15th August 2018. Listening to the same story in a different place.

TIV-Logo jpegTRUCK That Australia Drivers Club logo

I am in Columbus Ohio and have just had dinner, walked to a local supermarket for supplies for meals tomorrow and on the way back spoke with a local Police Officer, parked in a servo. I asked him did he have much to do with trucks and he said no. I said there are quite a few round here, using the motels etc and he agreed, but again, said they did not have any trouble with the trucks.

I then asked about the rust I see in a percentage of cars and do they do inspections? “No, they used to many years ago, but not now” he said. It seems you can drive it till it dies and many do. In a rest area last week, I am nearly sure the thin cargo strap around the ute body, could have been all that was holding the thing together and would have taken a photo, but the fellow inside may have taken offence.

I hear broken exhausts, brakes rubbing as cars drive past and see the rust, through mudguards and over wheels and under doors, often all together on one vehicle, at least a number of times a day and even in the big cities. When I told the officer we would not be even allowed out the gate like that, he said ”Oh really, MMMM”.

I then walked up to a trucker and his wife and another driver. I said I had two questions, the first is that I don’t see many Western Stars? He said they are around and Western Star is owned by Freightliner and it is like the difference between a Chev and a Cadillac (basic and luxury) and he had this truck built for him in 2017. He was too long to legally pull his 3 pup (28 foot trailers each with dolly at front and single axle at rear) in his 379 Pete on the Ohio and other turnpikes (read freeways) and so he bought this and went from 4 and a half MPG to over 7, but he also now does 1500 revs at 73 MPH with a 12 speed auto against the 18 speed manual, the gear fast run slow ethic gaining more and more momentum.

The second was my basic question, “What is your biggest safety concern on the highway” and this is where the title comes in. For all intents and purposes, he could have been as Aussie truckie with all of his comments, bar one. “Car drivers are the biggest problem, you leave a space and they fill it. I had a friend have a car pull in front not leaving enough room and he hit the car, the car driver told the Police “I was just sitting here at the lights waiting to turn and the truck hit me”, the trucker gave the police his dash cam and all was sorted quickly.” I said I too have heard that story and do you know that the idea of recording cars to protect us, because no one would believe a car driver would be so stupid (don’t we wish) was first done by an Australian Truckdriver.

He said he is going to get a camera soon and then we went onto my trip and why etc. I told him I think the UK lorry drivers are worse off as they have no one working for them and asked about here. He is a member of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and believes they are trying, but they are fighting the government, who all know better and are happy to tell us how to do our job, whether they could or not. I have emailed OOIDA with no luck, the emails bounce, but do plan to catch up with them at GATS.

What about truckers? Yes there is that too, not being trained properly and the public think this is the easiest job in the world, yet say when they get the chance to see things from our side, who would do that job?

He went on “These ELDs are forcing blokes to drive tired, they don’t allow for traffic etc, blokes are pushing from the minute they start the clock and no one else cares about us.” “I wish we could all get together and shut down for a week” and I said as I have before, I have more chance flying to the moon in your truck and he agreed. I then explained those who have advocated blockades in Australia will simply be pushed off the road by the authorities and that unless you have two important things, someone or a group the industry will stand behind and a short list of both, problems and solutions, the government will simply laugh at you.

He then spoke of a lack of rest areas, Police in some states who will write up drivers for parking on freeway ramp shoulders, no excuses accepted at all. The fact that the industry is simply there now for revenue, as the authorities are not getting it like they used to and on one occasion, when pulled up by a trooper, who could find nothing wrong with the truck, then wanted his logs and seemed to get very annoyed when he could find nothing wrong. Our trucker said, “Isn’t that how it is supposed to be?” but the officer clearly had the bothers, that he could not write him a ticket.

California not being just a different state, but a different country etc and whilst I had said to him after the first five minutes, can I go and get my video camera, you are saying all I have heard, but altogether and quite well, but he was not keen. While he works for a broker, the trailer had a name that some would know in Australia from many years ago in that section of the industry and I was holding them up as they were about to go and eat.

