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

TIV-Logo jpegTRUCK That Australia Drivers Club logo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15th September 2019 The USA and Us.

Goodaye all. I will be off to work in a few hours and last week, came across this post from young Wendy. Wendy rides with her partner in the USA and writes this piece for Landline magazine and to be fair, this is the complete piece. So I am sharing it with you, but have contacted Wendy as well telling her of my intent. I did have the pleasure of meeting her at the Great American Truck Show (GATS) in Dallas last year at the end of my Churchill Fellowship trip. She can be funny and yet conveys many important messages. What she speaks of here rings so true with many of our problems and should make us think and try harder, to be not only heard, but listened to. How we do that, is the big question.

“It’s almost like lawmakers didn’t listen”
SEPTEMBER 6, 2019 Wendy Parker
When I was a kid there was one phrase my momma used (often) to freeze me in my tracks and listen.
She’d sneak up on me and my brothers like a well-trained ninja and at just the moment any of us (mostly me) did something stupid she’d appear out of thin air to question our complete understanding of how decent human beings are supposed to act with one simple query.
“What in the world is wrong with you?
Woe be unto the offender if it was followed up by, “You better look at me when I’m talking to you,” because the answer could be, “My hair is on fire,” and it wouldn’t matter. Whatever was done in the process of catching your own fool hair on fire was an affront to the general population and, most importantly, something momma couldn’t fathom.
My mom is the kind of parent who would pat out the flames, put some Mercurochrome on the open wounds, and promptly whip a hind-end for playing with matches.
(Side note: Anyone else remember Mercurochrome? I believe it was made of lemon juice and battery acid, mixed with fire ant venom and enough orange dye No. 2 left over to paint your toenails. Pretty sure it was outlawed in the Geneva Convention as “cruel and unusual.”)
I was reminded of the terror momma’s simple question invoked in me as a child while chatting with her a couple weeks ago. Our conversation wandered to trucking, like it always does. She asked, “Honey, why do all these big trucks just pull over to the side of the highway to park? It’s so dangerous.”
I explained to her about the ELD, hours of service and lack of parking all being contributors. She asked, “Well, who makes those rules?”
I told her the FMCSA enacts and enforces rules made by politicians.
I was unprepared when she whipped out the dreaded question, “Well what in the world is wrong with them?”
Of course, her question was rhetorical this time, but it got me thinking about some things.
Trucking’s hair is on fire, and truck drivers didn’t have anything to do with setting it aflame. It’s almost like professional drivers told lawmakers how bad things could get and they didn’t listen.
Trucking advocates asked lawmakers to “look at us” when we were talking to them about the devastating effects enacting the ELD rule would have without amending the HOS. They need to listen. The lawmakers countered with, “It will increase compliance which in turn will save lives.”
Cue a Maury Povich voice-over, because that’s how I imagine this information should be presented to lawmakers: “In the case of HOS Compliance Equates to Safety, the numbers gathered since forced ELD implementation reveal: That is a lie.”
Well isn’t that special? Let’s carry on.
Trucking advocates asked for mandatory driver training rules to make sure new drivers were properly trained. The powers-that-be agreed and set about an arduous process of gathering information with which to craft effective, comprehensive laws regarding driver training.
In my best Morgan Freeman voice, because this sad soliloquy is worthy of Freeman’s vocal timbre: “After many, many hours of unpaid time and travel, the recommendations made by a committee of transportation professionals were almost completely ignored. Further insult was added by failing to require any physical behind-the-wheel requirements in mandatory training. The driver training rule was, in fact, reduced to little more than lip service that will end up taking half a decade to come to fruition.”
Oh my.
And just in case there needed to be more fuel added to the hair-on-fire status, for many years trucking advocates have insisted to anyone who would listen that detention time was one of the most pressing issues in the industry.
Again, lawmakers assured, “An ELD will help drivers get paid for detention time. It will also even the playing field and drive up rates.”
In my best Oprah voice, because she once epitomized the frantic jubilation of unfettered screaming joy: “Who wants an HOS exemption?! Does everyone want one? YES! Does it completely undermine the rules to give out multiple exemptions? WHO CARES? Here’s an exemption, and here’s an exemption! Level playing field? What’s that? We’re giving EXEMPTIONS!”
“Level playing field” is a stupid business term and it is impossible to achieve while outside forces (like slow-poke shippers and receivers) aren’t held responsible for screwing up the flow of commerce by keeping drivers for ridiculous amounts of (often unpaid) time.
Well whaddya know? Drivers have been telling lawmakers this very thing for many years now.
They didn’t listen.
So to answer your question momma, what’s wrong is, we have lawmakers who believe more regulation is the answer, when in fact, it is not. And until we can convince the folks in charge of making rules that compliance does not equal safety, you will continue to see trucks parked on the side of the highway and hear of trucking companies closing the doors.”

