18th February 2018 Where to?

Goodaye all. I would ask how many of you saw the 7.30 report on the ABC two weeks ago 5/2/2018. I did not learn it was going to air till that Monday afternoon and so could not give any notice. I would like to thank the ABC, Julia and the crew who came along for the ride. We started at 10AM in Dubbo (and we filmed and interviewed Julia for TRUCK That as well) and finished at 2.30AM in Wellcamp near Toowoomba with a few stops along the way.

They said I was very patient and thanked me for my time, but that is why I suggested a Sunday start. I wanted the chance to put our view forward and doing it with the logbook dictating times, would either see me rushing them or not getting where I wanted to and that would have caused more dramas than needed and may not have got the right message out. I have just finally watched the show, having had many comments but a busy couple of weeks and all have said my bit was good and I raised some of the issues.

As you will imagine, much more was filmed and they decide what goes to air and certainly needed a wider perspective, than just a drivers. However, we still need more input and information to get to the public about what we do and how we do it. I still feel we are being punished by the actions of the few truckies who do the wrong thing (and we are human, we do make mistakes too) and was taken to task by a Police Officer for not supporting operation “Rolling Thunder”. I have responded asking for the full details of the infringements and defects and is it just me, or do any of you agree they are pushing all the negative against us and nothing of the positive?

At the NRFA AGM it was offered that yes, there were truck drivers found using drugs and none of us condone that, but the percentage was far less than rampant in the general community with one figure of 26% of car drivers in one RBT operation alone, showing we are not all drug addicts. Again when you look at who is at fault in car/truck fatal crashes, what are we doing to educate car drivers? I have been asking for this to change for years and had we had some education when you get your license, we could have saved many lives, including those of truckies. But it seems all stick and no carrot to me.

I had a phone call one night during the week. “Are you listening to the ABC? Get on there and sort this out. They are talking rubbish and don’t have a clue.” I went over to listen as I pulled into the BP at Goondiwindi and tried to ring in a few times. The lines were full, not surprisingly with the content of the first call I got and I only managed to get through as it ended and did leave an offer of a trip with me.

The guests were Tony Sheldon from the TWU and Geoff Crouch the ATA Chairman. Driving hours and logbooks brought them undone and I am told the UHF ran hot for a long time after, as people discussed the issues and comments. Further discussions the following day from most said they did not do us any favours. I heard the ABC presenter ask a number of times, “So when do you sleep” and if nothing else, it shows he had concerns on what he was told by those who should know, but it seems didn’t or couldn’t get the message across the line.

As they took calls, many of those who phoned in went some way to diffuse the situation and make good and relevant comments, but if you are going to have “experts” on the panel, then they need to know the rules and laws of those they purport to represent and to then help us to be seen to be trying to do the right thing. You cannot let us be maligned yet again, when you are there to put our view forward, or you are simply not doing the job properly.

How do we get a fair go? How do we get heard for the issues we face and have a chance to improve things on the road? We will start the TRUCK That (Australia) Drivers Club in the next two weeks. It is not as simple as I had hoped and we need to get some things in place, so don’t give up on us yet. It alone will not solve our problems, but I do hope it will provide a place for those drivers who want to do something, to see things improve. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.
 

12th February 2018. TRUCK That Drivers Club

Goodaye all. Well “Operation Rolling Thunder” went a long way to solving the industries problems did it? It educated all the car drivers and got the rest area problem fixed too I am sure. What’s that, you disagree! You mean you don’t think it helped. Yes, they got 2000 defects and fines, but won’t release what they were. Why do you think that is?
There is a lot of truck driver frustration with the way we are being portrayed and maligned and many are talking of blockades. Will that work or solve our problems? From what I have seen or heard, few can agree on the problems and even fewer can agree on the solutions. Blocking the roads will only aggravate the public, too many of whom from the way we are portrayed in the media, are not likely to back us at the moment. If we all stayed home and had someone to put our problems and the suitable solutions forward, we might get heard, but the way things are now, that seems unlikely.
Yesterday I attended the National Road Freighters Association 10th AGM in Toowoomba. Senator Pauline Hanson was amongst four members of Parliament who attended. John Gilbert and Andreaus Drahaim attended from the NHVR and all gave a short presentation and then took part in an open forum with good audience questions and participation.
I spoke at the end offering my solution. I will start a drivers club as many drivers have been reluctant to join an association or union for whatever reason. I have said previously that you cannot affect change on your own, unless with years of effort and associations can only achieve improvements with sufficient numbers behind and participating with them. I want something simple and easy that may well suit those who are passionate and keen to see things change, but are not sure where to do something that will help, but who also do not want to pay large fees for little return or who won’t commit to meetings and events.
The “TRUCK That Drivers Club” will have four requirements.
1. Drivers will be asked to comply with the “TRUCKIES on Road Code” as included below (though if we get sufficient numbers, I will be happy to put this up for review and improvement). We will ask what route you regularly travel and what sector you operate in (tankers, general or stock etc), so we can set up a database and when an issue arises, we will ask for your comments.
2. We will ask drivers to ring road authorities when they see or encounter road hazards or irregularities so, that more than one driver is reporting such road failures and we can get them fixed faster to keep the roads safer for all.
3. We will ask for members to contribute submissions to government inquiries, but will help with outlines and details so we can be heard as drivers who are on the road.
4. We will ask that should you hear negative and or inaccurate comments on our industry on radio or in the press, that you respond and or notify us, so we can respond with a balanced reply. We cannot monitor all media, but with such a network, we could respond better and quicker than we do now.
Members will be asked for $50 per year to join, so less than one dollar a week and we will not promise discounts or deals, just give those who are passionate and want to do just that little bit to see the industry improve, a place to help do that. It will be set up on Facebook and have a members’ only section, as one of the issues of open groups, is those who may not even be drivers, can get on and destroy any good intent.

