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.

5th April 2020 Food and behaviour.

Goodaye all. Another big week on the road, less traffic so very quiet and lonely at times, a welcome return to being able to eat in a roadhouse, subject of course to guidelines etc, though some roadhouses still to be aware. My favourite café in Temora, who of course could not let me eat there under the current rules (and I did ring ahead as normal), made my meal and even brought it out to me to eat in the truck. Still not as good as sitting down to a meal, but one stop gap measure when you have no other alternative.

Some places still refusing us use of a toilet, this must cease, we are not dogs and should not be treated like one. Would these places prefer we just pee in their yard or just squat in their driveway? We are told we must drink more and not let our throats dry out, we were being forced to eat just take-away and that can have effects other than just bad health overtime, yet we are being denied use of toilets.

If we act sensibly and people either have someone cleaning properly, or provide sanitary wipes or products for each user, then most will use them and act accordingly. If neither is done, then we will still have the problem of nothing available for others and or extending the life of the outbreak.

I did participate in the Truckies Hour program in the “Conversations” slot at 11AM on ABC Melbourne on Friday. It was good to have them recognise truckies, seek comment and along with Geoff Crouch from the ATA, the callers each raised valid points and I think we got a good story out. I then got a call from a driver I had met years earlier, who said he had been listening and who then thanked me for my efforts and said he agreed with all I had said.

The ABC also gave me some exposure from another story, done as a phone interview, which covers some of the same issues and ends with a call for more rest areas and facilities in the future.

On the other side of this, was the terrible behaviour of a couple of drivers who went berko when told they could not sit down for a meal. One roadhouse I spoke with, said they could not act till their management passed down the instruction and this is fair, considering the exemption was only announced the night before. Yes we are all a bit tense and frustrated, but taking it out on those who normally serve us well, when they too have bosses and regulations to comply with, will only see things get worse.

I stopped at the BP at Goondiwindi and they have a sign up saying they have employed a cleaner, you go in the shower, come out and give the key to the cleaner and they clean it for the next bloke. I asked the fellow at the console, had anyone said thank you and he said, no, I was the first and I didn’t even have a shower then.

In the piece on ABC Melbourne, both I and others did say we often feel unrecognised, but we have to be thankful to those who help us. It will not cost you more than a few seconds, no money and no pain, to say thank you when someone else helps and or provides good service and as you must all agree, that will normally be welcomed and then see that person likely to help you again in the future.

Perhaps we too have become complacent, but I fail to see why we cannot be human, respectful and polite. If you are treated badly, you will behave badly, or you can break the chain of bad behaviour, by being friendly, thankful of good service and being above the idiots. We can either be the professionals, the knights of the road, or we can be the idiots that all too often we are tarnished with being. I try, even as per my efforts here, will you try too, please?

I want to congratulate the ATA for “TRUCKSAFE” winning both the Corporate Fleet Safety and the founders award as overall winner in the 9th Annual Australian Road Safety Awards. It is industry owned and operated, I do think it has helped change some of the culture and whilst nothing is perfect, it is up to those involved and participating to do it right. Even if you only look at the need for driver medicals, that alone has possibly saved lives and improved the health of drivers, knowing too few of us will go to a doctor unless we are dying. The other parts of TRUCKSAFE and you can’t cherry pick and only do some bits and not others, all go some way to providing a good base system if you don’t have one of your own and can help you lift the bar and hopefully industry standards generally.

Another issue has been those who travel in their caravans with no home, doing the fruit picking and living the life on the road, may now have nowhere to go for the duration of this virus. It was highlighted late Friday on another ABC Melbourne program when a fellow rang in, saying he could not get an answer from anyone as to what he should do. The announcer Raph, did say he would try and get an answer and some rang in offering the fellow somewhere to stay. But there are many more and I have still seen many vans on the road, some perhaps still heading home if they have one. All I ask if they continue to roam, is to make sure they think of us if they have to stop in a rest area.