I apologised and then he asked me about, you guessed it, our roadtrains. They do have what we would call a roadtrain (and I mistakenly labelled the two or three short trailer combos as turnpike doubles previously, yet it seems as here as at home, where you are changes what something means), but they pull two 53 foot trailers as turnpike doubles in the USA (or as Heavy Goods Vehicles HGVs, in Canada) and with their long trucks, would well exceed our 36.5 metres. They talk in miles here and I can cope with that, but weights in pounds still has me thinking about conversions, and normally by then the driver is on the next comment.

So a wrap up to this point of the trip. Truckdrivers biggest problem on the roads are car drivers who do not, or have never been taught, to understand trucks. There is a much smaller problem with other truck drivers, but it is there and is growing. Electronic Logs (ELDs) are putting more pressure on many and not all are coping. Some have no problem with them and it seems this is largely due to the type of work and or where you run and or, who you work for.

The ELDs have exacerbated the lack of rest areas in some states and I have seen a site yesterday on a four lane highway where you can access it from both directions, yet there is a slow down lane barely big enough for a single car on the opposite side and none at all on the rest area side and traffic in a 70 MPH zone, has to nearly stop in the lane to enter the rest area and or cross the road and traffic drives back and forth across the highway with barely a car length between sides. This in a state that also has a rest area with a near mansion for a toilet block and acres of gardens around it, that you would be proud to have in a show place.

My Western Star friend did say he thought the government was being driven by certain groups baying about road safety, but the trucking industry was not being given its voice and certainly not the drivers and the government will follow the loudest noise.
In the theme of good news which must of course be a good way to end this, when sitting on the balcony with my new friend Bruce at his home in Toronto Canada and having a beer, my first for the trip, I got a call to say I had not been successful in my bid to win funding for more Green Reflector Informal Truck Bays. Now to be fair I have just got the Newell done and I will both say thanks to NHVR for their help and support in achieving that and look forward to doing some press in that regard when I return.

However, the next call was from my partner in all things trucking in Australia, Stephen from Whiteline Television and http://www.truckingnation.com.au to say he had been successful in winning funding for us to do the TRUCKIES TOP TEN TIPS (for sharing the road with trucks) on video. Our aim is to do it professionally and make it available to all road authorities as a resource, so that new drivers will see and hopefully recognise some of our issues when they get on the road as well as making it available to all others who can use it to teach or simply, to see our side of things. I have been promoting these tips for nearly 20 years now and have had some terrific comments and support, but it has been a long time coming to be able to do it in such a way and with Stephens incredible and professional talent with a camera, I know it will be top notch.

Congratulations to all others who have been successful with projects and I hope each and every one of these, helps to improve road safety for all Australians. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

17th December 2021 On the road again.

Goodaye all. I did three trips to Melbourne week before last and on the third leg home decided to try Vicroads again. I got frustrated by the changes to their phone service and previously told them so, but had no further feedback nor did anything get fixed, so must admit, I gave up for a while.

But I rang and said I had a list of five things and the lady was accepting and interested. We got through the list and she said, “Is there anything else?” and I said yes, but I don’t have a reference point or kilometre marker, so will have to ring back when I can confirm. She did ring me back as she could not find Cemetery Road, I was still way south of there and I explained where and she said, found it, all good and she would pass all issues on.

Within an hour, I had a call back from one of the road managers. One issue they knew about, one they did not, two were previous complaints that nothing had been done about and we discussed those and one was out of his jurisdiction, but he would pass it on. I had his number on the phone and asked could I call him with other issues. He requested I continue to call the 131170 number and we discussed the menu issue and both he and the original lady said they had not listened to it and would.

The road manager did say they struggle to get the funding for some things and I explained that I rang with good intent, knowing they had a big network and that few of them understood our issues and hoped that my complaint, would not only see bits fixed or at least improved, but that my calling as a road user and raising these issues would possibly then help them get the funding. If no one complains, they will hopefully fix what they know about or see as a problem, but if we don’t tell them about the rough bridge abutments northbound at Glenrowan or the undulations southbound before Cemetery Road or all the other bits, how likely are they to fix them?

Now the cynical of you will say they won’t fix any of it anyway and yes, the southbound section near the inspection pads north of Kalkallo took me years to get fixed and are now failing again, but you must at least give me a B plus for trying and not giving up easily. We shall see what gets fixed, but many others have been over the years. We also discussed the wire rope and the problems it has caused in being run end to end on the Hume and I am still waiting for Vicroads to mark the overlap bays with green reflectors, but I shall never give up on that one.

