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 Fatigue management for farmers guidance sheet (PDF, 234KB) to address the most common questions from operators and industry bodies about the fatigue regulations that apply to farm operations under the Heavy Vehicle National Law.

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