About fatigue management

Driver fatigue or drowsy driving is a safety hazard for the road transport industry. The main causes of fatigue are not enough sleep, driving at night (when you should be asleep) and working or being awake for a long time. It is important to be aware of the signs of fatigue.

Fatigue-regulated heavy vehicles

National heavy vehicle driver fatigue laws apply to fatigue-regulated heavy vehicles, which are:

  • a vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) of over 12t
  • a combination when the total of the GVM is over 12t
  • buses with a GVM over 4.5t fitted to carry more than 12 adults (including the driver)
  • a truck, or a combination including a truck, with a GVM of over 12t with a machine or implement attached.

The laws cover all aspects of work and rest relating to heavy vehicles including:

At the heart of the laws for fatigue management is a primary duty - a driver must not drive a fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle on a road while impaired by fatigue.

Some heavy vehicles are not classed as fatigue-regulated heavy vehicles. These include trams, motor vehicles modified to primarily operate as a machine or implement (plant such as agricultural machinery, bulldozers, tractors, etc.) and motorhomes specifically modified for residential purposes (not just built with a sleeper berth).

Drivers who feel pressured to drive while fatigued should call the Heavy Vehicle Confidential Reporting Hotline.

Fatigue management for farmers

The NHVR has produced a fact sheet the most common questions from operators and industry bodies about the fatigue regulations that apply to farm operations under the Heavy Vehicle National Law.

Heavy vehicle fatigue management - primary producers

Heavy vehicle fatigue management - primary producers

Primary producers have an important role to play in managing the fatigue of heavy vehicle drivers, whether you are using your vehicle or someone else’s.

Signs of fatigue

A driver must not drive a fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle on a road while impaired by fatigue. Drivers may be impaired by fatigue even when complying with work and rest limits. It is important to spot the signs of fatigue and take a break.

Your body

  • A lack of alertness
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Making more mistakes than usual
  • Drowsiness, falling asleep or micro-sleeps
  • Difficulty keeping your eyes open
  • Not feeling refreshed after a sleep
  • Excessive head nodding or yawning
  • Blurred vision
  • Mood changes
  • Changes to personal health or fitness

Your vehicle

  • Near miss or incident
  • Not keeping in a single lane
  • Not maintaining a constant speed
  • Overshooting a sign or line
  • Poor gear changes
Fatigue: Delayed reaction timesFatigue: Vehicle wandering