We have a long way to go to get through this, it will not be over in a month and some effects will last for years. Those involved in trucking, I know you will mostly do your best. Those on the outside, have you thought more of the truckies still working or has it not reached your thoughts yet? Please let me know what you think either way. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

29th March 2020 A viral time.

Goodaye all. Life on the road was never as good as it has been portrayed. Now whilst many truckies are still working to keep the wheels of industry turning, we have been thrown out the door with some issues. I recognise the issues with the virus and social distancing, but the closure of showers and every roadhouse eating area, must be seen to have been short sighted for those of us who live on the road. It is an issue with keeping showers clean, but not impossible, though again, we have to do our part. Some sites have made an effort and we have to recognise that and tell them, it won’t hurt you to say thanks, will it? And then we may well get better outcomes.

I did stop for a shower at one place during the week and will NEVER go there again. It is a company branded site and the showers were a disgrace, looking like they haven’t been cleaned in weeks with mould growing in the corners. I will be contacting the parent company after finishing this.

We need to be able to get out of the truck to sit down and eat. We need good healthy food and not only will eating take-away for weeks on end not help, we simply don’t have access to supermarkets in a b-double. I can only park with-in co-ee of two places on the Newell Highway from Melbourne to Brisbane. Many blokes are self-sufficient, some do their own cooking, but not all have the time,or the capacity within their truck to do so. I carry milk and cereals, some tinned meals etc, but we all need to be able to sit down and eat, let alone have a break out of the truck.

I believe the union, Glen Sterle and others, including members of the National Road Freighters Assoc, have been pushing for change and my understanding, having just spent an hour on the phone for the monthly NRFA board meeting hook-up, there should be an announcement allowing us a place to eat, due this week. We all recognise many have lost their jobs, there are bigger issues than just us, all we are asking is for some recognition of needs of living on the road.

I do hope with the less traffic on the road, there will be less crashes and perhaps, if we all then just thought a bit and rushed a bit less, we may even save some lives.

I have to do a few other things now before leaving for Melbourne, one of which is to contact the fuel chain responsible for that roadhouse and I will let you know what response I get. Please be safe, please do what you can to help others and I will do my best to help my fellow road travellers. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

22nd March 2020 Monash Driving Health.

Goodaye all. I drove out to Warren late Sunday, unloaded there early, back into Dubbo for some tyres then off to load at Manildra, (had a discussion about load restraint curtains and why we have them) nearly making it into Melbourne. Seven hour break, then a drop out to the new WW DC at Lyndhurst (and the truck GPS said it did not exist so have passed this on to them along with a short list of other indiscretions), back into Melbourne to deliver the balance of the load, drop trailers and drop truck off for a new steering box. Had a leak at the bottom seal, so had to be fixed and seemed to be affecting steer tyre wear.

Plan to have it back by lunchtime the next day, so having seen a Facebook comment on the “Driving Health” study being done by Monash University, sent an email and then arranged an interview for the next morning. A three part study, looking initially at insurance claims to confirm what we all know, truck driving can be hazardous to your health, pity we could not educate others and reduce this substantially. Off my soapbox now. Then interviewing drivers, family and employers to get the detail and background to how the job affects us, then lastly, looking to:
“Our objective is to develop interventions that, upon completion of the study, can be implemented by employers, regulators, drivers and others in the sector.”

So did my hour plus interview, was told I had raised some things not yet raised by others and hope to see some value down the track to help us all. I did give it a plug on “Nightshift” and am doing the same here. You can go to med-IWHGroup@monash.edu or (03) 9903 0444. Driving Health Study.

We all know truckies don’t get to the doctor and how hard it is to get anywhere near them in a truck when working, let alone a chemist or any other real help, so I would encourage any of you who either, have had a problem that was difficult to solve because o the job, or who know of others who have suffered, but may be able to offer an insight. It is hard on our families, we are never there, it can lead to isolation and in some depression and who do you turn to?

