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.

16th December 2018. What do we do?

The following is from another frustrated driver in response to my latest Owner Driver column. He raises some good points and I have replied with others.

Morning Rod,

Great article.

I’m not sure if it’s the end of the year,but I’m feeling empty,frustrated and directionless.

I feel that most if not all the issues that impact the transport industry would not be tolerated anywhere else!

Why?

The transport industry is the lifeblood of this country!

It’s dependence is far beyond anyone’s comprehension.

I’m friends with an elder gentleman.
He’s retired and has been a large scale business owner for most of his life.

During a conversation we had recently,he told me transport is a “mugs game”,”the only business I know that sinks it’s own value “.

I thought about this for days.

Initially I was insulted.

The more I thought of these statements,the reality was there,he was right!

We devalue the industry that the country is most reliant on.

Question.

How do you sell a career in transport to a school leaver,outlining to them that a lot of their time will be spent for FREE?

Driver shortage,what driver shortage?

I look forward to chatting to you Rod.

I feel your frustration.

Goodaye Darren, I have asked the same question as you pose many times and as you suggest, struggle to answer it to the betterment of both current and future truckies. The world is a cruel place and I doubt we will ever be recognised for the sacrifices we have made in our lives, to improve the lives of others and now of course, they will be pushing the argument that as we cannot get drivers, we need autonomous trucks and the roads will be fixed for them, yet I cannot get them fixed for us now.

Frustration grows, but whilst getting slightly less enthusiastic, I have not given up. Cheers and all the best for a Merry Christmas and a Trucking Good New Year. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey. http://www.truckright.com.au http://www.truckright.blog 0428120560

The driver who sent this has approved me using it. I would not use it otherwise. In the UK they have shirts with, “Without trucks, you would be COLD, NAKED and HUNGRY”, yet we are still being treated badly, not enough rest areas, etc, etc, etc. I want to make the job safer, better and fair, but I can’t do it alone. I would welcome your comments. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

9th December 2018 Filming the Truckies Top Ten Tips (for sharing the road with trucks).

Goodaye all. Yesterday was the first day of filming of the Truckies Top Ten Tips (TTTT) for Sharing the Road with Trucks. With thanks to Rod Pilon Transport for the use of the Melbourne depot, we got underway in the morning and finished after 11 PM, so a long day with a break for lunch in between. Damn it was hard to find somewhere to eat after 2 PM, so many local small shops closed.

Whiteline TV was awarded funding from the NHVR to produce the TTTT and the aim is of course, to provide education for those who have never had the chance to ride in a truck and who may never have been taught about sharing the road with bigger vehicles. To all of you who are without any doubt the best drivers on the road, you may well have learned whilst on the road.

But every day truckies see and respond to people who have plainly either never been taught or who may simply not recognise the issues they cause in not respecting the size and weight of trucks and that we do need a bit more room to get going, to stop and top turn.

These tips came from surveys I did amongst a previous employers drivers with the permission of management and then followed up with a wider survey amongst truck drivers through Owner Driver magazine many years ago and I collated the responses and came up with the TTTT and have been promoting them ever since.

Whether you were taught by your parents, a driving school or simply learnt as you went along, were you given any real education about sharing the road with trucks? Or were you told, just keep away from trucks or even worse, how bad truckies were. Would you agree that such education should be included in the learning and testing regime for obtaining your license. It is true, truckies are not all perfect either, no one is, but we do go to work to get home safely to a family we see far too little of while travelling the highways of Australia to deliver every single thing you eat, wear, use and sell.

“TRUCKS DELIVER AUSTRALIA, OUR NEEDS, OUR PRODUCTS AND OUR WEALTH” is the slogan on the mudflaps on the TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle and of course you may have seen signs on trucks that say “WITHOUT TRUCKS AUSTRALIA STOPS”. In England there were shirts which said, “WITHOUT TRUCKS YOU WOULD BE COLD, NAKED AND HUNGRY” and the USA has a very big campaign to get the public to recognise the contribution trucks play in our everyday lives.

You travel in your car, often for convenience, yes you go to and from work and if you have no public transport, you may well not have another choice. We travel in our trucks, whether round the corner or across the country, so you can eat meals, at home or in a restaurant, be clothed, have fuel for your car, have a house built etc. It is said that every single thing you use has been in a truck, if not just once, but it could be many times.

