Page 1282 - Week 04 - Thursday, 5 May 2022

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tragedy: heavy vehicle licence regulations and heavy vehicle technologies. I want to address both of those today.

Human factors are by far the biggest element in road crashes. We need to make sure that people are in a safe condition to drive at all times. The driver of the truck that caused the incident had sleep issues that likely affected his driving. It is estimated that sleep apnoea can affect up to 40 per cent of heavy vehicle drivers. There is a need for stronger heavy vehicle fitness-to-drive guidelines, particularly for sleep apnoea, diabetes and developing cardiovascular disease. In the ACT, our government has been implementing immediate changes for local drivers. Since February this year applicants for medium rigid, heavy rigid, heavy combination and multi-combination licence classes need to complete a commercial medical assessment before they can get a licence in the ACT.

The government has also taken steps to require a person applying to upgrade to a heavy vehicle licence to make a self-declaration of medical fitness, including in relation to sleep disorders. Further to those measures, explicit questions on sleep disorders have been included in the commercial health assessment form provided by Access Canberra for heavy vehicle and public vehicle drivers, as well the driver licence medical form for light vehicle drivers, to prompt and draw the attention of health professionals to this key issue when making assessments.

These measures are an important first step, but we are also pursuing further action. The ACT government is considering proposing legislation to require health practitioners to report medical issues that could affect a patient’s ability to drive safely. In doing this, we will work to balance keeping people safe with the human right of respecting people’s privacy. We are considering how we can protect those required to make a report and preserve the trust that is an important part of the therapeutic relationship between a health practitioner and their patient. We also know how important it is for us to consider carefully what happens with these reports. The government is strengthening clarified communication between agencies that are involved in the health of drivers to make sure that information flows to where it is needed and that health issues are addressed across government.

Another important element in driver health and road safety in the ACT is the Fitness to Drive Medical Clinic. The ACT is unique in Australia in having a dedicated team to manage independent health assessments of drivers, separate to primary health providers.

Safety on our roads and meeting our goal of Vision Zero requires effort from all of us. All of us who are road users have a responsibility to each other to be safe. The government began reaching out to the community in March with education about the need to report medical issues that may affect their driving. This campaign will continue through this month.

We have also been engaging with others that are passionate about the health and safety of ACT road users. I have met with the Australian Trucking Association to present them with the Coroner’s report from the inquest. I have written to the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and the Royal Australian College of General

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