Tomorrow I head off on my longest ever work trip. I might even try and make a story of it. I must go now to hook up my trailers for a trip to Norseman in WA and will pick up a third there for Port Hedland. It will be a big trip. Till next time, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

10th January 2021 trips and reflectors.

Goodaye all, a busy week, four audio books completed, three round trips to Melbourne, a call from TMR Roma and hopefully some work to now update and record and maintain green reflector bays in that area, that contact was to pass on my details to Emerald district with the same purpose, make them aware and have them add some new and also maintain current sites etc.

A call to Vicroads coming out of Melbourne Friday with a list of 5 issues, saw a 20 minute wait on the phone, but then not only a very understanding, but even more, someone who was even interested in my issues, taking a list and within the hour, I had a call from one of the road engineers regarding one section. He confirmed one problem, another was in their lists of things to do, one was not and would be added, one was a previous complaint and another was out of his jurisdiction, but he would pass on.

He did say they are struggling to get the funding to do all that needs to be done and I did say I hoped he would take my complaint and use it to get more funding as being a regular user of the road and therefore someone affected by road failures, like any other road user, those using the road regularly should be listened to. I asked could I contact him with another issue that I could not immediately recall accurately where it was and therefore, they would struggle to find it.

He said, “All I can suggest is you keep ringing the 131170 number and both raising issues that affect us and then in doing so, that will be helping them to get sufficient funding to fix those things. I was not happy with the menu on the call in number, raised that issue as well and both said they would pass that on.

I am working on a complete list of bumps from Oakey to Mt Isa and have forewarned TMR, but have been told it will at the least be passed on to the relevant districts. Only waiting for Rockhampton and Toowoomba to respond now. I am still not happy with the speed zones on the Toowoomba bypass, was told by QTA they were given an undertaking they would be reviewed, but nothing has changed except now the uphill section of the viaduct was corrugating before Christmas.

A couple of new and remarked green reflector bays on the Tomingley to Narromine Road, two still to do and a couple on the Newell near Peak Hill and Wagga remarked after new guideposts put in. A number of new sites marked between Roma and Mt Isa now marked from trips before Christmas as well. I raised it again with Vicroads and it was interesting to hear that even the repair crews complained about the wire rope before it went from end to end and they have had two trucks hit as there is now nowhere safe to pull off the road and be clear of traffic.

I was told by Vicroads in July last year, there would be a trial of marking the overlap bays in the wire rope with green reflectors in September 2020,  but none has been done and they refuse to respond when I ask again and again. No wonder we struggle to comply and have doubts about how serious they are about our safety.

Many of you may be aware of the change in the roadside radar cars in NSW. I am told that not only with the removal of the warning signs, that they will be able to catch you in both directions now, previously with the signs only on one side, they could not ping you going the other way, but if you meet one travelling on the road towards you, you can get a ticket from them as well now.

In for a service in the morning, then a delivery and off to Moree and possibly Brisbane. We had a busy Christmas and others I spoke to said the same. Did you see a change from the past? I see truck sales are up, freight volumes are up and all that is good for some, yet others are still affected by Covid and changes to their work load and or need for their services. Let us all hope this new year will see things improve. Till next week, Safe Travellling, Rod Hannifey.

3rd January 2021 A Trucking Good New Year to you all.

Goodaye and a TRUCKING Good New Year to you all for 2021. I got a few days off over Christmas and now a few over New year, but back on the road again, this afternoon. I hope each of you had time with those you love and or at least, time to recover from the year that was.

Some have been badly affected and we thought the worst was over, but here we are with border closures again. Let us hope after the first debacle with over 4 hours delay for trucks, seeing many out of hours and left with nowhere to go but sit in the que, that this will not happen again. It is not as though it has never happened before, yet why did it go so wrong? Who will be held responsible for simply bad traffic management? I fear it is simply a case of it doesn’t affect me, so it is not a problem.

No wonder we are a cynical and cranky bunch of people who feel we are treated as second or less, class people. We can’t get enough rest areas, toilets or shade so we can safely manage our fatigue, we can’t get the flexibility to do so, we are told by all these others to be safe and don’t break the law, yet we are not given the tools to do so.