If you have a really good mate, they might be able to help and since we lost TRANSHELP, where or who to you go to now, to talk to someone with any industry understanding? There is Lifeline and Beyond Blue and they help many, but perhaps the fact that unless those we talk to have some job empathy, can they help as much as needed. We are getting into deep territory here and I am no expert, but I know of drivers who have had others commit suicide into their trucks, who have come on or been involved with a road crash where someone died and none of us go to work to be involved, directly or otherwise, but once there, you can’t just walk away and forget about it.

Have you needed help and got it from your local doctor, your boss or a friend? But if not, have you suffered in silence to the point it has affected your life and or that of your family. It is something rarely discussed and this study and your contribution may help another driver in the long term, more than you will ever know. Please give it some thought and participate if you can.

Back to trucks. Got the truck back later than planned, so late for the wheel alignment, but delivered truck and trailers and got them back after lunch the next day. Drives were both out, cambered the steer and will see how that goes. Off back to Melbourne this afternoon with a load of wool for a change and loading out some chemical and highly secret stuff made of paper and in high demand at the moment. Don’t want to get hijacked, so Mums’ the word. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

15th March 2020. Mr Positive.

Goodaye all. I hope many of you saw the link/video “Mr Positive” that I shared on Facebook and Twitter. You can find it at http://www.truckingnation.com.au Chris Harmer is Mr Positive and he was interviewed by Stephen and the intro was done by Sarah, both from Whiteline Television. I have known Chris for many years, back when he and I lived in Brisbane and worked for Finemores.

I worked in the container park for 13 years after starting as a courier driver, then moved into tankers, moving to Goondiwindi to carry Ampol fuel from Brisbane to Dubbo. Chris was in car carriers, then moved into the office and then on the road for tankers. I have an old photo of the two of us at Avenal Roadhouse in two Finemores Volvos, both coming out of Melbourne.

We passed on the road and sort of kept in touch as I moved to Dubbo and then Chris left Finemores and started working for local companies in Wagga Wagga and we would chat on the phone at night when he was on the road. Chris is a very well liked and popular driver with those he knows, sometimes you have to que up to talk to him on the phone.

I think our longest conversation on the phone was well over three hours, each discussing our problems and listening to the other with his. Chris was a fan and supporter of my efforts and often told me not to give up if I had a bad week or could not achieve what I wanted to. When you have a friend that you can discuss your dreams and your problems with, it can help lessen the burden, provide another view and simply, make the night and the drive, much shorter.

Depending on where he was going and when, we might speak three times one week and then not for the next. Very occasionally, we would pass on the road, a couple of times we met up in Melbourne, but mostly we talked on the phone at night when on the road.

I am missing his voice and contact, as his license was revoked after what they initially thought was a stroke, but was then diagnosed as serious brain cancer, after two operations to remove tumours, he was told he may only have 12 to 18 months to live. Chris lives for his family, wife and children, though two of his kids have a serious affliction which means they will require life long care.

He loves trucks and whilst it has helped him look after his family, it has not always gone easily. As with all jobs, but more with interstate truck driving, you are on the road and you’re often a long way from the family at home. This has made it hard on his wife, particularly with the children, but Chris has said often, that Burkinshaws were the best employer and the owner has not only helped when needed, he has really tried to do his best to help Chris when family situations needed him home.

I am hoping to attend the benefit day, Chris has invited me and I hope you might watch the video, consider giving something to the go fund me page which Melanie Burkinshaw set up, as without a truck license, Chris and his family now have no fulltime job and he is facing a short time left to live.

Chris says some have defeated his condition, he has done chemo and is still positive as per the video and I truly hope he can beat this, but if he can’t, he and his family will need some help. None of us know when our time is up, life is but a game and we can only play till it is over and do the best we can. I wish I could do more myself, but if I can get someone who is in a better position to help, then I will have done something small to help Chris and his family. Share the video, help if you can and recognise that Chris did like anyone else would, feel angry at first, but I applaud his acceptance, recognise his belief in his God and church and wish him all the best. I thank him for all his time, his listening and support and keeping me keen and enthused.