I will then put forward a list of four problems and solutions.
1. We will guarantee that in 6 weeks we will provide broadcast quality videos of the Truckies Top Ten Tips and so in 8 weeks, that will be available to include in young driver learner education across Australia. That will make a start on improving driver education about sharing the road with trucks and will be available for television adds and campaigns.
2. We will ask that the Green Reflector Marking of Informal Truck Bays be rolled out across the national highway network as an interim measure and that in marking such suitable sites, an audit be done highlighting areas needing more rest areas and these then be funded and begun the following year.
3. We will ask the NHVR to allow split rest, but only a maximum of twice a week and not on consecutive nights to assist us in managing our fatigue. If you pull up and sleep to manage your fatigue, but then are forced to stop for another 7 hour break, you will be awake and then simply tiring till you are legally allowed to go again. This is completely against us when we all want to drive when fit and sleep when tired.
4. We will contribute and seek industry participation to see improved truck driver standards of licensing and training. Just having a license does not give you the skills needed to load and travel in trucks on the road and overseas drivers must also be tested, rather than simply given a b-double license when they say yes, they drove a big truck where they came from.
I welcome any constructive comments or suggestions, have been trying to see things improve for a long time and do not wish to hijack the blockade page or supporters, but we have a group there who have some passion and much frustration and I want to offer an alternative that could work. We have been doing the TRUCK That videos since our “Sharing rest areas” video and that got good coverage and exposure and while they are for us, they are also aimed at the public and I am getting good comments on my blog http://www.truckright.blog but can only do so much alone.
We will start the club next week. What do you think? I already have 6 who will join and the first bloke has paid. The National Road Freighters Association have said they support the intent and if it gets more drivers a chance to participate, then it could work and help us all. Cheers Rod Hannifey.

Truckies on Road Code. If members wish, we will review this when we get to 50.

 

1. Respect, assist and treat other truckies as you would like to be treated.

2. Make allowances for car drivers. They don’t drive or understand trucks.

3. Your behaviour on the road and to other motorists is how we are all seen. Try to be courteous and show a good face to represent the industry that feeds you and your family.

4. Do not tailgate.
Cars – you are seen as pushy cowboys, particularly where there is no safe place to pass for some time. It’s one of our two biggest public issues.
Trucks – help one another, use CB and or flash highbeam when overtaking. Be, and be seen to be, working together as those who spend their life on the road.

5. Blatant speeding is the other biggest issue that the public abhor and use to beat us up in the press, and brand us all as irresponsible cowboys.

6. Jake brakes – in hours of darkness turn off at 60 signs and back on at 100 and only use when absolutely necessary in these urban areas at night.

7. Appearance – make an effort to look and act as a professional truckdriver. Even if you do not like this term, there’s more chance you’ll be treated better if you make an effort to look and act the part.

8. Bad language – on CB, particularly UHF with rural community use and longer range. You are not in a closed room. You don’t speak in front of your family like that, don’t do it in case of others who may be listening.

9. Dip your lights first at night. Show a good example for truckies and others.

10. Safe equipment and safe operation will see you home safe as well.

Whilst any effort to educate the average car driver will take many years, we can only do our best to travel in safety on the road. Your best efforts may often be overshadowed by bad press from an incident or accident involving a truck and often wrongly blamed upon the truckie, but only with time and education will the public, both motoring and general, come to appreciate the enormous contribution that the road transport industry makes to their comforts and way of life.