I do hope both the HVNL review and the Senate inquiry into a Safe and Viable Road Transport industry will achieve some improvements, but unless we push, nothing will change. It is still sad that only 60 odd drivers, out of 200,000 plus, made the effort to contribute to the HVNL review. Many will sit and whinge about how we are treated and those groups and associations who do their best to see things change, can only do so much and without members, they too will get little done.

Those who tell us how to do our job, don’t live on the road, don’t have or even understand our problems and unfortunately even fewer care, it is simply not their problem! But they all want to eat, have clothes, fuel and parts for their cars etc and until we have a voice and those others recognise what we give up in our lives to make their better and more comfortable, we will struggle to get change.

Enough on the soapbox. I am still working on my list of issues from the Mt Isa trips, pushing for the next TIV and hoping to keep you interested and informed. How many of you read the trucking press now? What do they do right for you, what do you want from them and have you ever written and or contacted a trucking industry press to help them help you? Don’t just say, it is still the same as years ago, we need more involved, even if the only thing you do is one thing, that will help. What do you want from me, what can I do better? Give it some thought. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

When I first picked up the brand new trailers in Melbourne.
The last trip with the first TIV. A different look that took a lot of effort with the help of many. Thank you Ken Wilkie, your help in getting me going will never be forgotten or surpassed. Thanks Rod.

23rd December 2020, what a way to end the year.

Goodaye all. Apologies for leaving you all in the lurch waiting with baited breath last week, I cleaned the inside of the cab after starting this, then had to go and load trailers and get fuel etc. The first part was written with a plan to put up, but alas, I did not get back to it to do so.

(Written last Sunday) It is somewhat warm here near McKinlay, north of Winton. What took hours to load in three separate trips in Brisbane, was lifted off in 7 hits, one because the chain got caught coming out. The man unloading me brought me a bottle of water during unloading, then when done and I was flagging, I asked for another and he then also offered me an electrolyte ice block. Both hit the spot. I did need something to eat as was due when I got here, but knowing what is in front of me to get home, I thought a late lunch would perhaps gain me another 30 minutes or at least, not cost me an hour if I got in while the mine crew was on lunch. One of our other drivers had said you could get a bus into the village and get a feed and a shower, but not so. You need this pass and that form and now I am outside, it is too late.

My safety, amenity, ability to get a shower or meal and have a life, affected and controlled by the logbook and they wonder why we want change. I could get a bit down the road, but that will simply cost me more time in my effort to get home before Christmas. A 24 hour break in the truck here was not the original plan, but circumstances, wiring issues and lights etc, the load and the operating environment, have all each added delays I could not foresee or prevent. But I have to comply.

So here I am in the truck and without the Icepack, I would be in trouble. Thank you Charles and the team for supplying a device that makes such conditions bearable for truckies. I have often pondered the safety side of things, with the view that safety applies to others when you can screw them over, make them do all types of time wasting crap in the name of safety so you have a job and those affected don’t count. The time lost, the loss of income etc for all who then have to wait even longer now behind etc.

What about our safety in the sun. the rain, the heat etc? We are often the only bunnies stuck in these conditions loading and unloading. The bloke who came up with the idea to keep you safe, doesn’t have to live with it, it keeps them employed coming up with even more crap to foist on someone else. Their time and life won’t be affected. Why are those affected not included in any such changes?

The forkies will mostly happily watch you trying to keep up with them when they hit you with two forks, after making you wait of course, they have a cover for the sun and the rain, yes they might have to wear the long sleeves and pants, hard hat etc, but they don’t have to lift gates, move curtains and then strap it all down. Thankfully this load doesn’t have those issues, but there are always things we have to do and some still don’t get paid for that. Why Not?

I want to be safe at work, I want to be safe on the road (and then why do we not teach car drivers about sharing the road with trucks) and I want others to be as safe. What I have a problem with is those who come up with and then implement things to keep me safe that will not, that will take more time and leave me with more responsibility down the road, yet I have not been consulted, my time and the changes to my life completely ignored and the cost to me as the driver, not even on the radar. If it cost those who come up with it, they surely have to get funding and approval for changes they put forward, so the cost to the company will be considered, by why is the cost to every driver then involved, impacted and delayed etc, not?