Chris I hope you beat this, but either way, am glad I have had you as a friend. Good friends are hard to find and friends like Chris are rare indeed. All the best mate. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

8th March 2020

Goodaye all. A short week-end last week and a big week on the road this week. A spot on ABC Overnights Wednesday morning with Trevor Chappell about road rules went well with many callers and I have suggested a spot on rest areas for the future.

Calls back from TMR and RMS re the alignment of roadside signs that blind us with our own lights because they are incorrectly placed. Both will be doing some fixing, thanks, but many others wrongly aligned and need to be fixed.

A call back from Vicroads on two issues and I have just emailed a detailed outline of the issues and hope to get a reply soon.

I did contact both TMR and RMS re green reflector marking of informal bays, nothing from TMR yet and RMS have issued new guidelines which speak of a state wide rollout. This would be a major improvement and would immediately help fill some gaps for us. We still need many more rest areas and spaces, but this could be a good step forward.

Comments from drivers, others ringing with issues and seeking help still coming from “Nightshift” listeners is all good and emails from others who read my column in Owner Driver keep me busy. I can’t always help, but will do my best to do so where and when I can.
How do we get other drivers involved? Only one call to anyone might get a response, but 5 callers will do more and 20 will see action, more often than not. Yet many drivers want things fixed, changed or improved, but won’t make one call or send one email. Our HVNL review, the Senate Inquiry and all the previous industry calls for contributions and comment, went largely unnoticed with few responses. So, when those asking see that, it is more likely they will then simply say, no one cares, we will just do whatever we think best. Unfortunately, more often than not, it is their view that gets used to change things, we get shafted and then everyone complains about the change or lack thereof.

I would like to think the associations were there more for the drivers, yes I could say without drivers, there would be no transport business, but in many ways that applies to each of the myriad other roles, that come together in transport. We just happen to be the most at risk, responsible for all on the road, accountable to everyone else and yet, still mostly unrepresented in most industry forums and groups. We tried the drivers club and many had said they would join, some did, but that was all they did and it of course failed. I will keep trying, but it is hard and lonely doing it mostly on your own. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

29th February 2020 Happy Leap Year.

Goodaye all, I will have to speak with Hermione and get hold of her time spinner so I can either catch up, or have more time. We finished filming Monday, home Tuesday, back to work Wednesday after staying up for Nightshift. Home Saturday morning, try to sort and catch up with some things, not enough hours in Sunday, load and back on the road.

Chasing a few truck issues, still working on them, was asked to speak at a Churchill Information evening Wednesday evening, back in to load Thursday and just home today. A special week-end with all my children home for a visit. This will be short as tea is coming. Tomorrow a special day, but back on the road in the afternoon.

Very sad to hear of the driver attacked at Boggabilla, what is the world coming to? So many affects and impacts affecting us all, so many big things, but we can’t simply fix it all or give up on the little things as well.

Our local mayor was at the Churchill evening and I spoke with him about a toilet block for drivers in Dubbo and he said to chase him up, so that is the next on the list. Family first, so I will catch up next week, but hope to have a submission in for some road safety projects, need that spinner again. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

15th February 2020 @ Glendambo

Goodaye all, just arrived in Glendambo, South Australia, home of 225,000 sheep 2,000,000 plus flies and 30 people (now 35) according to the sticker you can buy in the Caltex servo. We will be on the road early tomorrow morning to catch up with a triple roadtrain on the way to Darwin to do more of our next road safety video, Caravans and Roadtrains.

This was the only week-end available to all and required a Saturday shoot, to not delay the truck anymore than necessary or than they could afford, to still have the express into Darwin Monday.

But it means I will miss the National Road Freighters Assoc (NRFA) Conference and AGM held in Dubbo this Saturday. I did some of the set-up work getting quotes for venues, arranging speakers, doing some media etc and have spoken with a number of local businesses seeking some items for the auction and thanks to both Inland Truck Centre the local Kenworth dealer and Trackserv the local Isuzu truck dealer, for contributing.

