Community bus driver Graham Bruton unhappy about the new regulations.
Community bus driver Graham Bruton unhappy about the new regulations. Jacklyn Wagner

Driving volunteers mad

AS a volunteer bus driver with Community Transport Northern Rivers, Graham Bruton regularly takes elderly people out for lunch.

“It's mainly people who don't get a chance to get out of the house much. It brings a smile to their faces when you arrive at the front door and that makes your day,” he said.

But regulations for all heavy vehicle drivers being introduced by the RTA at the end of September mean Mr Bruton and thousands of volunteer drivers across NSW will be required to keep a detailed work diary.

“It's a bit crazy,” Mr Bruton said. “Today I worked for the RSL Day Club and did a trip of 48 kilometres. Under the new system I would be required to keep a log, which is ridiculous.

“If you drive out the front gate or fill the bus up you would have to write it down in the log book?”

Mr Bruton, a Veteran's Affairs pensioner, said if the pressure to fill out the log books proved too much he would look at volunteering with another organisation instead.

Fleet manager for Community Transport Northern Rivers, Warren Bell, said the new regulations would be an administrative burden for the organisation.

Mr Bell manages nine mini buses and about 100 volunteer drivers to cover the region.

“There are thousands of churches, day-care centres, nursing homes and others that do the kind of work we do, driving people from door-to-door, or to the hospital or the station, that will be affected by this. It makes no sense to change it.”

Mr Bell was also worried the drivers could be fined if they were pulled over by the RTA and hadn't kept their logs books up-to-date.

Ballina MP Don Page has been in contact with the RTA and raised the concerns of volunteer organisations.

“Generally I support these regulations where they apply to professional drivers,” Mr Page said.

“They are being implemented to combat driver fatigue and the associated deadly consequences. Where volunteers are travelling short distances on infrequent occasions it's unreasonable to expect them to complete a detailed work diary.”

A spokesperson for the RTA said it was preparing an exemption policy and may take into consideration the situation of volunteer community drivers.



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