I will end here as I have to get ready and off to filming, but all we are asking is that, and I hope you will agree, that if we can provide some education to new drivers about sharing the road with trucks, before they get on the road on their own and “learn by accident”, that we can help make them and all other road users safer, truckies included. What do you think? You can find the TRUCKIES Top Ten Tips at http://www.truckright.com.au I would welcome your thoughts. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

2nd December 2018. Truck That.

Goodaye all. Just been out to the yard to film our top and tail for TRUCK That December due out in the next few weeks. To those of you who have seen our TRUCK That videos, we had a bit of a break whilst I did my Churchill Fellowship Study Tour and my report on the study trip, as done for the Churchill Trust is now up on the Churchill Trust website. It is about 60 pages and covers the trip and who I met etc.

It was an incredible 6 plus weeks and I still hope to follow up with more work on rest areas. Last year I said January was Rest areas month and I will follow up with a document that also uses what I saw overseas, as well as our take on the problem here. They too have some of the same problems, but unfortunately, have not found all of the solutions. Some years ago, the US Government passed “Jason’s Law” requiring more truck rest areas. This came about after Jason was robbed of $6 and killed, while parked in an abandoned truck stop, as he had nowhere else to park.

His wife then spent the next three years travelling and complaining about the problem of insufficient rest areas, finally leading to the law being passed, an incredible effort. I am sure you will be shocked to hear, the problem still exists, though in some states more than others. There is currently another “Jason’s Law” rest area survey being undertaken there to get information from truckers, about where they have such issues.

Like too many things, it should not take someone being killed whilst simply trying to do his job and feed his family and his wife should not have to spend 3 years to get the government to even listen. Still those we are asking to recognise the problem, do no see it. To them it does not exist because they do not “live” on the road. How do we get them to see, let alone act? When you find out, please let me know.

One of the people I met on my trip was Bruce Outridge, an ex-driver, now author, speaker and industry advocate in Canada. Bruce left trucks initially to pursue another career and part of that was his love of and ability to draw. I was lucky enough to win one of his caricatures after being on his podcast during the trip. Bruce and his lovely wife took me in and looked after me for a couple of days in Canada and I do hope to get back there one day.

I will attach it here for your comments and any of you involved with trucks and rest areas, please feel free to add some comments as well. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.
PS, I will add next week when I have time to find out how to. It won’t go across, sorry and I have to get off to work to go to Melbourne. Cheers Rod.

25th November 2018. On the roadside.

Goodaye all. For a bit of a change, I did a trip to Sydney and back as a single semi this week. Having just flown there and back the week before and the airfares were not cheap, I did not have half as much fun in the truck.
I missed the start of a big truck blitz on my way out of Sydney and whilst I was pulled into the weighbridge both on the way in and out, I was treated fairly and the fellows I dealt with were OK, though they did find something for me to get fixed and I don’t have a problem with that. Many years ago pulled up by the then RTA at Ballina, after an inspection, I chatted with the officer and he made the comment, they were there to look after my safety and we agreed, I would rather have them find something I was unaware of and prevent an issue, than not.

On the other side of that is the attitude of some of those we deal with on the side of the road. We, just as much as them, can be affected by the days’ issues, but they are meant to act professionally, as they will shove down our throat when we make a mistake, you are a professional driver and should set an example, know better, etc. If they are the (much better) paid professional, who get living away from home, motels and meals paid (that I am sure are better than some roadhouse tucker) and have showers and toilets available at the least each night, then all we ask if we do behave with respect, is that they do the same.

I will be the first to say not all truckies are respectful, professional or the worlds best drivers, but surely we should be treated with initial respect on the side of the road, unless we act badly. To be accosted with “LICENSE AND LOGBOOK”, no please or anything, no wonder some of our blokes do not respond so nicely. And just imagine, as will have happened during this blitz, last week, some drivers will be pulled in and grilled, delayed for far more than a few minutes, and then still get pulled into the weighbridge less than half an hour up the road.

