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

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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 August Columbus Ohio.

Goodaye all. On Saturday I visited Niagara Falls, virtually going past from Toronto on my way to Chillicothe anyway and Bruce and Carmen said being so close, if I didn’t go I would be a goose. The falls are magnificent on first appraisal and while I took photos and video, they do not capture it to its best. On arrival I went looking around, having found there would be a band and fireworks that night and I still had a day now to get to Kenworth for Monday, as most of the American Trucking Association staff were on their way to the National Truck Driving Championships in Columbus, so I was told it would be a waste going to Washington to see them and so had stayed another day in Toronto for the truckshow there.

I went and did a little shopping for the family, walking maybe 7 or 8 kilometres during the day and night, but it is very commercial there and quite a surprise, I took photos and videos during the day and night and headed off after the fireworks. Based on the vehicles and people, I envisaged a long slow trek out as I thought and the parking attendant agreed, there was only one way in and out. So I had planned to sit in the car and catch up on my report.

However it looked like a good start out of the parking area and the Police on point duty sent me the other way and with a stop and a target in the GPS to guide me out the back way, I was on the highway in less than 10 minutes. Now on the way into Canada, I had come upon the Illinois Tollroad with no signs or warnings for the tolls. My GPS had a setting for avoiding tolls, yet had given no warning of the issue there, but this time decided to save me $10 in tolls and cost me two hours and more fuel in avoiding a few on the main highway south.

I ended up on a much smaller road for hours and in the scheme of things, it was probably a good chance to see the lesser roads and I ended up in the early hours of the morning in a small and run down truckstop where I asked and was told I could sleep out the back.

Next morning after a sleep in and some fuel, I was on the road and reached Chillicothe that evening. I sussed out the plant and went and found a motel for a shower and bed. My tour started the next morning at 9AM and went till lunch, with one of the four Assistant Plant Managers as my guide, we did an introduction and tour and he then bought me lunch in the cafeteria where I sat in with some of his friends and explained again, what I was doing there.

The plant is at capacity and working on increasing that over the next couple of years. There are 2300 employees with 1300 involved in the assembly of trucks, 53 component suppliers within a 250 Mile range of the plant and at the end of my tour I had asked JD, my guide, for what he sees as the safety aims for Kenworth. He said driver assistance was increasing to be able to be more aware of our surrounds and those travelling within those surrounds and driver comfort, to reduce fatigue and again, keep us with more ability and time to watch and drive, rather than just drive.

There are Kenworths everywhere and I took photos, visited the predelivery down the road and then the dealership over the road as well, after the tour. The manager there said he was possibly not the best to ask, but that he was seeing an increase in technology fitments, but a pushback from some drivers.

My tour with Cummins has been deferred till next week and whilst I have met with one of the ATA staff here in Columbus and been invited to the Breakfast of Champions for the National Truck Driving Championships, I will have to leave by noon to meet my commitment for a truck show 12 hours away. So I have decided to sit here and catch up with my report which is now into 16 pages, do a blog or two, send in my column for Owner Driver and I thought, catch up on some sleep.

But I have just spent the last hour on the phone with an Australian truckie who has raised some more hairy issues for some of the things that we deal with on the rod and their legality. I have to be up early and am up to date with my diary, nearly up to date with my report, showered and mostly packed and am off to bed at 10.30 PM Columbus time on the 15th. It was my youngest daughters and second grandsons’ birthdays yesterday and it is my second sons’ birthday at home in Australia on the 16th and as with my job all too often, I am a long way away, but I love my children dearly and miss them all. Safe Travelling to all, Rod Hannifey.

Canada 12th August 2018

Goodaye all. I am in Burlington Toronto Canada, staying with Bruce Outridge and yesterday we attended the Great Canadian Truckshow at Flamboro. It has been an interesting couple of days and does show, you never know who you will meet or where it will lead.

Years ago I had spoken with Stan Campbell, a Canadian truck radio show host, doing an interview over the phone about trucking here. I had contacted Stan prior to the Churchill Fellowship trip and he had said contact him when I get to the USA, which I did and we did an 18 minute interview about the trip. Stan followed up with an email, listing some other contacts he suggested I try and speak with.

The first was James Menzie who is the editor of TRUCKNEWS based in Toronto and I rang and contacted James who was under a deadline and couldn’t come to me, so I went to visit him in the new offices only opened a couple of weeks ago. We chatted and taped an interview and as we got back to the foyer, I was asked are you the Aussie? Another call I had made to Bruce, though it seems he had trouble understanding my wide Aussie accent on the phone in a noisy environment and had asked his wife to track me down on my phone.

