it difficult for truckies.
"Who in their right mind will sit for hours in a parking bay with no facilities?" he said.
"At the end of the day I stuffed up.
"In the log book you should be able to do 12 hours a day how you want to. Fatigue is different for everyone."