Your efforts and time on the road will either assist or destroy the attempts being made by many to improve how we are seen and treated, both on the road and off. It is a hard life on families and not respected for the money in equipment and cargo carried, or lifestyle involved. Australias’ truckies do carry this country.
With your help this message will go someway to lift the standard for all.

Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey. Road Transport and Road Safety Advocate.
Email rod.hannifey@bigpond.com Web: http://www.truckright.com.au

 

Frustration by the Truckload. 4th February 2018.

Goodaye all. I am sure you have seen and heard of “Operation Rolling Thunder” in the press etc. The biggest ever blitz on the trucking industry across four states? The Police officer I heard on the radio said they were “sick and tired” of crashes involving trucks and I have to say, so say all of us. What happened to all involved is a tragedy and it was also for all those car occupants, killed by other car drivers, too! Yet has there been a blitz on them for causing all that loss of life and for causing far too many of the crashes involving trucks? NO!

We do not go to work to kill people, we have been asking for education for drivers about sharing the road with trucks for years and what has been done? NOTHING! I did years ago, after writing to each state, get more questions on trucks in the driver handbook and in the test, but it is not enough.

There is a lot of frustration building in the trucks and on the road. Many drivers are talking about blockades and the like, as the only way to get heard. My view is that unless you have a maximum of six issues and you can supply six solutions and you can present a united front to the government seeking those changes, you will get nowhere with a blockade and will simply piss people off.

We do need some changes, both to help us to have the flexibility and rest areas to safely and individually manage our fatigue. We need education of motorists from the early years to share the road with trucks for their safety and ours and we need the bad bits of road fixed, as too often after a crash, they do not get recognised and it seems even harder to get such things fixed now than it was years ago.

Many crashes are a contribution of events and circumstances, where if only one thing changed, it may not have happened, or the consequences may have been different, perhaps even worse. Do you go to work to be involved in a crash? Of course not.

But can we improve things, yes. So readers, what are your suggestions. If you have the power and capacity to change things, then I offer you a ride in the truck with me to see our side. Can those who have never even ridden in a loaded truck for more than 5 minutes, really tell us how to do it? We want to deliver our goods, we want to have a safe workplace and we want to get home to a family we see too little of. What can you do to help? Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

27th January 2018.

Goodaye all. Submissions for the NHVR Electronic Work Diary proposal close on the 30th January. I will publish my submission here.

TRUCKRIGHT ABN 17426245866
TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle (TIV) 2018.
Rod Hannifey, Road Transport and Road Safety Advocate, TIV Driver and Operator. Telephone: 0428 120560 Email: rod@truckright.com.au Website: http://www.truckright.com.au
TRUCKRIGHT Awarded Highly Commended, 3M ACRS Diamond Road Safety Awards 2015. Finalist 3M ACRS Diamond Road Safety Awards 2016, Green Reflector Marking Informal Truck Bays. Awarded Churchill Fellowship 2016.
EWD Submission from Rod Hannifey January 2018.
The current logbook when introduced by the NTC suggested that 10 minutes was sufficient for a break or change of activity, but due to the logbook being in 15 minute increments, it was agreed to have that time as the minimum. If EWDs are to record to the minute as I understand, then it must be agreed how time will be counted. The authorities have long had their way saying that rest time less than 15 minutes is not rest and work time less than 15 minutes is 15 minutes work. That means we can be robbed of time or lose it and cannot get it back. That could mean if I work for 5 minutes, but show 15, I can lose 10 minutes, and for four times, that is 40 minutes and if I need that time to achieve any objective, it is lost and you will fine me severely for working over hours. Similarly, if I stop for 25 minutes, currently I can only record 15 minutes rest and lose 10 minutes, four times that, another 40 minutes lost, so over an hour I cannot control or use to the best intent of my fatigue and comfort.
I propose that any work time be counted and tallied by the minute, so 18 minutes work time is 18 minutes and that rest, where I agree that 2 minutes rest is not reasonable, that rest from 10 minutes or over be counted as the time involved. I have been led to believe that the current intent is for a 20 minute break, to only count 15 minutes rest, but start the next period from the 20 minutes. If this is how you propose to cheat us of our time, then no one that has to deal with customers who do not value or pay for our time, will voluntarily fit an EWD. (I have just been informed at a meeting with NHVR that they cannot change the law to accept 10 minutes as rest, but will be counting rest time above 15 minutes as rest, so 25 minutes rest will be 25 minutes rest.)
WA rules allow that a walk around the truck is a change in activity, yet if I look at a tyre, in other states that is work. Not only is this impossible to control or monitor, it leaves us open to more litigation.
The next step from that is work time, loading etc. When I arrive at a site, I will hit rest. No one will run backwards and forwards to the truck, each time they change activity and we have no control over times on site, let alone delays. Do you really think that a forkie or anyone will wait for my 15 minutes rest to roll over, before I move the truck or a gate etc, or that we will happily be on site for an hour and give all that time away when my physical loading time may be only 20 minutes. Until such time as COR solves this issue or we get paid for any time on site above a prearranged loading time, then I seek to have the ability to log work time after loading. I cannot guess how long or badly I will be screwed around on site and you will then argue I lied, if I put time down and then want it back. For a driver who does 3 or 4 drops in a day, he could be cheated of well over 2 hours.
I have an EWD device fitted to help with what we need and to find problems. I have contacted my supplier with issues regarding how it can better help me with information displayed, warnings of upcoming breaks etc, but there are two big issues. Once the clock starts for each period, I am running to meet the next time deadline, whether a break or hours maximum. I have spoken to other drivers with fleet systems and they too complain of this and drivers in the USA regularly complain of this minute monitoring and its effect on stress and compliance. If I am two minutes late with a logbook, it is not an issue, nor is it in any way a safety issue, but with an EWD, it could be.
I have previously asked for a 30 minute tolerance, even if only twice a week for those days when everything goes bad and all of those things are beyond my control. I am aware of the proposed 8 minute tolerance and also that authorities wanted not one second allowed and if that does not show they are in it for the money and not safety, I don’t know what does. I do not run to maximum hours every day. I never intend to run to maximum hours, but there are times when those hours allow me a better place to eat or sleep. There are still times now, 90% caused by customers or others over who I have no control, that I have to decide on a decent meal, a shower, or another hours sleep.