I have had drivers tell me of being stopped four times in one day for a “roadside inspection” and one fellow topped this with five times. On the fifth, he asked the policeman who had stopped him, who he had killed to be stopped so often in one trip. The officer said, well, how did you go with the last four, no problems, was the reply, well I’m going to ping you for this. Strange then that the driver involved was not overly impressed with the roadside inspections. There must be a better way to spend the taxpayers money than having some trucks stopped three or four times in one day and many not stopped at all.

I have been stopped southbound by TMR Qld before Goondiwindi during one blitz, only to be stopped again at Boggabilla by RMS NSW less than 20 minutes later. How is that reasonable to anyone? When such blitzes occur, then the public see all the police etc stopping trucks and think we must all be bad and the resources and costs involved, must be astronomical and so they then have to issue as many fines as possible to both justify the cost of the operation and then to crow about how many things they found wrong or illegal. The fact they will NEVER release the full outcome and list of offences, which, I truly believe, would show many minor and non-safety related things, but which they still include with the few bad things, then they are wrongly portraying the whole industry.

But will I, as a single driver, get listened to or even heard in the media? Believe me I have tried, sometimes getting a fair go and others, not even being able to get through to give a reasoned view. Then some that might get through, are either already riled at how we have been treated and portrayed, but may not be the best spokesperson we might have to give our view. I am closely aware of some television shows, that will far more likely give time to a yahoo who will yell and scream and swear, which makes us all look like idiots, than give that time to someone who can and will offer, a far more reasoned and reasonable response. Still, as one driver, I can only keep trying. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

18th November 2018. TIV initiative reaches Ten Years on the road.

Goodaye all. This is my “press release” for the TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle (TIV) initiative reaching ten years and I have sent it to all who have supported the TIV thus far and to industry press. My November Owner Driver column (out this week) is to the same theme. (Sorry the photos in the press release do not transfer, more to learn yet.)

TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle Initiative Reaches Ten Years.
Not being able to convince a major transport company of the value of this idea, I left after 29 years. I approached Rod Pilon for a job and with this plan for a working truck to promote road safety and the road transport industry. Rod said if I work out ok, in 12 months he’d buy me a new truck and trailers.
Ken Wilkie, knowing of my dream, offered me his K104 for two years and I then asked Rod Pilon if I could buy the trailers I was towing. Rod said he would buy me a new set and I made up a list which Rod approved and at the ATA convention in Canberra in 2008, Rod bought the second offered auction trailer and said he wanted a b-double set and that was agreed to. I went to congratulate Rod and he got up and shook my hand and said, “There are your trailers”.

New TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle Trailers being picked up at Vawdrey in Melbourne on Ken Wilkie’s K104 in 2008.

Rod had said I could have the sides of the back trailer, but then agreed to look at my curtain design and on a laptop, it looked “busy”. Rod’s “mmm” when I showed him was not what I’d hoped for, but when I arrived in the yard in Dubbo with the first load, Rod said, “You did well, it does look good”.
Two years on, Thanking Ken Wilkie for a gesture unlikely ever to be equalled, I gave his truck back and then spent a year back in RPT Truck 7. Rod Pilon then offered to buy me a new K200 and to continue with his support. I had many sponsors who contributed to the new truck and or the trailers and I thank them all for their participation and support. With a new truck, I had to do new curtains and with Rod’s permission, I designed and ordered a set which I funded through photos/ donations.

Last Trip First TIV 2010, Thanks Ken. RPT Truck 7 and TIV trailers. New K200 at Kenworth Plant 2011

TIV trailers one million kilometres 2013. Reach two million end of 2018. Only one trailer brake lining just replaced.

The current TIV prime mover will reach 1.4 million kilometres in August and the trailers will be 10 years old in October this year and I am working on the next TIV.

Without the support of Rod Pilon and all at Rod Pilon Transport, the TIV would not exist, nor be able to attempt to offer a picture of road transport to the public not seen anywhere else. The NRMA video, “NRMA hitches a 10 hour ride with a truckie” was seen by well over a million people and the 99% positive comments alone, justify the TIV. When I started, I decided the worst thing that could happen would be that I would waste my time, effort and money and if nothing changed, so be it. But if I saved just one life by getting a bit of road fixed, or a rest area built or improved, or educated one motorist, then it would be well worth the effort and I am proud of what the TIV has achieved.