Using it here has lead to some not being able to call me back, but Carmen did and had rang just as I arrived at James’ reception. I had though it was James, as I was a bit late and Carmen asked where I was. I gave the address and Bruce had been on his way there for an interview about the new offices and the merger of two trucking publication houses coming together here.Bruce and Rod.Bruce and Rod.We then filmed a podcast and Bruce knows all these people very well having worked with them for years. Bruce then did the podcast he had come to do with Manan Gupta the new General Manager of Newcom South Asian Media Company and I was then invited to tag along for a tour of the new floor of offices and met more staff. We had a cup of coffee and met some more of the team there and Bruce asked where I was going next.

My initial plan had not born such magnificent fruit as this series of events and I did not have a specific aim when that did not go as well as hoped, but had moved straight on to visit James. However, Bruce told me he was attending a truckshow the next day and invited me to stay with him and then attend. Bruce and his lovely wife Carmen took me in and fed me and have looked after me like family for the last three days and I cannot thank them enough, for adopting an Aussie truckie a long way from home.

Bruce is an avid industry advocate here, having been an owner operator, driver and was awarded 2011 Industry Ambassador, writes about the industry, does podcasts under the banner, Lead Pedal Podcast and is not only a passionate trucker, but a talented artist and caricature artist as well.

This was only the second year for the truckshow and attending on Friday being the set up day, had only a number of very keen and passionate people there. But all of the trucks were beautiful and there were drivers doing all the last minute touch ups and polishing for the real full on show for Saturday and Sunday. The driver shortage or is it a pay shortage in the USA, is the biggest people issue in the industry wherever I have gone. The UK is looking for drivers, the US and Canada as well with a number of companies attending, aiming to recruit drivers to the fold.

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Some companies had a truck and or staff on hand and hope to get some good leads and drivers during the days of the show. Being set up day and having 85 trucks last year, I can only imagine they will have a fantastic turn up of trucks and wish them all the best for the show. A barbeque was held for all attending Friday night, but we left to have some tea and Bruce has other commitments today, so I am trying to catch up here, before hitting the road.

I spent time on the phone with Matt Richardson from the Truck Training School Association of Toronto, another contact from Stan, but all of those Stan put in contact with are friends and industry colleagues and have all been interested and welcoming.
Canada was the birthplace of the b-double and where Australia got the idea from and that was the reason I wanted to include Canada in my itinerary. There are still very new looking combinations on the road in the same original spec, prime mover with a tri-axle and then a bogie and from my perspective, we have gone a long way from there, going then bogie/tri, then tri/tri, quad/quad super b’s and now up to the very recent announcement of a b-quad. With such different weight laws in the many states of the US, Canada has both a Federal regulation, but each of the provinces has its’ own as well. Sounds like the bad old days in Aus, perhaps we have actually moved forward, even if only with some things, with the NHVR.

I have a couple more contacts to follow up and thank all in Canada, particularly Bruce and Carmen for their hospitality and friendliness.

I am off now to visit Kenworth at Chillacothe, then Cummins in Jamestown where they make the ISX 15 we use with such gusto in Australia, then a truck show in Eau Claire and onwards towards the Great American Truckshow in Dallas. It has been a long way across the USA and into Canada, lots of photos, some interesting drivers and videos, though most are happy to talk, not all want to be videoed and I am still collating and asking, “What is you biggest road safety concern on the highway here?”
There is much alignment with our issues at home, some variation on who or what is the worst, but my aim is still the same, to ask and to learn and put a friendly face forward for Aussie trucking. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey http://www.truckright.com.au

6th August 2018 St Paul Minnesota

Goodaye all. The PACCAR Technical Centre and test track are a marvellous facility to make Kenworths better and stronger for the road. I was not allowed to take photos inside, but what toys they have, including trucks. Things I still can’t pronounce, that do not only stress testing of components, but to a near cell level and a number of engine test beds, jigs for accelerating stress and mileage on trucks and a test track.

It would cost a fortune to test a new truck and or engine for a million miles on the road, drivers, fuel and even running 24 hours a day, a long time indeed. But not only can they run engines under very consistent conditions continuously in bays, to ascertain fuel use, parts life etc, they can alter those conditions from I think it was 30 below to 55 above. They can also change the air intake to reflect operating at altitude and run trucks on dynamometers to again confirm specific outputs and component life.

It was suggested they could do a million miles of testing on the test track in 3 to 4 months and for structural parts, in 3 to 4 weeks on a jig. Of course on the road you do not hit the dips and potholes every inch of the way and so on the test track and then even more on the jigs, they can replicate very harsh conditions not only consistently, but at a much accelerated pace than would occur on the road, hence saving costs, reducing testing time and supplying a product meant to last.

