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Heavy vehicle rest areas 'not camping areas', truckies warn, as they fill with caravaners and campers

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Truck drivers are pleading with the public not to use roadside heavy vehicle rest areas (HVRAs) as they fill with campers heeding WA Government advice to 'wander out yonder', leaving long haulers no place to rest.


Key points:

  • Truck drivers have reported roads and rest stops busier than ever with travellers and campers
  • They say lack of space for trucks of up to 60 metres in length in roadside HVRAs is a safety concern
  • The caravan industry says a reduction in free camping by WA shires is exacerbating the issue


Designated HVRAs cater for truck drivers to carry out short, purpose-based stops including load checks and completing log books, and they often act as an important bay for compulsory fatigue breaks.

Heavy vehicle operators are required to take a seven-hour break when on long trips, or a 20-minute break every five hours.

But as an influx of tourists head to Western Australia's north, the trucking industry is reporting a dramatic increase in HVRAs filling with light vehicles and caravans.

While it is legal for any vehicle to stop in a HVRA for up to 24 hours, at times there have been tents erected in the bays — flagged as a huge hazard by the trucking industry.

Heather Jones, the chief executive of Heavy Haulage Girls, said it was leading to safety issues.


"If we don't have truck drivers who are having their required rest then, as we know, fatigue can be deadly," she said.


"So you could be, if you're using the truck bays, contributing to a situation where we can't sleep or we haven't had our required rest and … contributing to accidents."

She said there were very few other options if a truck bay was full.

"You've got 50 kilometres, or 100km sometimes, until the next truck bay, and then if that's full you're causing quite a few issues fatigue-wise," she said.

According to Main Roads WA there are more than 1,600 rest areas on the state network.

Only 207 of them are primarily for heavy vehicles.

Livestock and Rural Transporters Association WA president David Fyfe said travellers needed to consider other options before resorting to truck bays.

"These are safety bays for the transport industry — they're not camping areas," he said.

"Most caravaners can plan their journey, and they plan for the next caravan park or legal, free camp site.

"[Truck bays] are there for them to rest, for sure, but the whole idea for truck bays is for drivers to pull their 60-metre-long rigs in and and get off the road, and if they need to sleep they need to be able to sleep safely off the road."

Mr Fyfe has called for Main Roads WA to put more signage at HVRAs discouraging campers and caravaners from staying there overnight.

"It wouldn't mean that a caravaner wasn't able to pull in there if they had a flat tyre or needed to rest," he said.

"The sign would explain somehow that trucks only can stop to camp and sleep."

Free camp areas needed

The caravan industry has recognised the problem.

President of the WA Association of Caravan Clubs and former truck driver Kevin Forbes said it was likely driven by inexperienced campers who did not know the etiquette or the free camp spots.

"There are so many free camping spots nowadays that you don't [need to] use the truck parking bays," he said.

"Or if you do, which I have in the past at times, you get right out the back, off the road.

"They're working, I'm not. It's so easy to do the right thing."

He said a recent push to remove free campsites in shires, driven mostly by caravan parks, would only exacerbate the problem.

"Especially if you're pensioners who can't afford a caravan park each night, they camp out. And if the town has cut the free camping, the only other option is the parking bays."


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