Hard hats when the only thing they will protect you from is a plane falling out of the sky, long sleeves and pants, when all they do is bring you closer and faster to heat stress. Yes there are absolutely places where these things are needed to keep workers safe, but not everywhere. So ends the rant.

 (Written tonight) It has been an unusual month, my four legged freight, the giraffe to SA, a trial in another truck and then to Melbourne, Dubbo, St George, Brissie and off to Mt Isa with two and back again to Brisbane then up to the mine with three. Hot all the way, I missed all the rain and most of the kangaroos, one on the way up and three on the way back, but none on the second trip. The roads up there are terrible as those who travel them all the time well know. I did make a list of some of thew worst bumps and plan to submit it to TMR, but will they do anything? A few green reflector bays appeared in new places and a few asked was I lost. I am unloading in the morning, back to Dubbo then preloading for Melbourne to go Monday. It has been a very different year for many, though most I spoke with are busy now. So to all who read and hopefully enjoy, may I wish you a Merry Christmas and a TRUCKING Good New Year and plan to keep you informed and occasionally entertained in the New Year. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

29th November 2020 Roads and rest areas again.

Goodaye all, another week on the road. I did get a call from a mate who rang and complained about a pothole under the Jerilderie camera. He was given not only an undertaking that it would be fixed, but that the person would contact the Safe-t-cam people and ask them not to issue any fines for those who tried to avoid the pothole and then ran foul of the camera. Had he not rang, many may have got camera fines, but it doesn’t always work that way. Let’s hope it went the way it should have. Well done Chris.

Another contact through a Facebook friend request, who complained about Victorian roads, when asked were they aware of the number and had they called, tells me they have and have had no action. This is why I am still asking for a national road standard, so we know what is deemed acceptable, we can contribute to that standard, not simply have car drivers think we are whinging and we can then hold the road authorities to account.

Then once we report a section of road, depending on the traffic volumes and when the next maintenance is due, it should be fixed within a specified time, dependant on how bad and the above factors. Serious failures and large potholes etc, should simply be left till next time the crew is out that way. A car could hit it and swerve into the path of a truck, a motorcyclist could be thrown well off the road from some of them and whilst you can look and should also be watching the road and driving to conditions, it is hard to see in the dark and round corners. Lives should not be at risk for any longer than is absolutely necessary, to get the problem fixed.

I read at one stage that truckies in the USA were aiming to charge the road authorities for damage caused to their trucks by some of their roads, but have not seen it get up and no surprise, imagine if it did and then maybe we could follow. We are required to be compliant, meet very high standards and be under intense scrutiny, yet I still think that we are not getting good value for the money spent on roads.

What good is it to have two or more people sit in cars at both ends of roadworks all day and tell trucks there is roadwork ahead? Yes, there have been idiots who have slammed into parked vehicles, but if their radio is down or off, then what will them being there change? Some of those do not even speak clearly enough to be understood and I have suggested that on the radio, both politely and with the aim to help, yet why are we paying them for this if they don’t care enough to even be understood. Surely there is a better and cheaper way to do it, instead of having people bored stupid sitting in a car all day calling us up. More money to pay people for little value.

Roads cost a lot, we must get good value, not simply supply large profits to million dollar companies to do a lousy job and then when it fails, pay again. Someone must be responsible for the work, the value and the life of the road, or we will simply continue to pay for something and get little value for it.

On a very positive note, I must congratulate the Tasmanian Trucking association of r getting actual, not implied, intended or promised, support for a Tasmanian Truck Rest Area Strategy, something I would very much like to see done nationally. There are obvious factors that have seen this get up, a lack of through traffic which swells truck numbers needing rest areas, a concerted effort by the association not only in pushing the case, but putting out a document few could realistically argue against and someone in government prepared to put their neck out and support it.

With many towns bypassed over the last few years as the highways were improved and then also more and more wire rope barriers taking away shoulders and spots that could be used, even if not the best or safest spots and of course then, not formally signed and or recognised by the authorities.

But they have agreement and a plan for some immediate and some longer term improvements and I would hope when all done, that at least one state will have enough suitable and sufficient truck rest areas for all those who need them. Their report which is 122 pages long, does say they were way behind and failed to meet all previous requirements for the number and spacing of truck rest areas and I hope this can be used as a guide on how to see things improved. Well done all involved. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.    