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You might not think these offset bumps look too bad and maybe not much worse than some culverts on the Newell, but they do test them pretty hard here.

After the tour I headed back down towards Seattle and stayed on the other side at Smokey Point Rest Area again for the night. I then travelled into Everett and visited the Boeing factory. I spent some time on the deck and saw one of the DREAM Lifters land, bringing a set of wings from Japan and then did the Boeing Factory Tour.

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The plane in the foreground picks up the engines which are too heavy for the Dreamlifter to carry. Then it was time to head east. I drove into the night up and own through the mountains with chaining up bays until finally another rest area, they got thin and far apart here.

In the morning I took some photos and video and watched a fellow drop his trailer in the rest area. I walked over and he had some ramps down and was backing his 3 wheeler trike up onto the gooseneck. His wife had been riding it as he was too heavy on the drive (the trike weighs 800kg he said) for the scales I stopped at the night before, but his wife was suffering from the heat as she had the day before. When his wife first started travelling with him, they had rented cars and it had cost a fortune, so the bike was bought and carried and when they are held over, they go sightseeing and his wife “drives” the trike.

He detailed her first trip, hearing all these gasps and wondering where and why. He looked and it was his wife, saying “Did you see that car driver cut you off and the other one?” “Yes” he said, “Welcome to my world” and so I asked him to do a video and he told his wife, we are having a 30 minute break now.

After I offered where I am from, what I am doing etc, another driver answered my introductory question, “What is your biggest road safety concern on the highway?” with other drivers in cars. This has been consistently the biggest response, but there have been a few who have said other truck drivers. He also explained the lift axles you will see on many trucks are to comply with US laws after loading in Canada where the laws are more lenient for weight. Lift axles cannot be used in Canada and must be chained up if you go to California. One driver had a sticker on his truck, “I refuse to travel to the Republic of California”. Few like going there it seems.

I visited my first “Loves Truckstop” where there is a wall of coffee, a wall of soda (softdrink) a bay with 10 different sausages cooking continuously and tried 2 for $3.99, each on a bun and including condiments and tax, $4.29 and a large (read bloody big) Pepsi for $1.69 and tax, $1.82. I did not find another Loves till Saturday night and they all have Subway (like we do in Australia) linked to their shop, but no restaurants of their own anywhere. This photo from a Pilot/Flying J I think, but they all have serious coffee issues.

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While eating my dogs, the store manager was interviewing a lady for a job there and not only was he very passionate, he would have nearly convinced me to apply. I then stopped at my first Flying J Pilot truckstop. Had a sticky beak (and every time I said this I got strange looks and was asked “What”, then parked on the shoulder and walked up and got some footage from the overpass.

I am in St Paul Minnesota now and going for a tour with 3M tomorrow in their Transport Safety Division. It has been a long drive across from Seattle, stopping at many truckstops and rest areas and speaking with drivers, taking photos and a few videos. In the first few days I could not find a truckstop with its own restaurant and even last night used one in the same complex, but not part of the chain

Some do have good parking and there are some rest areas we would kill for, but I do wonder about the problem and the solution. Whilst in the first couple of days across Washington and Montana, there were signs for each rest area and then another sign saying next rest area 86 Miles for example, show there are some big gaps. Signs at each exit listed Lodging and if too many choices, another sign showing who for gas and food. There were truckstops too, but having been reasonably frequent, when they disappear without notice and you just have to keep driving, it can be a big gap.

I pulled into a weighbridge in Montana late the first night out from Boeing and spent nearly an hour chatting with the fellows there and of course, one of their staff is a big “Outback Truckers” fan. My first turnpike triple rolled in while I was there and they said, “We can stop him for you” but I doubted the driver would be so happy to be stopped just for me. They were good to talk to and I left them with the thought of our sausage sizzle weighbridge days and they had done similar things but 15 or more years ago and vowed to check my website and follow up with the discussion we had.

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Now into my seventh day here and travelled some miles, that is the only weighbridge I have seen open. The signs change for rest areas as do the speed laws in different states, the roads have been terrific with the odd bump, but I have been mostly on Interstates. Road works that go for miles with no work on the week ends as I have travelled here, but still the speedlimit only drops to 55 MPH unless there is a narrow part and then to 45MPH, but there are signs saying the penalty doubles if workers present.

Whilst I was told there is meant to be a national road transport agreement across the US, Canada and Mexico, each state still has its’ own laws, sound familiar? I think we have made a good leap from where we were with our just 7 sets of laws, to now really two.

But Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) have impacted some more than others and a driver today, when asked the standard intro question, complained about truckers simply stopping on the side of the interstate for their half hour break, which they never had to have till the last rule change and that it was legal to park on freeway ramp shoulders.

There is a booming market here for new trucks with a record number on order this month, over 50,000 with 41,800 and 18,000 trailers ordered last month, but it was said some may be over ordering just to get trucks, as the delay can be up to 6 months. Another radio interview said the whole transport industry here was under stress, lots of freight, a driver turnover rate of over 100% for some fleets, difficulty getting new trucks, the ELDs and a lack of rest areas. But who is there for the drivers?

I have just done an interview for a Truckers Podcast radio show and have been confirmed a stand at the Great American Truckshow, so will be able to put all the TIV banners up etc. Sorting visits now to Cummins, Kenworth and a couple of smaller truckshows, along with a visit to Toronto if all goes to plan. Till next we chat, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

30th July 2018 Seattle and across the USA.

Goodaye all. I am now in Burlington, north of Seattle. I got in Friday and headed straight to the Kenworth plant in Seattle where Bart, who had been at Kenworth in Australia, is now the plant manager here and had agreed to a tour of the plant.

I saw a triple chassis rail off road haulier and a number of tri drives on the production line and a few other bits and pieces and raised a few questions. As you can imagine, I was not allowed to take any photos inside the plant. Due to the fact this plant does a lot of off road trucks, the manuals still reign here at above 80%. There is far more variation in the number and types of Kenworths built here, than in Australia, due to the wide ranging markets, including up into Canada.

After the tour I headed north and spent the night in a Washington State Rest area. It is signed with a section for trucks, one for campers and another for cars. During the afternoon, some cars with trailers and motorhomes stopped in the truck bays for short stays, but during the night some trucks stopped in the campervan bays, one with a cycling frig motor. There is also a dump point for motorhomes here, toilets and shade and tables and chairs.

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These used to be called turnpike doubles when I saw them years ago and may still be now and in some states I am told, they still run with 3 of these trailers, but only 27 feet long each. I did read recently there is a push to have them slightly longer, but so far it is being rejected.

There is a kiosk manned by volunteers, much like our Driver Reviver, but not so structured and they supply free tea and coffee from Friday to Monday, but that is all. The biggest thing I noticed straight away was the lack of rubbish bins anywhere, except in the toilets and they were all overflowing. Not only that, someone had missed the toilet and left their crap in piles on the floor and some had walked in it and we think it bad when our blokes do it where there are no toilets. Maybe he had an accident, but you would think they might at lest try to clean it up. From the smell of the truck parking area particularly, some truckies there can’t walk to the toilet to pee either.

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I was told there are no bins outside as locals dumped their rubbish there, but whilst many truckies arrived with bags for the bin, it seems back to front to have none for them to use and then more people will throw their rubbish on the roadside and that was evident as well. Washington State must have some weird weight laws as this combination is quite common.

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You can see the single wheel lift axle on the prime mover and one at the rear of the trailer. They do steer to an extent, but not through any linkage and many I looked at near had the edge of the lift tyres ripped off, so they do drag. I think this gives them 63,500kg in Canada and 105,500 pounds in the USA according to one with it shown on the truck.

No DG Diamonds on the front of the truck, only the front of the trailer (so how you see it from the front I don’t know) and no signs on any of the b-doubles, though with so many 53 foot trailers, perhaps they still fit in that length. So much still to chase up on and get enough detail to know what it means.

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This was one of only two prime movers I saw with these super wide single tyres. The other driver had them on his trailer as well and commented that he did not like them in the rain on the drive. Finemores have a number of trailers with them on, but I have not seen a truck in Australia with them on the drive. The fellow also said they were $2000 US, each.

I spoke with one driver in Seattle who does mainly local and his issue was with other car drivers, but one I spoke with at the rest area, nominated those using phones and they too it seems, are ramping up the penalties for such use.

Off to bed now as I am touring the PACCAR Technical Centre tomorrow and then hoping to visit Boeing, before heading eastbound and down towards 3M. Safe Travelling to all. Rod Hannifey.

27th July The UK leg nearing completion.

Goodaye all. Yesterday I returned to Taylor’s Transport at 6AM and met with Luke, one of their local lorry drivers. He had been with them for about 4 years and previously worked shorter hours at McDonalds, but had always loved trucks. He spent a total of well over 3,000 pounds to gain his Class 2 (rigid) license, then his Class 1 (Semi/ HGV) license, doing the medical first and also the CPC.