Rod again. So does some of this ring true in Australia, yes it does? We have the current HVNL review underway here and I have just got submission number 5 in late and started on 6 and at 7 or 8 hours per submission, with 8 due in total, who will pay me a week and half’s wages for my time? How many drivers will make the effort, or simply, don’t have the time available, let alone be able to meet the deadlines.

Now we have a Senate Enquiry, another chance to get heard, lets hope, but I also spent an hour or so responding to West Australias’ Transport Dept request for input into their road safety strategy. How many times do we have to tell them, yet do they listen? We must keep trying, but Wendy covers it with some down to earth words of wisdom. If only we could get the lawmakers to listen to her too. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

8th September 2019 Where do we sleep?

Goodaye all. There has been a number of crashes, as unfortunately happens each week and people die on our roads. One was a very well known and high profile truckie with immaculate equipment. None of us was there and until a proper crash investigation is done, I will not comment further on the specifics, but want to raise a couple of issues that may have some relevance.

How and where we park, where we can get good quality sleep and rest in trucks on the road, is both much restricted and then controlled by those who do not have to do it themselves. We must manage our fatigue, yet don’t have enough rest areas, we get big fines for breaking fatigue laws, yet those laws can allow you to drive when you should not and yet, expect you to sleep when not tired or not in a suitable place to get good sleep. If you were a cynical truckie, you would say, we can’t win.

The following is from a document I sent to the RTA and Transport Minister in 2003. It is one of a number, including a complete list of sites on the Pacific Highway. There was a time when I would get a call each month from yet another driver asking me what I was going to do about the lack of truck rest areas on the Pacific Highway. I rang, I wrote, I emailed and I did try, but here we are in 2019 and the problem is worse now. What more can I do?

NSW Truck Rest Areas.

Truck rest areas in NSW do not currently provide for all truckdrivers, to rest and manage their fatigue as well as would be possible, with improvements and better facilities required in some areas and additional truck rest areas in others. Shade is also critically lacking and without shade structures being provided, (because trees have not been planted and shade addressed sufficiently in the past), will take years to provide, even if trees were planted tomorrow.

Car rest areas have seen much improvement and should have included improved truck rest areas as well, to see best facilities provided for all, at least cost, but this has not been the case. Car rest areas are little used at night and are designed to keep trucks out, thereby increasing costs to road authorities in providing facilities for both car and truck drivers. Car drivers are more likely to park with trucks at night where they feel more secure, so car facilities are virtually all wasted at night.

Major Highways. Hume Highway facilities are not on a par with those in Victoria, though they too lack shade. The most recent additional truck rest area constructed at Bookham has provided a large area, but at a ridiculous incline that sees any driver fool enough to park there, fall to the floor if he should roll over. A disappointing result, for both those that payed for it and for those it was built for. There has been some improvement in others with holes filled in, but surfaces are still sometimes, dirt. The improvements to the southbound site just out of Sydney have seen less room available, but better facilities. Herringbone parking, whilst it can fit more trucks in, also provides more noise and less amenity. The biggest issue on the Hume is the continuing lack of action over a changeover facility required at Tarcutta, that will see improvements to safety for all on this road.

