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John Duffy was a free-lance, commentary coach captain based on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, who offers a range of services to the coach and bus industry. He trains and assesses drivers and bus companies [including tourism], and provides transport consultancy services. He authored the "Australian Bus and Coach Drivers Guide" as a training resource. He is the first ever Certified Passenger Professional, CILTA Professional of the Year and TLISC Road Transport Trainee of the Year.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Making Sense of the HVNL ~ What is a driver BASE?

DISCLAIMER: This article does not constitute legal advice, and 
the author is not accountable for any breach or potential breach 
of the Heavy Vehicle National Law by any party referring to this article.

Recently, drivers on social media have expressed a serious diversity of understanding in
regards to the definition of a driver's base pertaining to the Heavy Vehicle National Law [HVNL].

I hope I can simplify the important issues and help remove some of the confusion for our drivers.  I will address what the HVNL defines as the Driver Base, what it isn't, and summarise the practical aspects for Drivers.

I will actually provide copies of the specific current legislation, and there are links for you to further research in the references at the bottom.

What is a Driver Base?

According to the National Driver Work Diary, a base is summarised as follows:

National Driver Work Diary, Glossary (p.5)

It is more accurately defined in the HVNL as:

Heavy Vehicle National Law (Queensland), Chapter 1 Preliminary, Part 1.2 Interpretation, 5 Definitions

So, you can read according to the Base definition, clause 1 (b) [which relates to Part 6.4 Requirements about record keeping, ie. the requirements of the National Work Diary], the base is described as the "garage address".

Now, the garage address is defined as:
Heavy Vehicle National Law (Queensland), Chapter 1 Preliminary, Part 1.2 Interpretation, 5 Definitions

According to the clause a for garage address, the HVNL mentions a principal depot (where the bus or coach is physically parked).  If lawyers want to be fussy, they could refer to where the vehicle is garaged according to the registration, insurance policy, or where the company's workplace policy claims is the depot of the vehicle.

Many drivers keep their company vehicles at home or at a nearby position when parked overnight.  Also, long distance operations may have a "depot" at the terminus of routes (eg. Brisbane based company with a depot at Sydney).  In these instances, it may be argued by the bus companies that these addresses may constitute the "garage address". This is covered under clause (b).

ALL these requirements are reiterated in the Heavy Vehicle (Fatigue Management) National Regulation:

Heavy Vehicle (Fatigue Management) National Regulation, Part 3 Work diary requirements,
18 Information to be recorded after change of base, record location or accreditation

This definition refers to completing the Base, record location and accreditation number section on pages 32 and 33 of your National Driver Work Diary.

The recording of your base in the Work Diary is summarised as follows:
National Driver Work Diary, Base, record location and accreditation number (p.31)
To place the bus and coach industry context on the above examples, it includes home address (if normally parked there overnight), bus depot or project parking if you are doing long term work such as mining project operations [bus in, bus out].

What is NOT a Driver Base?

A common action long distance drivers and extended tour drivers use (to "get around" the paperwork of filling logbooks away from base) is to add a base to a location where they are going to be parked for a short term.

A coach tour from Melbourne to Sydney, where the tour is centred around a Sydney motel (passenger accommodation) for 3 days.
Interstate football team charters a bus to take them return from Brisbane to Adelaide, with transfers around Adelaide and surrounding districts over 1 week.

These instances (if audited) would not be acceptable to adding the centralised accommodation as a base to your Work Diary. 

The Practical Implications of a Driver Base

So putting these laws into practice for bus and coach drivers, I will outline a couple of common scenarios.


A long distance Brisbane company has a depot at Sydney and a depot at Brisbane. The driver has been doing locally based charters since 2014, but in January 2017 starts intercity runs (between Brisbane and Sydney).
He hops into a Brisbane-depot coach and drives: 

  • Brisbane to Grafton [overnight rest]
  • Grafton to Port Macquarie [overnight rest]
  • Port Macquaire to Sydney [overnight rest]

He is required to ensure his Base, record location and accreditation number section is correct BEFORE he commences his journey:

And he must complete his Work Diary using the QLD time (the base of the coach), NOT NSW Daylight Saving Time [AEDT]!

On his return journey, the driver will be using a NSW registered and garaged coach.  Since this is the first time he is using another depot's vehicle, he must fill in the new base in his  Base, record location and accreditation number section BEFORE he commences his journey:

(You will note in this example, that the Head Office is the same, so the records are kept at that the Qld address).

However, because the vehicle is based at Sydney, the driver must use the NSW time (which would be AEDT) in his Work Diary:


A coach company in Brisbane provides a fleet of coaches (and FIFO drivers) to service a remote mining project in Weipa (Far North Qld) and Arukun.

The vehicles are all registered at the Brisbane depot (for financial and insurance purposes). They are depoted permanently at Weipa, and in the interest of compliance management, the records are kept at the Weipa depot office.

The main road from Weipa to Arakun is 205km, however the direct "line of sight" between the two towns is 77km.  They do NOT travel outside this region.

Because the buses are permanently garaged at Weipa, the drivers who operate this service may claim the base as the Weipa depot, as well as the record archive:

Because the radial distance of operations is less than 100km, there is no need to record a Work Diary.


A charter driver based in Brisbane is operating locally from a motel in Melbourne for three (3) weeks.

He wants to change his base to the motel (where his bus is parked).

This is a legal "grey" area, as the term of operation may not conventionally be considered "normally kept when not in use".  It is further complicated by the fact that 3 weeks may not be legally considered a "normal" period.

If it was to be a regular event or longer periods, an operator/supervisor (under the Chain of Responsibility definitions) may be able to provide the driver a letter legally demonstrating the circumstances.  This may legally allow the driver to add the new address as a base.

Remember, you as a driver must be able to prove the accuracy of your Work Diary information if you are audited.  It is all about protecting yourself and maintaining your compliance. 


Heavy Vehicle (Fatigue Management) National Regulation

Heavy Vehicle National Law (Queensland)

National Driver Work Diary

1 comment:

Chris B said...

Very useful John. Thanks.