TIV as AB Triple on way to Mt Isa. TIV at night.

TIV Conspicuity Markings.

TIV at ACRS 2016 Awarded Highly Commended. TIV at Henty Field Days. TIV at “Stone the Crows” Festival Wagga Wagga.

I wish to THANK Ken Wilkie, Rod Pilon and all at Rod Pilon Transport and all the sponsors who have contributed and or supported the TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle over its’ ten year journey. Without you all, it would not exist. I commit to doing it again in the next TIV for the next five years and would welcome any and all support that will allow me to achieve even more. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

For a list of events/riders in the TIV visit http://www.truckright.com.au and follow http://www.truckright.blog
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As you might imagine and knowing how I don’t want to be seen to be blowing my own trumpet, (though if I don’t who will?) I could write a book on the ten years and do aim to one day. But few may be interested in that much depth of information, particularly being to many, just another truckies life.
The TIV is still probably not really widely known outside the road transport industry, though not for the want of trying and any of you who have access to a different market or group, I would welcome your support if you wish to redistribute it further. It is only one small attempt to change and improve how we are seen and to show a different side to that which all too often, is the only way the press show us, after something happens on the road leading to the death of a motorist.

We are not all perfect and I have never made that claim, but I still hope and believe those who do the job because they love it, still do it with some passion and recognition of the part we have to play to be seen that way. Those idiots who just do the job and don’t care how we are seen or treated, can go and do another job if they wish.

I am not, cannot and do not claim to be a representative for others, good or bad, but do try to do more than “just” be a driver and I applaud all others who make any effort to do the right thing and to improve our lot, on the road and elsewhere. Thanks to those who do make that effort, whether a driver, a journo or other industry role bearer. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

11th November 2018. Lest we Forget. Farms and rain and Trucking.

Goodaye all.  To all who do recognise and remember, “Lest we Forget” today.

Sorry for missing you last week, too much work and too little time. A farm delivery Saturday afternoon and just in time, as the rain came down less than an hour back down the road and I should have been able to get in and out on the hard road, but the forklift would not have copped at all. That meant I got home 10PM Saturday night, slept in the truck and was to be loaded the next morning while on my break, but someone needed a key to get the freight and so a bit more time lost. Then back on the road at 10PM that night headed for Toowoomba.

Unload etc then have my break, thanks to ICEPACK, it was a much enjoyed sleep. In to Brisbane and load for Goondiwindi, reload a bit and home to Dubbo, then load for Melbourne. I do understand timeslots for DCs (distribution centres) but I fail to see how a timeslot booked three days in advance when so many things can change (and mostly things well out of my control) really fits with Chain of Responsibility, let alone getting there and then sitting for 3 to 4 hours.

I believe a driver should be able to contact the DC and have some flexibility available to them. Some are good and others seem to think they rule the world and particularly, yours. If you are only given a 15 minute window early and after 30 minutes late, are told to “Rebook and come back another day”, then after 45 minutes, they should be paying demurrage and I bet we would not be sitting there for three hours plus then.

The USA was due to try and get a law in that anytime over an hour at a DC would incur demurrage charges and this should be brought in here. I am still watching the USA to see if and when it might get up. Of course no one else cares about our time being wasted, do they?

My mate Yogi got a fine for a camera offense and it is one of the things the TRUCK THAT Australia Drivers Club put up for review. Please explain how a fine previously deemed to be an attempt to avoid Safe-t-cam by moving to the side of the road, can still take your photo and issue said fine? Crossing the left hand line or fog line is of no safety issue to anyone and if they can still take your photo, how can they justify $1400 plus 4 demerit points?

I was coming out of Melbourne Thursday afternoon, grossing over 66 tonne and displaying Bulk Dangerous goods signs and this goose in a ute could not wait behind me to take the next exit, he came up beside me and nearly pushed the car in front, so he could move into a non-existent gap between us to get off at the exit at the last second. I lit him up and gave him the horn and he of course was so sorry for making such a stupid and dangerous driving error, he gave me the finger and it seemed, screamed abuse at me. Sorry for not allowing you to be stupid in a safe way.