Allowing the 30 minutes twice a week would recognise that I cannot control others, that COR is yet to reach all and if I go beyond that, then you will fine me as you do now. For drivers who do not deal with customers etc, it will not matter, but for those of us who do, you will be making us criminals due to the simple lack of empathy for truck drivers by others.
My view is that you must meet us somewhere in the middle or no one will want an EWD. For some jobs, it will be an improvement, for others, it has all ready cost them lost earnings and substantial stress as companies use the device to cover themselves for hours etc. Until we have suitable and sufficient rest areas and customers will be held responsible for delays, then you must have some understanding of the job. Currently the laws and penalties are designed, implemented and policed by those who do not have to live by them, who have every facility available to them within reach, yet we live on the road where those facilities can be rare and are at the mercy of customers who do not care if we wait hours for them. Distribution centres who give you a 15 minute window in which to arrive from nearly 1000 kilometres away and yet then expect you to happily be stuffed about for up to 4 hours. This must be fixed before you completely take away our flexibility. Thank you, Rod Hannifey.

I add this here not to influence you or suggest you should resend it as is. I add it to cover my thoughts and hope you will consider other issue you see and raise them now! Once it is law, it is too late and it is hard enough to get heard before, but after it is law, good luck on getting any changes through.

My meeting with the NHVR was fruitful and has allayed but not completely removed some of my concerns. However, I am sure most of you have seen the Toll letter and the comments from some about making EWDs mandatory. Of course by those who will never have to live under them. Yes, we have to do more and there are some truckies that should not be, but the rest of us should not be punished and micromanaged to the tiniest degree, because of them. It is like saying because one politician did the wrong thing, so all should be controlled more. Is that the answer, no.

Please make your thoughts and comments known to the NHVR by contributing a submission and perhaps, we will get a better result. I have just got home from filming our next issue of TRUCK That and tomorrow should have the ABC 7.30 report coming for a trip from Dubbo to Toowoomba, hopefully to better see and feel things from our seat.

Thanks to VicRoads for finally overlaying the northbound section of the Hume at Erreys Road, it has taken nearly 4 years to get that bit done, but only a 7 out of 10 for the job, still some minor undulations there which I fear, will again become bigger over time.

I would also hope many pollies read Steve Shearers comments on the issues raised from the crashes of the last couple of weeks. Let is hope we get good improvements in safety for all, not just knee jerk reactions form those who want to be seen to do something, even if that something makes things worse. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

21st January 2018 A tragic week.

Goodaye all. It has been a tragic week for crashes and deaths on the road and unless any of us were involved in each of these incidents, we can only go on what we hear and learn from press and others and most of them, were not there either. Yes in weeks, months or years, there will be completion of a crash inquiry and for those involving deaths, a Coroners Report, but that will not stop a crash tomorrow and is so far away, we are unlikely to learn much to help now.

Following the tanker crash the CEO of Toll issued a letter to the Prime Minister and others as an operators perspective, saying we have had enough inquiries and that we must do something now and that was before the Dubbo crash. He also said Toll as the biggest, must be included.