22nd November 2020 Roads!

Goodaye all. Am I the only one who has a problem with our roads and the way they are managed? We must all as I do, recognise we have a large country and a small population, we do not have the people to generate the taxes they do in the USA. We have wide open spaces so no state or district can be aware of every small road failure in all of their area and we cannot expect them to inspect thousands of kilometres of road each week.

With that as a start point, those who control the funding do little driving on our roads, their time is too valuable and they mostly fly. Those who distribute the funding you would hope, would have local knowledge, road building skill and understanding and common sense to ask and or learn if they do not have all the above. Biggest problem with common sense, is that it is not very common now.

Then why, from where I sit bouncing and banging along what is meant to be a National Highway, the Newell, which runs from Brisbane to Melbourne, having to travel on a road where some of the failures can have my wheels off the ground and or throw me around the cabin to the extent my seatbelt will allow, but that only limits the travel, not removes the impacts.

Yes we have generally better roads than we did in the past and yes, they are often wider, safer and carry much more traffic. Yes we have freeways and they deliver much of the city traffic to and from work. But our country depends on roads, not just for freight to and from everywhere to everywhere else, but so you can go visit Grandma and or have a holiday.

Trains do a good job moving bulk commodities and freight over long distances, Perth maybe and they tried to do Darwin and failed badly after spending millions of our dollars. I do believe that rail link should have been built during or immediately after the war, but what would I know. At one stage we had 28 different rail gauges in Australia, no wonder we don’t have as good a rail system as the USA. But no matter where the trains run, you need trucks at each end as no train a kilometre long will stop at the back of your supermarket, nor will it call into your farm to pick up your grain.

So for now, we need trucks. So if you want us to be able to deliver your freight at the cheapest cost, you have to have good roads, so our trucks can travel safely on them. My most recent question to all has been, why must trucks be road friendly, when roads are not truck friendly and why must we be fined for failures caused by the roads. We should be charging the road authorities for repairs, given the roads are meant to be safe, aren’t they?

I have been ringing road authorities for nearly 20 plus years making them aware of road failures. When I started, I was often told, we don’t get many truckies ring to tell us of these problems and so we often don’t know till our crews find them (and even that doesn’t always get things fixed either) but the truck I drive has the technology to graph and locate impacts into the truck, yet the road authorities will not recognise the data. Yes they may be scared it will mean they will have to accept the road has a problem and then find the money to fix it.

I do not ring about a divet the size of my palm, I ring when there is a failure, either badly built, badly repaired or simply, it has failed and I tell them for my safety, for your safety, so they know and can act accordingly to fix it in a timely manner and so that some poor bugger doesn’t come along and not being aware, hits the hole or irregularity and then goes under the front of another car or unsuspecting truckie who only went to work that day to feed his family and who will then invariably be dragged through court, even though the crash was not their fault and possibly have their lives and that of their families destroyed while it is all sorted out.

If lucky it will happen quickly when someone realises it was not the truckies fault, but at worst, it will drag on for months and destroy them and one day, they will be proved not guilty, but it will be too late for them then. This is a worse case, but I have been asking for over 5 years to get one section of road repaired and still it is not done. It is not the only issue, far from it, even the promoted new Dubbo bridge, which the community, the council and many others see as a half arsed cheap non solution to Dubbo’s current and future transport needs, is yet another issue where those who build and pay for it, from my point of view, simply won’t firstly properly consult those who will use it, nor will they listen to them when they disagree. How do you fix any of this? I would welcome your thoughts. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

15th November 2020

Goodaye all. After my last post I loaded Monday, rang TMR re the missing bins at the truckstop opposite the Caltex in Rocky, asked them about getting someone to contact me re the possibility of some additional informal green reflector truck bays and am still waiting for a reply. I stopped in at Narrabri and spoke with the local paper about additional truck parking and whilst the council has slightly moved the offending sign that was hitting trucks trying to use the small northbound bay, it is still over the gutter.

They have also rejected my request for consideration of reopening the area beside McDonalds and say that Woolies will have to be consulted for any change in front of their store, so I have failed to get their initial support, but maybe the paper can help.