I have been involved and on the board of NRFA for many years now and whilst I would like to do more, there is simply not much time left spare with my other efforts. But they have helped support me with a logo on the TIV trailer curtains, certainly given me a voice with other like minded drivers and I hope I have, as one of the few company drivers amongst mostly passionate owner drivers, provided another view and or perspective to some of the issues.
The NHVR will have people attending and pollies have been invited and with members discussing and looking for answers to some of the industry’s problems, I had hoped to contribute with it being in my home town. But we can only do what we can.

We stopped on the way out north from Adelaide at a couple of rest areas (plenty of informal sites could do with green reflectors to help drivers find safe spots in the dark) and it was interesting that a number of large and open sites, one of nearly half an acre with open entry/exit and parking for 40 trucks, were marked no trucks. I will be following this up on my return next week. I doubt it would ever be policed, it is not as if they were all chock a block full, but if you don’t run the road regularly and are tired looking for somewhere to stop and follow the signs, it could be a long way between truck stops.

With the usual help from all at Rod Pilon Transport, Katie in Melbourne, John in Dubbo and Nick in Brisbane, I managed to get four legs in, deliver a load they wanted done and rush home in time for a shower and to pack and then catch the plane to Adelaide yesterday. I do thank them individually when they help me achieve one of my efforts to get something done on top of my usual work and I have thanked Rod Pilon Transport (RPT) which of course starts with Rod himself, his son Ben and all the others who do give me enormous scope and time and understanding, to do these extra activities.

I have said there are few companies that would let a driver design the trailer curtains, about to be for the third time when I get the next set done (and RPT are now getting my old original TIV curtains on another set of trailers) let alone give me the flexibility they do, to try and achieve other efforts. Yes much of it is in my time above work, but some is done within, where and when it does not adversely affect RPT. Thank you to each and every one of you at RPT who have helped me in any way to do that bit more.

Back at Glendambo, a good days filming drone footage of a triple overtaking another triple and the noticeable difference in attitude of many drivers on far more populated highways. No drama, no snarkiness, just help one another to get the job done. Thanks to ABC Transport, their driver Kelvin, our intrepid caravanners, Keith and Rachael, friends of Stephen and Sarah from Whiteline TV, our drone pilot, Jess the producer and I did my bit, only fluffing a few lines. Off to bed now, more filming in the morning, then back to Adelaide, more filming Monday then back to work maybe Wednesday. Safe Travelling to all, Rod Hannifey.

27th January 2020 Happy belated Australia Day to all.

Goodaye all, it has been an interesting week. Happy belated Australia Day to all. I hope you did something truly Aussie. I must say I enjoyed the new extended version of “We are Australian” from the Melbourne benefit concert, it nearly brought a tear to my eye. Well done to Bruce Woodley and all who took part.

Completed one trip Dubbo to Melbourne, flour down and chemical back. Back in Dubbo Wednesday, replaced a couple of Air Tabs on one trailer curtain, wrote a list of mostly minor repairs to be done along with a major “C” service for the prime mover, due every 100,000 kilometres, so twice a year.

Intercooler out for cleaning, check all oils, do bearings and other items on the list, all on top of a normal oil change and service, along with doing services on both trailers as well, while the truck is being done. So little things like a light torn off by a roo a week ago, another out that we had to order a replacement for, but not safety critical, included to be done at the same time.

With such a job, well over a days full work for two blokes and subject to what they find and may then include other things, good time to go off filming.
Thursday I did manage to get to the dentist for a little filling, sent a heap of emails for those supporting (or at least those I am asking to) the next TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle, before flying out early Friday morning. My flight was on time out of Dubbo, but the next was a late plane into and then out of Sydney and that led to an on tarmac quick hop into the next one in Alice Springs. That turned out not to work so well, as my luggage and the tripod for the film camera didn’t make the transition. We got to Uluru and I had nothing but my camera bag.

We asked and followed up the lost luggage, but with no real clothes shopping available there, I had to wait and whilst we did film off the shoulder Friday, if you ever have to carry a true film camera, you will know they are not light nor easy to carry, let alone hold for an hour or so filming etc. After arrival at the resort, we went out to the Rangers Station and did an interview to confirm filming, what we could and couldn’t do, as any commercial filming must be approved and permits issued before you even go there.