This happens on a regular basis, people seem to think the truck should do all and anything to allow them to do what and when they want. Do they realise it is not just a car they expect us to fling about and speed up or slow down for them, so they can risk both our lives not quite as badly? How many of you were taught about trucks when you got your license and have you been taught by anyone since?

I would welcome your views on two questions.
1. Do you believe we now teach people just to pass the driving test, let alone survive on the road for the next 50 years?
2. Were you given any instruction, guidance or knowledge about sharing the road with trucks when you did your learners?
Off to Melbourne now and I look forward to your replies. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

28th October 2018. Do you like audiobooks?

Goodaye all. My apologies for deserting you last week. Just not enough hours in the day.
This is my post from this weeks “Audiobooks for the road” Facebook page. I did get one done there last week and was feeling a little bit philosophical and don’t want to get too far behind with what I have read and then as it were, lose the plot.

I am in two minds to the future and will have a more succinct plan soon, or it will be too late for the next and last TIV, hence my uncertainty on a few things. This audiobook page is another one of my hobbies now and the job of interstate truckie can be a long and lonely one and yes I do enjoy radio and music. But I have loved reading since being a kid and yet with this job and trying to keep up with industry news and events, there is little time for reading for enjoyment, hence my passion for audiobooks.

So I will ask any of you who are fans of audiobooks both for your favourites and if interested, in your comments.

If I aim to continue with the TIV concept, survive and retire with more than $5 to live on, I must find a major sponsor and I have looked and asked and it seems, I need to do it some more, so I shall start now and keep you informed. In the meantime, let me know what you enjoy and think of audiobooks.

28/10/2018 Goodaye all. I am certainly a fan of David Baldacci, his characters John Puller, Will Robbie, King and Maxwell and Amos Decker have all enticed me into stories and kept me entertained for hours. And having checked another list, I find there are many more including stand alone books. So many books to read, so little time.

I think I have read nearly all of them and did go and get the list to see what I had missed, but in the library last week saw “The Fix” and checking, found I had not read it yet. So I am familiar with the character and yet this book held my attention from start to finish.
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Even in conversation with young Greg about books only yesterday in the yard, your mood can have a big impact on whether a particular story will take your interest. How you are feeling, what is going on, whether you need to escape life for a day or so. How many of you have thought about this, or do you disagree?

I have said from the start of this page, you must drive safely first. Yes books can keep your mind engaged instead of getting bored and losing concentration or getting drowsy, but you must know where you are and what you are doing. Letting your mind drift too far and getting enthralled into a story, that means you lose concentration about your surroundings, is when you should consider turning it off. Even changing CDs can be unsafe, so please enjoy the story, but don’t it let it make you a danger to yourself and or others.

Reading others reviews, some loved it, some did not. To me it kept changing, yes I may have done some eye rolling at pieces, but it went through things as we all do that impact on our lives. Maybe I just needed some escapism to take my mind off other things, but I loved it. Rating 4.6 Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

14th October 2018. What am I doing?

Goodaye all. Following on from last week, what can I do? Well, I have sent a list to my RMS contact thanking him for some repairs I asked to be done, complaining of those done that have failed and suggesting I am about ready to start making a lot more noise about the impacts on the Newell between Narrabri and Goondiwindi, the most and worst impacts in one section of “highway” in Australia.

I have written to the NHVR direct with a list of concerns and requests, some of which are ongoing and some of which are serious in nature, some only minor. I wrote to the Minister about the upcoming Strategy for the Newell, asking where did all the effort go I put into the last one and did get a reply back, saying that effort will be part of the data.

I am chasing the green reflector informal truck bay posters NHVR have before another minister awaiting approval, so I can put them up in roadhouses along the Newell and finally, after only 19 years, complete something so simple, cheap and effective, it should be across Australia. I have spoken with a couple of others who support the green reflectors and offered comment and I have replied to the welcome Facebook page by TMR about them, but they have not replied.

I am working on a caravan reviver idea for Dubbo next year, will be involved in filming next week for a road safety with trucks effort, will be near joyfully happy, when we get the “TRUCKIES TOP TEN TIPS” filmed in the new year to be available to schools and others to see something finally done, on educating motorists about sharing the road with trucks.

