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Can you get into trouble for making a mistake in your driver fatigue work diary?

Yes, it is an offence in most Australian jurisdictions for truck drivers to make false or misleading entries in their work diaries. The rules around work diaries are complex and many law-abiding drivers worry that they may get in trouble for a genuine mistake. In this article we offer a few useful tips to avoid undue stress and possible work diary problems.

In most prosecuted cases the driver deliberately made a false entry to alter their work or rest hours. This is usually to hide any breach of the work/rest hour requirements.

What happens if you accidently make a mistake?

A driver can also be prosecuted for accidental mistakes under the National Heavy Vehicle Law, if the prosecution can show that the driver ought reasonably have known that the entry was false or misleading. As a result, drivers must be very careful when completing their work diaries. Each entry must be accurate.

Three simple tips to avoid errors

1. Complete your diary promptly

Don’t try and fill in your diary from memory at the end of the day. Most accidental mistakes occur this way.

Update your diary as soon as you begin your rest break, and then immediately when you resume work again.  This is good practice and the information is fresh in your mind; the possibility of a mistake is a lot less.

Even more importantly, filling in your work diary immediately from work to rest (and vice versa) is a legal requirement.

2. Correct errors immediately and correctly

Correcting an error is simple. Again, if in doubt, consult the correct source. Your work diary has information at the front, which includes instructions on what you should do if you make a mistake. All you need to do is cross out the mistake and enter the correct information. It is always a good idea to initial next to the correction; it confirms that you made the change.

3. If in doubt, ask the experts

If you have any doubts, seek advice from the right people or institutions. Although friends and colleagues might mean well, people in the trucking industry have unfortunately passed around a lot of misinformation. It can be dangerous to rely on friends and colleagues. Many drivers find themselves on the wrong side of the law by following well meant but incorrect advice.

Driver fatigue and work diary laws are complex. The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator is responsible for overseeing the National Law. This body provides accurate information on its website and telephone hotline. It is a good source of information regarding work diaries.

If you have any further questions or face a work diary offence, speak to a lawyer with experience and knowledge in heavy vehicle law. A lawyer specializing in this field should provide reliable information and assistance

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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