The Pacific Highway is the most in need of additional facilities. There were insufficient spots before it was opened up to b-doubles, particularly from Port Macquarie to the border and then on to Brisbane. Many drivers have been forced to drive on, because bays are too small and too few for the volume of traffic. Town by-passes are also removing more current sites, with no immediate replacement and the Kempsey by-pass (dependant on which route is chosen) will be a decisive factor, in both current and future facilities. There is a need to immediately provide additional truck rest areas and to plan for future traffic and to provide a changeover facility for future increases in traffic volume. The problem has existed since before being opened to b- doubles and is now critical. Drivers have seen no physical response and are then somewhat cynical of talk of better road safety, when nothing is seen to be done to address the rest area issue.

Newell Highway. Much has been done on the northern end with sealing and providing tables and chairs in a number of sites, though shade is an even more critical need in the heat here. New facilities at North Star in the north and Beckom, with another under construction at Gillenbah in the south, are much appreciated. The Pilliga though, from Narrabri to Coonabarabran has three sites within 3 kilometres at Coonabarabran and then nothing on the northbound side for 100 kilometres, with three small sites on the southbound side within the Pilliga, not providing sufficient capacity.

I have since tried hard to get something done and must say, have even been criticised for banging on about not enough rest areas by some. We now have better truck rest area guidelines and I contributed to the first ones more than 15 years ago and was not happy with the outcome, but could do no more at the time.

I asked for this update and it took a while, but I will specifically thank Mr Paul Retter, the past CEO of the National Transport Commission for pushing and getting the guidelines updated and yes, I contributed many hours in writing and on the phone to see them done. I was disappointed there was not more driver contribution, but we are better off now with guidelines available for those who are responsible to build truck rest areas.

Now I will continue to bang on for more rest areas, but will also seek guidelines for Stopping Bays so we do not get useless bits of bitumen you can stop on, but still only be 100 centimetres from 100 kph traffic. Wire rope barriers are good to stop you hitting trees, but how can you pull up for any reason, change a tyre, get a repair done or God forbid, need a Powernap, yet have nowhere safe to do it?

What must we do to get safe places to sleep? How many more drivers will die, till we have suitable and sufficient truck rest areas in Australia? Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

1st September 2019 Happy Fathers Day.

Goodaye all and Happy Fathers Day to all the Dads. I hope you either spent time with and or heard from your children. It is one of the biggest downsides of this job, the life we lead away from our families and then, when we get to see them, we are not needed, because they have learnt to live without us. Many families spend time apart, but there are few jobs that both take us away and then tear our lives apart, from those we love.

I had hoped to catch up with my first boss from over 40 years ago on my last trip. When I rang, he was heading south down the centre and I was heading north up the coast. We thought maybe on the way home for each. He wanted to get home in one day and I had all the Mt Isa freight on and work was waiting for me and the freight to get that driver on his way. We did speak on the phone and wave as we passed each other nearing Dubbo.

In one of the conversations, interrupted by our marvellous phone signal strength issues, he asked how many children I have. When I said seven, he said, “What did you say” and I said, “seven” and he said, “That was what I thought you said, so you must have got home sometimes.” “Yes, my wife used to miss me while I was gone, but now she doesn’t want me there at all.”

It is not that bad, nor is it something that makes me happy for the job I have and the life I lead. We all have choices and sometimes we take a path and it is hard to change it later. Even if I wanted to, I simply can’t take a year off and reskill or get another job or profession. I will be honest, that with the time I have put into TRUCKRIGHT and my road safety hobby, I would also then be walking away from what has kept me sane and focused on not thinking about what I could be doing, with my family.

Now it is too late and I am yet to find the way to make it better. I still have a dream of having a truck and trailer on the road, working part time and doing my road safety with more time for family. But I will retire with little more than the thanks of the few drivers who recognise my efforts. It is not about, woe is me, or that anyone held a gun to my head to put the time in, it is what it is and I will keep trying to find the solution, to find my mentor with lots of money who loves trucks.