These are his 6 points taken from a copy sent to me by one of the media groups I spoke to. 1. Have one rule book for heavy vehicles and drivers across the country including  a national approach to mandatory stationary rest times, speed limits and driver licensing. (abridged) 2. Introduce a national operator licensing system. 3. Enhance community understanding of how to drive around trucks, including through the graduated licensing system and education campaigns. 4. Incentivise and reward safe, modern fleets with life-saving technologies. 5. Make telematics mandatory for regulatory purposes. 6. Draw on private sector expertise from transport operators in any discussion on improving road safety outcomes pertaining to heavy vehicles.

I applaud him making the effort and he is far more likely to have the Prime Minister take note, than he will of my list. I agree with points  1, 3 and 6 with the note 6 must also include those who live and work on the road, not just the big companies who are not there for us, as drivers. In point one he mentions mandatory stationary rest times, but completely fails to mention the lack of rest areas or penalties, or lack of flexibility.

I have done a number of media interviews during the week and heard others. I do agree with the Australian Trucking Associations’ call for better crash investigation and this has been asked for by others for many years. How can we change things if we do not have the unbiased and unemotional data from those who can do a complete investigation? Those involved at such sites have enough tragedy to deal with at the time and later investigations can have media push and frenzy, pushing them for someone to blame.

In the media I said that there must be drivers involved with any of this, as I have for years. I have pushed to get better notice of industry requests for submissions towards better outcomes and my view is that those who make, implement and police our laws, do not have to live by them and have all the toilets, facilities and their needs met close at hand, when there are not even enough rest areas, let alone recognition of the job we do and the life we lead, to feed and clothe every Australian.

So this is my list and I would welcome your thoughts. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

  1. Driver education is the biggest issue. For car drivers about sharing the road with trucks, to learn 60 plus tonne of b-double will not stop, simply because you pulled out in front of it, is a bad lesson to learn as it kills you. We do not teach young people (who like you and I are all bullet proof when they get their license) about sharing the road with large trucks. If we included a video of the Truckies Top Ten Tips at time of licensing, that would help. It is visual and so will be retained, it could be done from the truckies seat and so be accurate and surely 10 minutes at time of licensing towards the next 60 years on the road, is not too much to give. There must also be better training of truck drivers, particularly those who come from overseas. All must be tested and capable, instead of just being given a license when they may never have driven trucks of the size we operate here. A national licensing system with national standards can only come when we have suitable training.
  2. The impacts that our roads have on crashes is often overlooked. Yes our roads are better than they were in most places, but our maintenance is terrible. There is a section of the Cunningham Highway just south of Yelarbon that I have been asking to have fixed for over 4 years! It is dangerous. Yet after threatening to make more noise, they got surveyors out who agree it is a problem, but they have no money to fix it they say. I told them if there is a fatality there, I will hold them responsible as they knew and did nothing about it and this is everywhere. Roads must be built and repaired to a safe standard, not patched each week, or have the patch make it worse. Road irregularities that cause impacts that are double the weight of the truck, because the surface is so bad, (and I can document and list these) will kill people. There must be a national road standard, so that I can show a problem that is likely to cause and or contribute to a crash, that it is fixed quickly, not in 5 years. There must also be some value in what we get for our money. Fifteen, million dollar machines all idle while 3 blokes sweep a road, is not good value. There must be some warranty period, so that they can’t just come back next week and charge again, for a lousy repair in the first place.
  3. Rest areas. There are not enough! How can we manage our fatigue when there is no shade, not enough room to get away from a frig van or stock truck or to open your windows and bunk doors, or if you are lucky enough to have an ICEPACK, to get far enough away not to interrupt some other drivers sleep. We need sites to encourage car drivers to stop, so they need to be clean and have toilets, we need enough for caravaners so they do not take up truckies spots, we need sites with all the facilities for all, as we cannot afford and never should have, separate sites for each. If well designed, such sites will suit all and with more cars stopped during the day and more trucks stopped at night, we will get the best utilisation and benefit for the money spent. Like the roads, do it once, but do it right.
  4. We need recognition that not all people or drivers are the same and that the fatigue regulations must have some flexibility for different people. Telematics for companies to monitor is fine, but micromanaging drivers to the minute and the metre, will not stop crashes. Yes we need rules, but a fine in the thousands of dollars because a driver went 15 minutes further to get a toilet, a shower or a better meal, and they are becoming harder to find, cannot be justified.
  5. Yes we need national regulations. We are closer now than we have ever been and it must be completed. I do agree to some differences, but not thousands. National registration and licensing to give both a view to how we operate, what we need and a base line for those entering the industry is good, but not to exclude all so big companies can do what they like. If you help or subsidise big companies to adopt new technologies, how will the little bloke ever compete. In the aim of fairness, we should be helping the little bloke to be safer and more competitive and give better service.
  6. There must be more truck driver input and understanding of the job by all. Yes car drivers are on the road with us and yes, they too have a right to have a say, but few of them have ever been in a truck and so how can they understand trucks, let alone tell us what to do. Our industry is so wide spread and diverse, we cover from one end of the country to the other and we have so many different parts, livestock, general, tippers, tankers, frig vans, oversize etc, that we struggle to get together and agree on what we need.