It has been a big couple of weeks and then I did an airbag and got held up getting home Saturday, and have a lot to catch up on, so will call this a day and hope to entertain you with more of my life on the road next week. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

8th November 2020 Five states in six days.

Goodaye all. I have just had dinner with my brother-in-law and his lovely family in Rockhampton. I loaded Sunday, into Melbourne Monday, got out at 9PM Monday night, so some long nights to then get into Brisbane for AM Wednesday, a couple of pick-ups and out to Moree that night. Unload in the morning, do some shopping at Narrabri, then onto Newcastle.

Loaded Friday morning and off to a mine north of Emerald, yes open there 24/7, rang and gave them a time and then the next drop sorted, both done without too much fuss and back to Duaringa for fuel and tea, then into Rocky for a 35 hour break.

I did stop in Narrabri again now northbound, to get a new logbook, on the last page and had a chat with a fellow there who suggested we needed a trucks only bay in front of Service NSW for exactly the reason I stopped there. I told him I had already rang the council about increasing marked truck parking and had then followed up as requested with an email. I now have to add the bit there, but did get a phone call back from council after I chased them when shopping, hoping to get to someone and confirm if the issue had been discussed at council yet.

I was told the original lady was now on maternity leave and the next in line was away till Monday, so we agreed they would ring me on their return. I had also walked over and checked out the parking beside McDonalds which I had a hand in getting opened up to trucks years ago. It now has a better surface and when it was closed some years ago and I rang and asked why, had been told it was due to complaints about dust and rubbish. At the time I did comment, then surely it would have been wise to put some bins there? It seems now I have been told of a truck tyre that caught alight, but am yet to confirm. However, I did get a call from Narrabri Council saying the sign beside the northbound Truck Only Bay had been moved away from the road. It was too close and had been hit already by those trying to be well clear of traffic. So a small win, but a start.

The Woolies at Narrabri is one of only two or three supermarkets I can easily access between Melbourne and Brisbane. With harvest on now, it is even more valuable to all the drivers living and working in their trucks locally helping with the enormous amounts of grain currently being transported to silos. Yes there are some truckstops that they will use, but to buy and eat there all the time is an expensive exercise, so they need supplies and many probably cook there own while in the ques at night, as not all work 24/7. The truckies must be putting not only hundreds of thousands of dollars into the Narrrabri economy, but they are also providing jobs for the towns people.

We just need a bit more signed parking to make it a bit easier and I don’t think that is too much to ask. I will keep you informed.

I had parked up with a truck beside me and there was a bit of a breeze, but when I could not sleep and got up to move back a bit so I could turn on the Icepack, there was someone behind me, so I suffered the heat and finally got some sleep. Up and some exercise, then a walk to Bunnings to try and fix a small problem, no good, but ah well, clean out the toolbox, the bunk area, the storage box and catch up on paperwork, then off for a cuppa and tea. It will be into bed early tonight to load for Melbourne in the morning.

I had an email from a driver about a new BP at Tullamarine, have passed that onto BP, another about the Wyong servos and a refusal to allow us to use the toilets, so will have to follow that up and am out of audio books, so will have to transfer some from the laptop to a thumb drive to get me home again next week-end.

Many of you may recall the video interview Whiteline Television did with “Mr Positive, Chris Harmer”. Chris has had a remarkable recovery, but is still unable to drive and we went back for an update. The power of faith from being told he had 12 to 18 months to live and now being cancer free is a terrific recovery, but he has a long way to go. You can see the video at www.truckingnation.com.au Till next time, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

1st November 2020

Goodaye all. Home for my 25 hour visit with the family for this week-end. I did get one night home during the week, a rare change and it worked well as I was not needed that night and had some media to do for our “Stop the River Street Bridge” campaign the next day. I did check out the site as it was raining that afternoon and am keen, but wasn’t going to spend four hours in the rain washing the truck, with the forecast for more rain. I could not stand without slipping that afternoon, yet nearing midday the next day, checked out the site and drove in and parked along with a couple of local prime movers for the handover ceremony.

I did a radio interview in the morning, loaded and then took part with a number of Dubbo stakeholders, from the convenor of the group, the mayor, small business reps and other transport entities at the handover of about 11,000 signatures to see Dubbo try to get a decent and long term traffic solution, instead of a half arsed cheap patch, that will not solve anything now or later. Did a tv interview, then bolted to Melbourne.