I have just sat and watched a movie with my daughter and it has made me a bit thoughtful, maybe even a bit maudlin and I hope you don’t take it too much as a whinge, as simply my thoughts at the moment. I wish I could find a way to solve all the industries problems, my own and my childrens’ as well, but nothing will change if everybody waits for it to happen and does nothing themselves.
I will plan to be more upbeat next week. But there is more!

I have just finished my reply to issue paper 4, of the NTC Heavy Vehicle National Law Review, Safe People and Practises. The following is my last question response.

Question 11: How can the future HVNL nurture a culture that places a high level of importance on safety?
Some of this is covered in the answer above, some of it will depend on the outcome of this review and whether drivers are given the chance to really and truly contribute. We are the ones on the road, we are the ones who have to live the life, from car drivers brake checking us because they have seen a bad crash blamed on trucks on television. We are the ones whose lives are risked by the stupidity of car drivers who will risk our lives and theirs to save 5 seconds on a trip.

In responding to Safe People and Practises, it must be said that even if we prevented every crash where a truck was at fault, we would only make a small impact on the road toll, yet if we prevented every crash involving a truck but caused by a car driver, we would make a big impact. We would save truckies lives, save the lives of many motorists and prevent many more injuries. I am not saying we don’t need to do more, we do and I will acknowledge the NHVR, in now getting behind such efforts to show some of these issues and aiming to educate the public, but it has been there for so long and ignored by all bar a few for years. Rest areas are still insufficient, the number of caravans putting more pressure on these facilities and the ridiculous laws and penalties issued to safe, fit and awake drivers who have managed their fatigue, only to be told, it is not legal, has possibly done more to kill drivers and destroy their lives and families for many years.

I still believe many drivers are still not aware of the review and many others have complained it is too onerous to contribute. I welcome the recent announcement of easy access through the ATA and Big Rigs and hope this will encourage more drivers to contribute. Thank You, Rod Hannifey.

And now, having spent the time to read and write this submission, I had difficulty submitting it through the website. Yes, submissions were due to close Friday, but I have better things to do than fight with a website. I have submitted it direct via email and with only 4 submissions on Safe People and Safe Practises, would you say it has been well received? Not on your life. How much money are we paying for this review and if only 4 people have responded, are we getting value for that money? I don’t think so. Safe travelling, Rod Hannifey.

25th August 2019 Two weeks on the road.

Goodaye all. Sorry for missing last week, I left thinking I was going to Melbourne and back to Dubbo, but things change. Dubbo, Melbourne, Sydney (5 hours to unload at a DC, we will come back to this), Newcastle, Brisbane, Mackay (24 hour plus break, catching up on reading, some shopping and cleaning out the toolbox), Townsville, Mt Isa, Brisbane and home yesterday. Good to see some different roads, got some nice calls and comments from drivers (some asking was I lost?) and from customers. Being told mine was the best load ever delivered to one site was nice, but the comments on the truck and the curtains from those who have not seen them before, really makes it worthwhile for at least some of the effort put in.

Many have recently asked how long I have been in this truck and what am I doing about another one. This truck was 8 years old in July and the trailers will be 11 years old in October. They were ordered at the ATA Convention in Newcastle in 2008. Designing the first set of curtains and getting all the sponsors co-ordinated to supply their pieces and have it all done while still working fulltime was fun and I still hope to have the first set of curtains on another set of trailers and then set it all up as a BAB quad and then hope to sell you all photos, so I can afford to buy the next one and do more than I can now.
As you might then imagine, I have a lot of catching up to do and still have to finish my submission to the fourth HVNL review paper. But I will list a few bits from the last two weeks for comments and interest.