I cannot fix the problem, nor can you, but if we do recognise those that do the job, I believe we will get a better response. Some of the media did recognise the improvements we have made, some did specify that the majority of car/truck fatal crashes are the fault of the car driver, but many did not know nor were they interested. I “expert” raised concerns about the safer b-doubles being involved in these crashes and that implied they were not as safe as told, but has he ever been in one?

13th January 2018. Rest Areas.

Goodaye all. This is rest areas month. We do not have enough suitable and sufficient rest areas for trucks. Yes there is a need for cars and caravans etc as well, but a car can safely pull up on most road shoulders and vanners have the option of a caravan park or even a motel. Trucks are not legally allowed to park in certain areas, no one wants them near their space, (but they want the goods they deliver) and you can’t simply park up to 68 tonne of b-double on the road shoulder and go to bed as you need or may be legally required to comply with hours laws.

The Australian Road Research Board (ARRB) did a study some years ago and it was found that not one of our major highways met the minimum standards for truck rest areas and there are more trucks, more cars and caravans on the road now. We have lost many minor sites, where someone thinks that is no good or unsafe, but we are never consulted nor I believe considered. There is no other group that live in these sites on the road and that are subject to such harsh penalties, if we do not comply with laws, designed and policed by others, who do not have to live by them.

These people have control over when they go to sleep and work, they have toilet facilities at home and at work, they have shade and food within their reach most of the day and we DO NOT. There are hundreds of stockpile sites where road crews keep materials and these sites often have shade and good hard stand ground, yet we cannot work together to utilise those sites. When new roads are built, the old road could very often be used for a truck bay at little or no extra cost, yet that doesn’t happen as much as it should either.

There is a deviation just completed south of Peak Hill at Trewilga on the Newell Highway. When the work was started, I rang and asked about getting one area as a truck parking bay. The work has just been completed and whilst I have rang and spoken to people during the works, every one of 5 separate areas we could have had at little or no cost has been torn up and I don’t mean closed, I mean completely destroyed, including good old road sections and other spaces I have been told we cannot have.

Toilets and shade and the design of truck parking bays is crucial to getting good sleep on the road and yet we are simply just given a bit of dirt too often. Then when we get good new facilities, if they are not designed to allow separation from other trucks, which then park less than a metre either side of you and then stop and start and slam the door when they only want a 15 minute break and you are trying to have a required 7 hour continuous break, so how do you get that? They pull down all the trees, so no shade and then the cars and caravans come in as well.

We released a video about sharing rest areas on http://www.whitelinetv.com please have a look and let me know what you think. We as truckies do not want tired car and or caravan drivers on the road, but we do not have the options you do and we do get fined huge amounts if we don’t comply. Road authorities say the biggest cost of rest areas is firstly the deceleration and acceleration lanes on major roads and then the upkeep or maintenance. So if we combine the facilities we all need, we should have more and better rest areas for less cost, than if we had separate ones for cars and trucks.

Think about this. How many cars do you see asleep in car only rest areas at night (where trucks are excluded by signs and or design) which have toilets and tables and chairs and shade that we cannot use at all, let alone at night and yet we are the ones required by law to sleep in such areas.

I welcome new truck rest area guidelines being currently developed that will hopefully see more understanding of our needs and the development then of better designs that will help us to get good sleep, we need shade and separation space and clean toilets too. I hope we can then get more suitable rest areas built for all road users, but we have a long way to go. What is your experience in road rest areas? I would welcome your thoughts. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

7th January 2018.

Goodaye all. How many of you travel the highways? Now a trip to see family on the highway does count, but how many of you do it each week? That is my job and the job of interstate or long distance truck drivers the world over. They leave their home and family to help you feed and clothe yours. They are in charge of and responsible for the truck and or trailers, in my case replacement value of the TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle would be well in excess of $650,000. Then you could have a load of chemical, or a big machine for the mines worth from half a million up.

So we are talking serious money in my charge. Then to make it earn its keep, I have to drive it. On our less than perfect, but yes, better than the good old days roads, but now I am in a bigger, longer and heavier combination and there are many more cars and caravans on the road. Then I have to be compliant with all the laws of each state I travel in, keep the customer, the boss, the police, the road authorities, the other motorists, the public and from your perspective, but certainly not mine, lastly my family happy.