Even though he did gain some knowledge from the CPC, he doubts anyone who has been on the road for more than a couple of years, would gain much from it. In discussing his move up to trucks and his earlier car license, not only was he taught nothing at all about trucks in that car license training, he was told specifically by the trainer, that he was being taught to Pass the test.

I have said that I fear this is what is happening in Australia, that instead of teaching people to survive safely on the road for the next 50 years, we are teaching them just to pass the current test. We do now, after me writing to the state road authorities many years ago, at least have some questions on trucks in the license test, but my aim is still to have a short 10 minute video, filmed from within a working truck, as part of the training and testing of new drivers.

We checked the Scania out, the Mercedes Luke usually drives had a gearbox problem when he came back from holidays and is still in the shop, then headed off a short distance to the trailer yard to pick up our part loaded semi. There is a system called SNAP and you can park at truckstops, or even in other transport company yards for a fee, so there were a few other company trucks and trailers on-site.

Luke hooked up, checked the pin (and the trailer connections are similar but different to ours) then ignored the que for the bowser as Luke said we had heaps for what we had planned, then headed off for our first drop, a delivery to a Tesco DC, one of the big retailers in the UK. Eddie Stobart have the haulage contract for Tesco and there were plenty of their trucks with the TESCO signed trailers as well as full Stobart rigs.

We were early, but Luke is a regular here and we were allowed in and backed onto a door. Even in a tautliner, we backed onto a door and after asking how they were going to unload based on Aussie Chep pallets, I learned that UK ones are open both ways, so can be unloaded through the back doors. The strap from the back of the pallets had to be removed and then with the doors open and trailer backed on the dock, you go into the office with your paperwork and sit till it is empty and you are called.

With only 10 pallets, we were not there long, quicker than most of the DCs I visit, but one driver had some problem and was told he would be at least 45 minutes before he got a dock. I chatted and gave him a card and he was still waiting when we left.

Two separate pick-ups of bricks for a local transfer, both not only tight spots, but with tight access were next. I must say the public do seem both very patient and accepting of delays and wide trucks in narrow streets. They seem to manage to stop and or move over where needed and it has to be done, as you cannot fit past on the narrow roads with cars and trucks parking on the side as well.

After discussing load restraint and how in Europe it is much more stringent than the UK and not having seen any loads from there, I can only take Luke’s word for it, but I guarantee you, what I saw and spoke with fellows about at both loading sites, would not be legal here. Gates are not used and the only thing of note, was the rubber coating on the timber floor, no coaming rail or raised edge, no straps on rails anywhere and curtains deemed to be load restraint, that are just curtains.

In his 4 years on the road, all with Taylors, he has never been stopped for an inspection or got a ticket and there are more cameras and average time cameras about on the M1 than in most of Australia if the signs are true. So many different things, that I will have to consider as to how they vary from what we do, then decide which is better or worse and why. Luke dropped me back at the yard so I could borrow the wi-fi and he could get paperwork copied and I thanked him and offered a small new “TRUCK That Australia Drivers Club” keyring which we have done for members.

I have stayed at a quaint little pub, where the owner Paul was a drinker there and then bought it. He is 74 I think and was very affable. The dinner every night, included with the very reasonable tariff (continental breakfast as well) was bloody beautiful and the meat nearly melted in your mouth. The best feed I have had here.

Succumbing to a cider each evening was my only extravagance and I was kept chatting by some of the locals for hours. On my return for the last night, my new fan said, “They don’t know how famous you are, I checked up on you on the net last night and you are big on there”. He has vowed to follow the blog and keep an eye on me and I thank him for his company and conversation, along with all at the White Swan.

I am at Heathrow and due to fly out to Seattle tomorrow and whilst I have tried to keep up with my diary and am already doing my Churchill report, to write it all down, will take me awhile, so I had better get into that and catch up on the UK part, before I go. It has been very interesting and will give me a lot to think about, but I do think there are some things, particularly for drivers, that I will follow up on and hope to possibly help them here. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

25th July 2018 Visiting the Homeland.

Goodaye all. With a delayed flight out of Sydney and then a long que at Hertz due to it being both summer holidays and a Saturday in England, my arrival at Donnington Park Convoy planned for 10AM local time, became 3PM. Such is life. But I got in and met the organisers, agreed to set my stand up Sunday morning and started interviewing drivers.

I asked drivers (after explaining the Churchill Fellowship and the trip) what is your biggest concern with road safety here and how can you fix it? Whilst there is always a variation of how different people see things, the themes mirror some of our problems, but with some minor and some major differences.