I am asking members of road authorities why they are so precious about us using their stockpile sites and is it not better to have a tired driver able to stop, when we do not have and I honestly doubt, will have in my lifetime, suitable and sufficient truck rest areas for us to safely manage our fatigue, let alone the rules to give us a fair go.

I am asking why there is all stick and no carrot in anyone’s dealing with drivers, another driver has sent me his tale of woe and yet another, who is trying to do something positive, found he has been ignored, so I have offered another idea to try.

I am waiting to win the Lotto of find someone who will help me make the next and last TIV, the best as I can’t do it alone. I just need someone who loves trucks more than money. I am trying to catch up on my reading here, as I have a bag full of books for the USA etc to go through from my trip and others yet to email. I did email and put in a submission to the FMCSA in the US and emailed the Washington Dept of Transport about the rest area with no bins.

I have just done my Facebook “Audiobooks for the road” page, now the blog and next my column for Owner Driver and then will have to get ready for work, hoping to get some repairs done tomorrow, before being on the road to Melbourne for a timeslot Tuesday morning, where I have qued from the road for over two hours, to even get to the gate previously.

I am tired and frustrated, need a dentist and the time and money to get to one and wish I was a better Father and there more for my family. This has become not just a job, but a hobby and a passion and at times, it is soul destroying when you cannot get one bit of road fixed, that is simply, dangerous and it seems, no one else (except for the drivers who have to live with all this) cares.

We spend too much time alone on the road, to do nothing and I truly believe, what I do can make a difference and save a life and it has kept me sane, but the other unseen impacts, I will have to live with for the rest of my life and will probably never understand them all, or how they have impacted others close to me. I am trying. Maybe I will have to think more on the answers to these problems. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

7th October 2018 Who is the danger?

Goodaye all. I have just read of the dangerous nature of our industry. Strange how we can be killed and maimed and pushed and treated like animals for years and now we must be made safe. All the experts now agree it is terrible. Yet why do all these experts have all the say, when those involved have been ignored for years?

So many times drivers have tried to be involved, to contribute and yet even more so, many have said no one will listen when they do. If I was a cynical bugger, I would say that there have been times we have been excluded from such opportunities to contribute by the way such requests were made to us. I have complained to all and sundry over the years that drivers need to be made aware of the chance to contribute in a timely way and in a way, they are comfortable to do so.

Putting out requests in industry press that reaches us after the closing date or not far from it, so we learn of the request too late to even consider it, only allowing written input, when I struggle to explain things in person, how can you explain it in writing, to some one who does not do the job?

Yes there have been meetings arranged and promoted at times and I have managed to attend some over time, but no one will pay me or any other driver to attend. I could lose nearly a weeks pay to drive to such a meeting, accommodation so I am not fatigued to drive home and when I have not been listened to before, why would I do that again?

I have asked drivers to attend meetings as I can’t go to all and do not want to be the only one who does at times and had them treated like scum and looked down upon by those conducting such meetings, only to be told by the driver afterwards, “I will never do that again, so don’t ever ask me to do it again!” I have even been abused over the phone for having the audacity to give out the phone number for a major entity when drivers say to me it is hard to explain in writing and so I said, give them a call.

Yes, it is hard to get to us. We are so widespread in our industry, we have ten different sectors or more, we are spread across the country with less and less facilities, far too few rest areas, let alone decent ones and we are blamed for the majority of crashes in the press and the figures they use are based to only make us look the bad guy every time.

Why is this industry the most dangerous? Our roads, our vehicles and other drivers all have known and in some ways, seemingly ignored contributions. With some of the impacts I hit each week, it is a true wonder we do not have more equipment failures on the road. Who else monitors that and do any road authorities have anything in place, let alone the funds to fix this. I have been told many things, from if the road is not visually broken, then it is not a problem, to it is a major repair and we don’t have the money to fix it.

When I have rang to complain of a bit of road, I have been told “It does not meet our intervention levels” and when I have offered data from the truck to verify how bad the impact is into the truck, been told that is not relevant! Yes I have had many bits fixed, some within days, weeks and some, such as one corner in Queensland, I have been asking to have fixed for well over 4 years and did get a phone call just last week to be told it is now allocated for repair, NEXT financial year.