Stephen stepped up and filmed off the shoulder Friday afternoon, we waited for the right light and got some good footage. I went out very early to watch the sunrise Saturday, as many others did and I do recommend you do if you ever get to visit the rock, too good an opportunity to miss whilst there, as I don’t think I will be there again at this stage, then back for a bit more sleep. Out to the airport to our late lost luggage, get some clothes and a tripod and now we were fully kitted. Then we headed off, again meeting with the ranger to confirm filming angles and specific issues to avoid, got set up and filmed and moved to different sites, again finishing after sunset Saturday.

A big well done to all the small but passionate Whiteline Television team, Stephen and his wife Sarah, producer Jessica and my on camera partner, Amelia.

We were well received and often helped by many of the true tourists, giving us some quiet when we needed it, some space and even turning off their cars, so we could film and it was warm and the flies were very friendly, so thanks to any we inconvenienced, even if only for a little while.

Some of course asked what filming here had to do with roadtrains, but of course those who spend their time on the road holidaying and seeing this marvellous country we live in, are those we are hoping to help be safer on the road and they will be at and visit, such places. But to get there, they will be on the road, sharing it with us as we deliver the goods. Even the tourist brochure for the resort, mentions the roadtrains that deliver all the goods, food, fuel and equipment for those who stay there.

Now Qantas had been apologetic about the luggage when we found it missing, (you would think they would count the number to transfer, but maybe there was another issue) and we did get it the next day, it just meant no clean undies etc, till then. It could have been worse, without the camera we would have been there for nothing!

But then they cancelled the flight Sunday and that threw a whole new heap of angst into the mix. Others beyond ourselves, had commitments and connecting flights and whilst we were never told early of a problem, I must say the young lady from Qantas in Uluru took it all in her stride. A couple of people were getting stroppy as you might expect, but she asked us all to give her some time as she played musical flights and needs and she took each in turn and sorted it out. Someone said they would not have wanted her job for quids, but she got it all sorted and I wish I had her name to give her a well done.

Some were moved onto direct early Jetstar flights, but I and a few others, due to the much later departure of the Jetstar flights, simply would not make the connecting flights all ready booked to get home, so were put up in Sydney for the night. I would have rather been home and when I spoke with my son telling him of the delay and not to pick me up, he said it was pretty lame. I remarked, I would rather them cancel the flight if they thought they had a problem, than have it fall out of the sky later.

It is all about how you look at it. My son had given me a book when I said, I need something to read while waiting at the airport in Sydney and that book was “The Alchemist” 25th Anniversary edition. I had never read it and finished it on the plane to Alice Springs, but it certainly has a message. It says it is the book translated into more languages than any other and I enjoyed it. Back to work tomorrow if the service etc is all finished. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

19 January 2020 Goodaye again.

Goodaye all, did you miss me? Big couple of weeks and ended up in Mackay yet again late last Saturday night, for a Monday morning delivery. Had to get there before midnight to get my 24 hour break in for the week. Must say I had a terrific feed at the BP at Clermont, nearly couldn’t finish my fourth rissole and perhaps then didn’t need the bread and butter. The salad was good, including potato salad as well, good value for the size and went down well.

Back into the “Nighshift” show each Wednesday at 1AM, they had two weeks off over Christmas and even got back up after getting into Brisbane Tuesday night early from Rockhampton. Had a wheel seal fail, could smell the diff oil when I pulled up in Mackay and had to get it fixed at Brown and Hurley Rocky, job well done and they replaced the bearings as well. While I was there was asked if I was looking at a new truck and told them I was, but speaking with Kenworth and hoping they would support the next TIV. I was asked what the “Airtabs” do and was told the curtains stood out and looked good.

Visited young George at Glenmore Homestead in Rocky, a bit tight through the gate, but had tea and a beer with him along with doing a phone hook-up for our National Road Freighters Association meeting. Thanks for the hospitality George and Tony the next morning. Now have somewhere to park if needed. We will be having the next conference in Dubbo at the Macquarie Inn on the 15th February. I am seeking people to supply items for the auction on the night, will be doing some media and have to email and get approval from the council to park outside for the event.