Other drivers, was the first answer of many and it seems not only do lorry drivers here have to do their CPC every 5 years now, which must total 35 hours of training, but it was said by many, that car drivers are taught to pass the test, not to drive for the rest of their lives and it seems, they are taught absolutely nothing about sharing the road with trucks.

A few did say other lorry drivers, with the last I just asked when visiting one of the few secure truckstops, saying the standard of lorry drivers is falling badly. The CPC as a system is not a pass/fail, so what value does it have, asked many I spoke with.

I am currently visiting with Alan Taylor Transport in Huthwaite in Nottingham Shire and will be going out in a truck with one of his drivers tomorrow for a run. I met Alan at the Convoy, where not only did he have a truck in the truck racing, he had about 50 plus trucks on-site, including two that were offering drives for a minimum 5 pound donation to a charity and when I spoke with one of the drivers on Sunday, not only was there a big que, they had raised nearly one thousand pounds on Saturday alone.

I then filmed an interview with a young lady after she got out from her drive in the Volvo and trailer. The entertainment was wide and varied and after filming some of the tuck racing, be a very quiet and demure bloke, I asked where the announcers were and again, after lots of who and why, ended up doing a live interview between races and got many visitors during the rest of the show who commented.

The large banner of the TIV drew many, but the Australian Heavy Vehicle Combinations panel with the roadtrains, got not only much comment, but was photographed by hundreds. Even whilst I was away and talking to other drivers, the fellow in the stand next door who watched over mine, said there was always someone looking or photographing the panel.

So the Convoy show I rate very highly for itself and my me, yes a terrific start to the fellowship trip. I have spoke with many, interviewed more and filmed some more again and will put up a survey here for all to contribute to. I visited the Road Haulage Association in Peterboro and whilst they are mainly a company support group, plan to follow up with them in the future. Whilst there I saw a rigid with a very long trailer as a motorhome and then towing a caravan behind that! Hopefully will have some photos next blog.

So here is the survey and I would welcome you distributing it and or replying.

Driver Survey as part of
Churchill Fellowship Trip 2018 to study trucks and road safety overseas by Rod Hannifey.
It is prohibitive to print, carry and hand out forms overseas to many drivers and have only some filled in and returned and even on the road in Australia and perhaps, not the best way to get information. So this will be online in a number of sites and will aim to allow drivers and others to contribute and comment online towards the aims of the study tour.

Please fill in and comment as you see fit. I am only one fulltime employed driver, but the more who contribute, the more likely we are to see any change. Nothing happens overnight, unfortunately things can take many years to see any change, but nothing will happen without both a start point and the intent to carry it through.
Please use as much space as you need to answer any question and I thank you for your help to try and improve road safety.

Country
Age
Drivng task (EG local, short haul, longhaul)
Average Kilometres travelled per week or year.
Vehicle Type
Cargo carried
Your biggest road safety problem
Your solution to that problem
Your best road safety idea
Rest Area comments. What do you have and what do you need?

Please add any further comments and Thank you for your time and response. Rod.

I will be off in the truck in the morning and Thank Alan Taylor for the trip, the use of his wi-fi now and his help and comments. He too is another video interview seeking comments. I could write for hours, but you will have to keep following and I will try to find access and hope for better in the USA. As always my Thanks to all at Rod Pilon Transport and of course, to the Churchill Fellowship for this opportunity.

Sorry for the delay in getting this out, my phone simply will not work, look out Telstra and I hope it works in the USA. Cheers and Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

20th July 2018. Intrepidation.

Goodaye all. Ready to pack up the laptop and head for the airport in Dubbo. An hour to Sydney and a delay now there, that will mean after my 22 hour flight to Heathrow, will see me late at the Convoy in the Park and straight into it. Considering I only got out of the truck yesterday after 2PM, there is not much I can do, but hook in and hope for the best.

I would like to thank my two references/trip supporters, Mr Paul Retter, NTC CEO and Mr Roger Sack, owner of Tramanco and a supporter of the TIV, since even before its inception. I would also like to thank the NRMA and the ACT Road Safety Trust jointly, for the Churchill Fellowship for Road Safety and will do my best to gain the most (and hopefully spread some Aussie knowledge as well) during this trip.

Thanks also to the Churchill Fellowship Trust, those who did the interviews (the first on the phone sitting half way up Cunningham’s Gap due to a road closure from a truck rollover) and Rod Pilon Transport for the ability to get to the second interview in Sydney and to those who recognised my passion and efforts thus far and with this trip, will help me I hope to do more, to help others be safe on our roads.