I had been to Brisbane Monday and after loading headed north. Less than half an hour out of Dubbo, a siren behind and a random license and logbook check. The gentleman was not exactly friendly, found an error but did not accept my reasoning and said I will get a ticket in the mail. I explained I did not go to work to break the law, we were talking about 15 minutes (or less the way we have to fill in the book), but it was an error and he thinks I should pay. I was cranky with myself and yes, I did make a mistake, but it will show I was legal and I can back it up, so we will see what the review process thinks of it when I fight it.

If I was an hour out, then that is not an error, but there was info in my book, that had I been given the chance to look at it properly and think on it for more than a second, I could have shown it was a mistake, not a breaking of the law or attempt to deceive. Forgive me if I might agree with those who often make the comment, this is about either revenue raising, or putting me in my place. We will see.

I spoke of UFOs on the “Nightshift” radio spot, unidentified farming objects, bright lights out in the middle of dark paddocks and many of them are trying to beat and or deal with the rain, to get crops off. I wish them all success, as what we grow for food and export, contributes to all our libves, in one or more ways.

The other issue was the change in the USA of the differences in many truckstops there. Mandatory Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs which we call Electronic Work Diarys here) started a change where fewer drivers have time for sit down meals and as here, when Covid struck, many US truckstops were initially closed, but then reopened when it was recognised nothing would get delivered without trucks on the road. Many stayed closed for sit down meals and there is a trend for more grabbing something to eat in the truck.

That sounds more like a recipe for less healthy, more overweight and more stressed truckies everywhere. Is this what we want as drivers and what we all need for safe and reliable road transport. Looks like it is going in the wrong direction to me. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

25th October 2020 Back to work.

Goodaye all. Have a week off, dig some holes at home, in the yard of course, go to Canberra for some filming stuff, and get some more support for the next TIV. That was last week. Back into it Sunday, though cleaning the skidplates on both trailers, is not always my favourite way to start the week on a Sunday and have been running ever since. I have Teflon plates on both turntables, so no grease and with the truck in the shop getting the clutch sorted and the trailers due for annual inspection for rego, they had to use another truck to move them. Two trips to Melbourne, then to Purrawunda and into Toowoomba Friday to get the EBS sorted again.

The truck has only had one previous problem with the EBS since we finally sorted the issue of how to fit the radar sensor. Herd supplied the bullbar a terrific effort of support, but they could not cut a hole in it as it was a FUPs bar. After a lot of questions and effort, it was found that with about 1mm tolerance, we could simply mount it on the top of the base. Once hooked up it worked well till it did not and thanks to Knorrr Bremse and there excellent support, it was found the harness under the engine had a join and with a small oil leak and the usual fluids under an engine, the contact got muck in it. It should not have been in that position, but was replaced and moved to a better and less prone spot and has been good since.

Like all things electronic, it works well till it doesn’t. Then being something that either you can’t simply see or feel to be the issue, you need both specific knowledge, tools and for the thing to play up when you inspect it. How many of you have had a problem, gone to get it fixed, to then find, there’s nothing wrong with it at the moment, so you head off only to have the fault reappear. You simply can’t fix things with a shifter and a hammer anymore, can you?

Had my break whilst repairs underway, a few phone calls, rang and put my views on an article about industry safety, then into Brissie to load and get out and deliver on the way home Saturday morning.

Problem was a pin to the ECM. If I think back, I can attribute these pins to 8 breakdowns and issues. Always got going, but something so important in how things work, yet so small in size and makes you wonder if it is not properly designed or built for the task. I will talk to Cummins and if any of you with trucks have had similar issues, I would be interested to hear.

Watching trends in the USA about truckstops and meals, they too had issues early on with the virus and being forced to close food centres, but then were recognised as essential to keep their truckers on the road. Many sites did close and have still not reopened and there seems to be a trend of more buying meals and heading off, with the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate cited as one issue that started the trend and the virus only pushing it further.

I am hoping to build a kitchen box, any thoughts and suggestions welcome and if you are a caravan manufacturer, maybe you would be interested in being a sponsor and helping me build the ultimate one for a truck with your knowledge and expertise with vans and or motorhomes. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.