The 2006 census revealed that more than 103,000 Australians were employed as full-time truck drivers, transporting everything from livestock and raw materials to food and manufactured goods. Regulation is managed by the National Transport Commission (NTC) in collaboration with central government. Heavy vehicle regulation is consistent across the nation, although there are some variations among Australia's five states and three territories.
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Although individual states or territories issue their own driver's licenses, they all adhere to a national standard. For truck drivers there are five types of license. A Light Rigid license (Class LR) covers rigid vehicles between 4.5 and eight tonnes gross vehicle mass (GVM), and trailers of no more than nine tonnes. Medium Rigid (Class MR) is for rigid vehicles with two axles and a GVM over eight tonnes. Heavy Rigid (Class HR) covers vehicles over eight tonnes GVM and with three axles or more. For heavier rigid vehicles a Heavy Combination (HC) license is required. This also covers semitrailers. For larger vehicles like road trains, a Multi Combination license (MC) is needed.
The National Heavy Vehicle Driver Fatigue Law requires that drivers adhere to one of three fatigue management schemes. The default scheme is known as Standard Hours. It requires that a driver only work for 12 in every 24 hours, and must have at least seven hours continuous rest. Under the Basic Fatigue Management Scheme (BFM) drivers have to rest for at least seven continuous hours in every 24, but they can work up to 14 hours in this period. Operators accredited with Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM) can propose their own regulations within outer limits of six hours continuous rest per 24 hour period, or eight hours of rest split into two parts.
The NTC dictates the maximum loads for different types of truck and charges registration rates accordingly. These limits vary from 15 tonnes for a two axle rigid truck, to 115.5 tonnes for a triple road train. A three axle rigid truck can carry up to 22.5 tonnes and with four axles it can take 26.5. A three axle semi-trailer can take 24 tonnes. With four axles a semi-trailer can weigh up to 39 tonnes, and with five axles the GVM can be 42.5 tonnes.
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