The team at Rod Pilon Transport will be looking after the TIV during my absence with a few tidy ups etc and I will be mad keen on my return to get back into it, get the next one up and running and get my protégé into a truck and ready to step into this one, when I can convince someone to give me a truck and trailers, so I can do more than what I can on top of full time driving.

The TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle always had to be a working truck. Whilst it would be nice to have a real flash truck and go to shows, that will never represent what it is like on the road, nor would I get (or deserve) any respect from other drivers who do it for real.

I have had one fellow walk up to me this week whilst having tea and simply shake my hand and say thanks for my efforts for the industry and a caravanner, (whose email will appear in my next Owner driver column) say my Caravan survey had been very helpful and what they had been doing was not helpful to drivers and they did not know, but were trying and my survey had informed them and helped and made their trip safer and more pleasant.

So a big program, a plan to see what else I can fit in during it and a hope to find a truck to bring home! In my dreams. To those of you who would love to sponsor a road safety b-double, please let me know on my return and I will be more than happy to put your name on it if you wish.

I hope to be able to do the blog through wi-fi, they tell me data charges can be crippling and while I will have my phone on for international roaming, I plan not to use it more than necessary.

So to all readers, I bid you adieu for a short while, though I may be back even sooner than normal, subject to where I can find good wi-fi. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

 

14th July 2018. Churchill Fellowship Trip.

From http://www.churchilltrust.com.au

Travel to investigate.
Return to Innovate!
A Churchill Fellowship provides an opportunity for talented Australian Citizens to travel overseas to investigate inspiring practices that will benefit Australian communities.
The high regard globally for a Churchill Fellowship (the Churchill Trust was established in 1965 to honour the memory of Sir Winston Churchill the great world leader) provides a pathway for Fellows to access industry and community leaders from across the world, enabling the exchange of knowledge, technology and experience for the benefit of Australian Society.
It is important to realise that Churchill Fellows themselves are ordinary Australians with extraordinary abilities and aspirations. This could be you!

This is my itinerary thus far. I am still working on a few things and hope to add in more, as time and people either reply or seek meetings.

Leave Australia July 20th fly Dubbo/Sydney then to Heathrow UK.
Arrive 21st July , pick up SUV from airport and travel to Convoy in the Park Donnington 21/22 July staying on site in SUV. ( I have email confirmation that I will be given free entry, parking for the car and a stand at the show.)
Visit Eddie Stobart Transport, Warrington 24th July
Visit Road Haulage Association The Old Forge, South Road, Weybridge, KT13 9DZ
25th July
Spare day 26th July
Return SUV to Heathrow and Fly out from London 27th July direct to Seattle.
Visit Kenworth plant Seattle and Kenworth Technical Center.
Visit 3m Ramsey Minnesota (East Coast)
Visit Iowa 80 truckstop 395 W Iowa 80 Rd, Walcott IA 52773 Iowa just off route 80
4581 Highway 43, Joplin MO 64804 Phone: +1 (417) 627-0004

Visit WAUPUN TRUCK-N-SHOW August 10th – 11th, 2018 Waupun, WI
Visit EAU CLAIRE BIG RIG SHOW August 13th – 15th, 2018 Chippeawa Falls, WI
Visit TRUCKERS HELPING HANDS CHROME & LIGHT SHOW August 17th – 18th, 2018 Henderson, KY
Visit Chrome Shop Mafia Joplin 4581 Highway 43, Joplin MO 64804 Phone: +1 (417) 627-0004
Visit Cummins Indiana, 251 N Illinois St, Indianapolis, IN 46204 south of Indianapolis just off route 65
Visit Canadian Trucking Alliance Toronto
Visit FMCSA Washington DC (far East Coast)
Visit American Trucking Association Arlington Washington.
Visit Pilot/ Flying J truckstops along route
Visit Loves Truckstops along route
Visit Overdrive Magazine Tuscaloosa Alabama route 59

Great American Trucking Show Dallas Texas 23/25th August.
Fly out 26th September. Home 28th.

At this stage, I will be on the road till Thursday noon maybe, clean out truck and home that night, before flying out Friday. I plan to do a blog each day if possible, finding wi-fi to keep data costs down may have some bearing on this, but would welcome your comments, though may likely reply when home.

The TIV and trailers will be having some TLC applied by Rod Pilon Transport during my absence.

I will be asking begging and pleading for help towards the next TIV when I return and will be back on the road in September and working on getting it up and running. The TIV initiative will be ten years old with the trailers being ten in October and I will be doing some press to recognise this then.