Now if you can do that, that is a good start, but there is much more to the task. I have to fill in my logbook and be compliant with all the laws on time on the road, the size of the vehicle and what roads it can travel on, where I can legally park, try and find good food and or a rest area when I need one to safely manage my fatigue and of course, I have all those listed above I am trying to keep happy, telling me how to do it for their benefit or because they know better than me. Could they (or would they) do the job, of course not, it is too hard a life. Why would they want to live in a truck and deal with motorists who are not taught to deal with them?

How many of you have seen statistics listing the involvement of trucks in crashes? How often is the truck and or the truckie, made out to be the bad guy? Mostly. Too often any crash involving a truck, (often even if it only has a ute and a tiny local truck) it is deemed a truck crash, which implies guilt by default. It is not a crash involving a truck, it is a truck crash and yes, too often people die and worse, often the driver of the smaller vehicle. Yet if you look at the kilometres we do in a year and the fact, that the vast majority of fatal crashes between cars and trucks, are the fault of the car driver, we are not always the bad guy. Yet that is too often how we are unfairly portrayed.

We are not all perfect, we are human and we make mistakes, but my view generally is that all truckies go to work with one thing in mind and that is to get home to a family they see too little of. I had Mr Brendon Nelson do a trip with me when he was the Leader of the Federal Opposition, he even slept in the top bunk of the truck, perhaps a real and genuine enough person to have made a good Prime Minister, but maybe too nice a bloke for the job, for other people. He made a comment during the trip, that it must be hard to run a family by phone.

Yes we can talk to family better now than we could in the past, but I am sure many will agree, it is not the same as being there and if you are away more than home, not only does it put enormous pressure on your partner, it puts more on your children and your family as a whole and far too often, such families cannot survive it.

Continuing our song theme from last week, how many of you have heard John Williamson’s “A Truckie’s Wife”? One of the lines is “He’s more like an uncle-comes home with ice-creams and toys” and I would hope many of you will have a listen to the song and reply back to me. If you think there is a song that recognises truckies, their wifes’ and or their lives, I would like to know your thoughts. Maybe I will have to write one?

It will certainly have the line that “We go to work to get home safely, to a family we see too little of”. Travel safe in 2018, have a little bit of empathy for truckies on the road, give us some room to manoeuvre our larger vehicles and if you respect the size and weight of trucks, you will improve road safety for all. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

31/12/2017 A TRUCKING GOOD NEW YEAR to all. Looking Forward, Looking Back.

Goodaye all. How many of you recognise the song name? Slim Dusty is an Australian legend and made over 100 albums and one of the last was “Looking Forward, Looking Back” and the title song was the same. Not a bad idea at this time of year, would you not agree?

We must look back at what we have done, learn from our mistakes and seek to improve and look forward to what we are yet to, but can, achieve. I do believe in goal setting, though not to the degree that it rules my life. I look forward, I do some planning and in doing that, I do look back to what worked, what didn’t, what I learnt and what I can do better.

I would like to thank all who have helped and or contributed to the TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle (TIV) and what it has achieved. It is still like peeing in the ocean and expecting the level to rise, it is a small part of a large industry and will never fix all the problems, but it is my attempt to do something, rather that just sit and moan and expect someone else to do it for me.

Without the help and contributions of all those who assist, it would not exist and my dream would never have seen the light of day. I look back to events attended, things I have contributed to, issues I have tried to improve and or at the least, be part of and I look forward to the next TIV.

In February in will be asking for more support from any who would like to help. I can only do so much as an employed driver and my hope is to have a truck and trailers supplied so I can work for two weeks and generate enough income to feed my family and pay my bills and have two weeks to work for the road transport industry, attending events, taking people for rides in the truck and contributing to industry issues in a bigger way than I can now. I would welcome any who might want to consider contributing to give it some thought till then.

January will be rest areas month. I am planning to have articles in all industry press seeking more rest areas, an agreement from all road authorities that no truck rest areas, informal or otherwise, will be closed without replacements being built FIRST, not later, as we all know how hard it is to get something done later when it is not important to that person in the first place. We continue to have one shut here and one shut there by different groups or districts and they say, it is only one spot. But when ten different places are closed and nothing is replaced, we continue to fall behind in the number and quality of the truck rest areas we need NOW!

Please keep an eye out for submissions being called soon for comment on the new national rest areas guidelines and are you interested in and or contributing to the call for submissions from the NHVR re Electronic Work Diaries currently? There is also funding available from the NHVR and Federal Government for Heavy Vehicle Safety Projects, so if you have any good ideas, give that a go as well.