Down to Moree for a delivery, on the radio, then to bed unloading in the morning and then to Dubbo for a load that took a bit of sorting. 37 pallets, but many overwidth made for a challenge, but got done and ringing with sweat, back to Brisbane. The next day after a pick-up, the wheel seal on the other side went out in sympathy, just starting to weep, but again picked up by the smell. It has cost me a chance to go straight through to Melbourne today as must be fixed before leaving Dubbo Monday.

Loading for Melbourne tomorrow and hope to be back in Dubbo for Wednesday, sort out some local stuff, then fly to Alice Springs Friday morning for filming for our next safety video, Caravans and Roadtrains. Truck and trailers will go in for C service and some minor repairs while I am away.

I will be entering the Truckies Top Ten Tips (for sharing the road with trucks) along with the Green Reflector Marking of Informal Truck Bays into the National Road Safety awards this week. If nothing else, I just hope it helps each get some further promotion and recognition towards improving road safety for all.

Both have been now over 20 year projects and while I must say, I wish they were wider used and spread, each has made a mark and is recognised by some. I will keep on trying to have each a national program. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

5th Jan 2020 Have a Truckin’ Good 2020

Goodaye and a Happy New Year to you all. I have had a few days off, but done a trip to Melbourne each week, going down Boxing day and then again on New Years Day. So still doing my part to keep the wheels of industry turning. No real dramas on the road, mostly quieter than normal traffic, till on my way home this morning, with one imbecile deciding to overtake on a blind corner with a car coming the other way, which then went off the edge, lucky there was a wide enough bitumen one, or it could have been much worse.

It is one thing to go to overtake when you can see in a truck and run out of room because the fellow you have followed for some time, then speeds up, either because they are an idiot or simply because they do not want you to get in front. If that’s the case, then if you do the limit, only those who are speeding will want to pass you and why if someone waits till it is safe to overtake, would you be so ignorant to then speed up?

I had caught up to a caravan with two cars behind. The cars had ample opportunity to pass the van, but did not, so I had a go, did one car at a time with plenty of room, as I was right up on my weight and the next upcoming overtaking lane was uphill, so buckley’s chance to get past there, another little issue. To the credit of the van driver, though I could not even see his mirrors from behind him (technically illegal) he did pull over in the next town, indicated and gave me good notice what he was doing (seemingly had no UHF radio, I called on both 18 and 40) so I overtook and the now little train of cars behind did too. The vanner had sped up when I started on the second car and foiled me there, but did help further on.

The other issue only half an hour before, was a van. Yes, a little truck, but not a truckie, at least I don’t think so, as no truckie would do what he did. Again with him travelling about 85 to 90 in a reasonably new vehicle so well capable of doing the speedlimit, we were approaching an uphill overtaking lane.
I had stayed back a bit to get a run up, was on him at the start of the extra lane, got nearly past him before I started to lose speed, uphill at 67 tonne will do that, and he just sat there beside my back trailer all the way to the end of the overtaking lane and had to push in behind me. Now again, if you want to travel below the speedlimit, within reason, that is your right, but like anything, we would all then expect some recognition of the fact, that others might like to get somewhere.

If he wants to go slow, then why not let the other vehicles safely past as well in an overtaking lane. Why be a prick and sit beside the truck (and once past I never saw him again, so it was not me holding up the rest of the traffic) instead of letting them pass you in the safest place available, an overtaking lane. Is it just an “I’m alright stuff you attitude”?

It has been a terrible Christmas with fires and for those who have lost family on the road. What is your solution to the road safety problem? We could of course ban all cars off the road, we could all do 60 kph everywhere, but then all our food and exports would cost more and we would have truckies falling asleep everywhere, because we simply don’t have enough rest areas now, imagine how many we would need then? What do you suggest? All the best for a TRUCKING Good 2020. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.