Thank you all who read and comment and I hope I provide both some information and interest in this trucking life. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

8th July 2018 This Trucking Life

Goodaye all. I wrote the following in 2010 and did take my two youngest sons to see John Williamson in concert in Dubbo some years later. I spoke with John quickly after the show and gave him a card and suggested he might do another truckie song one day. I am still waiting for him to call.

This Trucking Life and this truckies wife.

Years ago, interstate trucking was over romanticised, you were your own boss and king of the road. It was never that good. You might have got to see a lot of Australia’s roads, but you did it alone and spent a lot of time away from family and this is still the same. You live in a mobile house, office, kitchen and bedroom all rolled into one and that bedroom is often one metre by two or less. At least you don’t have to travel far to go to work.

I’ve been doing interstate in b-doubles, 25 metres long and grossing about 62 tonne for the last 13 years, travelling around two and a half million kilometres in an area from Melbourne to Mackay with three trips to Perth, one to Townsville and one to Darwin, the last pulling triples, three trailers, 53 metres long and over 110 tonne gross weight.

I don’t think people are taught to properly respect the size and weight of these vehicles and certainly believe they are not taught to “share the road” with them. Not all truckies are perfect and often the tales of bad behaviour, or bad press following a crash where the truckie is often purported to be at fault do not help. With statistics showing more than 80% of fatalities between cars and trucks are
the car driver’s fault, some education of car drivers about sharing the road with these larger vehicles, that can now be said carry Australia on their back, could go a long way to making our roads safer for all, motorists and truckies alike.

Imagine being a truckies wife with your husband often away and possibly far away, not the same as him coming home each night, let alone to be able to come home on short notice in an emergency, real or imagined. This can be a lonely life for them as well, hoping their partner is safe on the road and with them looking after the family damn near all on their own. Even truckies who ring home regularly find it hard to have a normal marriage or relationship and too often when the truckie does get to visit home, he is dead tired and needs to recover to be ready to go and do it all again, to be able to pay the bills and feed the family he so rarely has time with.

Every second truckie I talk to has lost one or more families or partners, because of the pressures of the job and the lifestyle. You are entrusted with a truck and trailer combination worth three quarters of a million dollars or more and could have a load on worth as much or more again and then travel from one end of this
large country to the other with our less than perfect roads, insufficient and under developed rest areas with little or no shade, few toilets and motorists who
risk their lives and ours, because they cannot wait five minutes to overtake where it is safe and they can actually see enough roadspace. And yet we’re deemed by much of society and other car drivers, as out there with nothing better to do than try and have crashes with cars.

John Williamson’s song, “The Truckies Wife” has a couple of lines in it that ring all too true. He sings the truckie is often “like an uncle who comes home with ice creams and toys” rather than a father, and he asks “is there anything more for a truckies wife?”

My wife has put up with my lifestyle doing interstate for thirteen years, sometimes with me going to work saying I should be home tomorrow and then later getting a phone call to say I won’t be home for a week or more, I’m going to Perth, or each consecutive call saying I’m going to Sydney or Melbourne, or somewhere other than home. My children often ask will you be home next Thursday for a school event or birthday and all I can say is “You know better than to ask where I will be tomorrow, let alone in three or four days” and it kicks you every time you miss
one of those events. Rarely, you are there when other Dads are at work and you can be a lone Dad at a school item, but it isn’t the same.

I’m not proud that my wife does not really want me in “her” bed, the irregular early morning starts and or finishes mean you often disrupt the families sleep, let alone that when I come home I am “trying to change all her schedules and how she looks after the kids” if I try to help or get involved and if I don’t help, I am not doing my part with the children. Saying I’ll be home for school or something else and then being redirected, you break down, or are delayed for a myriad other reasons and then come home two days later, sees me being told don’t ring to say you are coming until you are here and then I’ll believe you.

No job is perfect, though my wife thinks I have a good time chatting on the UHF radio and going to different places. The reality is of course that I have to comply with laws made by people who mostly sleep in their own bed and who fly or have someone drive them about and mostly on the good roads. Airline pilots deserve all the credit and pay they get, but the conditions and perks are much better. A co-pilot, stewies to make you coffee, perfect runways and those you share the sky with trained and watched. We share the road with many who drive, and less
who are drivers. My wife and family are special and so are yours, please drive safely, respect the size and weight of large trucks and give us a wave occasionally, truckies are human too. Rod Hannifey, an Aussie Truckie. http://www.truckright.com.au

Much has changed for the better, some things have changed for the worse. I wish I could do more to make the roads safer and this a better job, but you can only do so much as an individual. I would welcome your comments. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey