A Te Awamutu trucking company has been fined more than $20,000 after admitting its drivers broke laws over rest breaks. Some drivers were travelling up to 1000km a day, with only 4.5 hours' rest between shifts.
The law says they should have twice that – at least 10 consecutive hours break in any 24-hour period.
The small Waikato company now has a hefty fine to pay. Dibble Transport pleaded guilty to 53 charges under the Land Transport Act after a police investigation last year found 14 drivers had been working longer hours than the law allows.
"You cannot exceed 14 hours in one day and must have a minimum of 10 hours break in every day," says Ken Shirley of the Road Transport Forum.
The judge heard how a number of truckers' logbooks had been falsified and the police said the company wasted eight weeks of their time by not producing full records when first asked.
Dibble Transport's lawyer blamed the company's accounting software, MYOB, for not collecting enough detail and said the company had thought its records were in order.
The Road Transport Forum says the laws in the area are vital for road safety.
“Fatigue is a very serious matter, driver fatigue, and we don’t condone this amongst any of our members," says Mr Shirley.
The New Zealand Transport Agency says 10 other freight companies have also broken the law in the past two years.
Today though, the judge took into account this was the company's first such offence and acknowledged it had already taken steps to improve education on keeping proper records.
Dibble Transport was fined just more than $21,000 and the drivers were fined between $200 and $350 each, and were banned from driving heavy vehicles for a month.
The company's lawyer and police agreed on a rolling schedule of suspensions so Dibble Transport can keep operating while its drivers serve their one-month licence disqualifications.