Victorian truck driver Chris Macdermid is preparing to appeal a $17,240 fine for inadequate rest in a 12-hour period, as the industry fears drivers were being "overcharged" by police.
The Ruffy-based transporter was travelling home from South Australia in August last year, on an interstate COVID permit that required him to go directly from places of work without stopping.
The conflicting regulations meant he drove 2.5 hours more than the maximum work of 12 hours permitted by the Heavy Vehicle National Regulator's Fatigue Management laws.
"You were required to go directly to your destination and you were not allowed to stop," he said.
Mr Macdermid plans to appeal the fine next month by highlighting the conflicting regulations imposed on truck drivers travelling interstate during COVID lockdowns.
"I've got to go to court, hire a lawyer, and appeal the fine to try and get it down to something that is more reasonable, which could be $1500," he said.
"If you're a driver for a company that could be a week's wage.
"The penalties are so extreme they're detracting people from wanting to be in the industry."
The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator's fatigue laws require drivers to take a 15 or 30-minute break on a five or eight-hour shift respectively.
Mr Macdermid said Victoria's Police's heavy-handed enforcement of the fatigue laws were deterring drivers from staying in the trucking industry.
"I can understand why they've done that because if you're tired and run off the road, you could kill someone," he said.
Last month, a random search of Mr Macdermid's Kenworth truck left his son Jock, 10, in tears.
He said the assertiveness of the Victoria Police officer would act as a deterrent for his son wanting to work in the industry.
"The officer got my manifest book, log book, personal diary and fuel log, and went through them with a fine-tooth comb," he said.
"After 45 minutes of searching on the roadside, he found I was 15 minutes over when I was filling up with fuel.
"Jock was mortified and crying with the way this guy was coming across and the officer said 'we're just making sure Dad's doing his homework properly'.
"He came from Melbourne and mentioned there were a lot of grain trucks on the road and that there had been mishaps - he was on a mission to book me for anything."
The 15-minute oversight cost $175 fine and a new roadworthy certificate, he said.
National Road Freighters Association president Rod Hannifey said the pain inflicted by the road authorities extended beyond financial penalties.
"Police overcharge - they always do these days and they rarely, if ever, apply any discretion," Mr Hannifey said.
"We hear of many stories whereby police on the roadside will hold up a driver for over an hour or more sometimes, looking for the slightest technical error.
"We are told the disappointment when they fail to do so is palpable."
Mr Hannifey said police in Victoria and South Australia were enforcing the law by laying charges and then handing the case to NHVR.
"This allows the NHVR to take credit for the prosecution without the legwork," he said.
"We believe this is an institutional problem that may only be recognised when nobody is left willing to drive trucks anymore."
Victoria Police spokesperson said the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator prosecutes heavy vehicles in Australia under the National Heavy Vehicle Law.
"Victoria Police is committed to working with its road safety partners to reduce the number of fatalities and serious injury collisions on Victorian roads," they said.
National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) spokesperson said the $17,240 was the maximum court-imposed penalty for a solo driver of a fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle operating under standard hours found to have committed a critical risk breach for working more than the maximum work time.
"The courts take an individual's circumstance into account when imposing a penalty," they said.
"Drivers were advised to plan for some delays at borders as part of their work and rest hours."
Roads and Road Safety Minister Ben Carroll was approached for comment.