What has been done in the last 20 years to help educate other drivers, those in cars responsible for the vast majority of crashes between cars and trucks? Very little. Years ago I suggested a video at time of licensing and did do such a video, but was told the authorities did not have tv screens available. A few years later I complained again about the lack of questions in learner driver handbooks and there was a change to include at least two questions relating to trucks, but that is still simply not enough.

What more can I do and what needs to be done? Next week my answers, but I would welcome your views. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

29th September 2018 Sydney and Adelaide for a change.

Goodaye all. A divergent week after a normal type start, loading Monday and delivering in Melbourne Tuesday, then load Bulk DG for a turf farm in Windsor out the end of Sydney. Get to the end of the road in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night and a No Through Road on the left, no name for the business I am looking for, but being very early in the morning after a long drive, I imagined then I should go right. Bad move. Travel along to find the street numbers dwindling when I had hoped they would go higher and the road getting narrower and no cross roads visible, so found a wide driveway into another farm and did a three point turn just managing to miss the one telegraph pole, right at the opposite side, the gutter on one side and the deep drain on the other.

Back up to the junction to find no name, but a street number in the dark just past the No Through Road sign. MMMMM, can’t stop on the road, so in to the NO Thru with trepidation and to bed. Not even asleep and a toot toot, up and look out, you can’t park there, drive down to the farm. Yeh right, off after him and a bloke would not drive down there in a car not knowing what was ahead and I am in something somewhat bigger. I hit the powerlines with the aerials on the truck trying to get around the corner, hit the trees getting down the road and then parked up and went to bed.

Unloaded later that morning and then some phone problems after that, me and the bill issues, then into Sydney and load for Adelaide. Barely get in the gate off the road to load even from the wrong side of the road and then a que of trucks pulls up behind and glares at me as I load my b-double with a full load. Don’t rush I’m told, they will just have to wait, but they can’t get round me or back out now, so they glare as I try to hurry safely. I would not have been happy waiting an hour. Two forks on me now (and found later one had hit the back of the plastic guard and bent the mudflap bracket after I had just fixed the other side last week from another forkie) and off to Adelaide.

Another road to continue my listing of truck rest areas, informal truck bays etc, so a good thing that way as well. After some big sections with either lots of stupidly sized and painted, yet ridiculously too small painted shoulder bays, or good rest areas with gaps or nothing at all for miles and after finding a spot south of Mildura to sleep in, I then ran on into Adelaide. Unloading all good and getting fuel with an issue with the new truck GPS system that hopefully won’t come back and bite me, but the fellows with the crane and witches hats I had to get around, seemed impressed I missed them, with much thumbs up going on.

Coming up out of Adelaide I was musing on the roughness of the road on the Sturt Highway northbound went over a crest and whoa, it felt like 4 hits together, what a ride, probably with the wheels off the ground and the skidmarks which followed this engineering marvel, attest to the fact someone else had a serious issue with it too. I did have some other things on my mind like managing my hours to get home in time for trailer machinery inspections, so it was the next day before I rang to lodge a complaint. I did speak with another driver during the night who said, yes I know that bit and use the other lane. I asked had he complained and suggested he did, as he is on that road every week.

When I rang I mentioned the fact I thought it was the biggest impact in the last 5 years and I was concerned. To the credit of the gentleman I spoke with, he rang back asking had I seen the rough surface signs and I did not recall them, but that the way I described it, they could not just patch it and he had ramped it up to a major repair. I had offered my name and number initially and he asked could he pass that on if needed and I agreed and will hope to save some other poor bugger from such an impact. I was driving and so could not take details from him, but he texted me an incident number and I will follow up in two weeks. Any of you who know the road and issue I speak of, I would welcome any comments and support of the repair please.

Got home, machineries done, a few minor repairs as I went straight there and then the accelerator died again as per last week. In the scheme of things, at least I was in Dubbo and had the inspections done and was loaded. Still got it back to the yard and had it fixed for now with some more work to follow hopefully next week.

Whilst loading the young lady spoke of her plans for the long weekend. Ah yes, that would be nice, but with the holiday only in NSW, I get to go to work Sunday like normal to be able to do a timeslot in Melbourne early Monday after unloading the back trailer, so yes, a long week end would have been nice. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.