Kirsty the new editor at Big Rigs, did a trip with me from Brisbane to Dubbo last week. She has agreed to fill out a TIV riders form and to support my rest areas and TIV requests over the next couple of months and I have spoken with Tim Giles at Diesel Magazine as well and would welcome any suggestions or other avenues to push these issues forward.

So, thanks to all of you who read this, who have commented and or passed it on. I hope 2017 has ben good to you and if not, hope even more, that 2018 will be. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

25th December 2017 Merry Christmas.

Goodaye all. Just a short note as it has been a long day and I am about to go to bed to get up for Christmas Day. Over my life I have been very lucky to enjoy most Christmas’ with family. As a child with Mum and Dad and my two sisters till I was 15 and my Mum left home and life changed. Then there was Dad and I and my sisters till they were taken by Mum. In the scheme of things, I had a reasonable childhood, got smacked a few times, warned a few more and never really did anything seriously bad.

My luck continued when I met my wife and we have had 7 wonderful children, though there have been tough times and this job puts enormous pressure on partners, children and relationships generally. Too many drivers I know have lost one or more families because of this job. There are many drivers who will still be on the road and or alone at this time of year and whilst I cannot prevent or change that, I would ask that those of us who are better off, at the very least, recognise the life truckies lead so that we can have our Christmas feed, the presents etc and the time off, they may not enjoy.

So in wishing you all a very Merry Christmas for this year, I ask only that you have some empathy for those on the road, that you recognise what we contribute to your way of life, that you endeavour to share the road with us and that you make every effort to get home safely to whatever family you may have and that if you can’t, no matter what the issues, that you tell them you love them, because it will be too late when they are gone.

Thank you for your interest and reading and comments. I hope I can continue to offer a view from the truckies seat and perspective, that will occasionally entertain and more often, educate and help all those on the road. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

 

10th December. The K200 returns.

Goodaye all. The TIV K200 reached about 1.3 million kilometres two weeks ago. The Cummins EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) Euro 5 motor has been replaced with another. What do you think such an engine is worth? Well over $60,000 just to buy, then you have the removal of the old and the fitting of the new. What do you think a new K200 is worth? Well over $380,000 to replace this one as it stands, with all the extras fitted and supplied by those who support the TIV, on top of the truck itself.

You must agree we are talking large sums of money for most people. When you consider the cost of the whole TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle including the two trailers will then take the cost of the unit to above $700,000, no wonder I cannot get someone to give me one to do this fulltime. Anyone who is keen, please email me.

Trucks are seen by many as either a hindrance on the road, or a hazard, particularly when you hear about truck crashes and blitzes, yet if you look at the figures fairly, instead of going off the percentage of trucks versus cars simply by numbers and look at distance travelled, then the figures do a complete reversal. Most interstate truckies do 200,000 kilometres per year or more depending on the job they do. How many of you do that amount of travel?

In 5 years, that is one million kilometres travelled on our less than perfect roads, sharing those roads with many who are not taught to share them with us. Hitting all those potholes, culverts and road deformities which not only impact into the truck causing wear and tear, increasing maintenance costs, they impact into the driver and then, back into the road. Can you truly imagine that. Living in a 2m by 1m box, bouncing up and down the highways, trying to find a good place for a feed, a shower, a toilet and then, a place to sleep. Many of our rest areas have little or no shade and if we all drove mostly at night, how do we sleep in the day?

There are many worse jobs, but I feel there are few who really understand what we give up for you to have your food, your clothes and your fuel. It is a lonely life, hard on families and not for all. But it must be done and it must be done with the aim of getting home safely. We do not go to work to crash, we go to work to feed our families, even if we do not get to see them enough and we go to work to deliver for Australia.

Next week I will add some photos of where I live up to 6 days a week and some of the facilities I use. I would ask all of you to really give some thought to this life. We do not want Gold Plated toilets and showers every 50 kilometres, but we do need more rest areas, better facilities and shade and the occasional toilet would be nice and then we need good truck stops to get good meals at. With todays life of fast food, you might think it good to be on the road and eating out each night, but believe me, it is not good for your health, your pocket or your life, if you do not make the effort to control what you eat.

You all have the choice of going to a supermarket, probably a choice of more than one, but in the roughly 1800 kilometres between Melbourne and Brisbane I travel each week, there are three that if I am really lucky, I might get a park near them to do my shopping. Just imagine parking a 26 metre long vehicle at your favourite shopping centre, good luck. All we ask, is for some education of motorists about sharing the road with trucks, good safe roads, reasonable rest areas so we can safely mange our fatigue and a little bit of recognition for and empathy of the job we do. Would that be a fair request? Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.