I got to my DC timeslot in Sydney after having to run to make the loading time in Melbourne, only told when nearly out of time to get there, then a call on the way from the prime contractor who asked, “Will you be there for a 5AM timeslot? No, the timeslot was only decided once I got loaded and was set for 10AM! No one told us, that should be OK. Thanks.” Then outside the gate on time in a que of well over 20 trucks. I rang and was told, “We will get to you.” Nearly 3 hours to get to the boom gate and not once, were any that I spoke to, told of what the problem was. Then on a dock and I thought all good, then sat there for another hour and a half waiting for someone to start unloading me.

I went to the office to ask what was going on and of course, the afternoon shift blamed the morning shift and could not tell me why I had waited 5 hours. I did leave a card and say I would be following up and was keen to have an explanation, rather than just complain. Things go wrong, but 5 hours. If I am more than 30 minutes late and 15 minutes at some sites, I am told, “You are late, you will have to rebook” and when you complain or try to explain, you are told, “That’s your problem.” How one sided is that? Until DCs are held to account for such delays, they will continue to abuse our time and use us as free storage and labour. Who will do something about this?

The USA were to bring in a law that delays of more than an hour or more at a DC would require payment of detention fees. Who do you think stopped that, the big companies of course? Had it got up there, I had hoped to find a way to get the same here, but how and who will do it? I will pursue the DC for an answer.

Had a shower at the BP in Townsville, still being refurbished after the massive flooding earlier in the year, had backpackers try to get in while I was in the bloody shower and then even before I got out the door. Walked back to the truck and said Goodaye to another driver, then saw he had a flat. Went and told him and he too had just got out of the shower and was suitably unimpressed. He said he might need a bit of a hand after his boss said, change it. He thought he had all the gear but was missing a brace bar, so I stayed and helped before I headed to Mt Isa.

Good to see many blue reflectors along the road to Mt Isa, but very small and seemingly not being maintained. I rang TMR in Mt Isa and was directed back to Cloncurry and with many green reflectors in Roma, done by a previous TMR Warwick man who helped me years ago and then moved to Roma and did a heap of sites there, I got a contact email for both and will pursue them both. More to do.

I wish I did not have to chase every district, state and still can’t find anyone in a position of authority in any state road agency, who will see the value and do some thing to have the green reflector marking of informal truck bays done properly. It is cheap, effective and will save lives till one day we have enough truck rest areas. There are now a couple more sites done here and there, but the logbook and the new camera system will not give anyone the time needed to do it all alone.

Leaving the Blue Heeler pub after tea there, in the next 5 hours, I saw one ute, one semi, one b-double and 12 triple roadtrains. Watching a truck for 15 minutes coming towards you across a flat terrain is different, even from the times when the Newell is quiet. The roos started at Longreach and missing dozens of others, I got one, the first to ever have an impact on the CTI system on the truck. The bloke at Kynuna obviously jinxed me, as he wanted to know all about the CTI, Central Tyre Inflation system on the drive tyres and asked, did I have trouble with roos. Luckily I had some spare bits.

I have said before any truck running the Newell will have less than half the life and or twice the wear and tear of any running the Hume and now the Pacific. There is work being done on the Newell, the Bruce and the Warrego, but there is a long way to go till we have the roads we have paid for and had that money spent on other things. Yes trucks use the road, we deliver to YOU! We deliver your food, your fuel, your clothes, car parts and things so you have a job to do and an income to earn. If you have to be safe at work, why is the road, as our workplace, not required to be safe for us to do our job?

I see the railways saying how hard it is to make a quid and that they are more efficient, but want all user charges removed to be able to compete with road. The thing is, they have their own “road”. It may well need better maintenance, but no one else uses it. Not only do you and every other car driver use the roads we too use, you are not taught to share it with us. I cannot go into any workplace, without being inducted and told what to do and how to act, often beyond simple common sense, (and that is a whole other discussion) but we share the road with you as motorists, yet you are not taught how to share it with us and unless you have been in a truck, do you really understand trucks?

There were at times during the day, more caravans on the road than trucks and I must say those who stopped in truck bays, mostly seemed to have made the effort to park off the bitumen and give us room. I called up a number of vans, some who did the right thing and tried to help or moved over, some answered and then, if no sign on the van, I asked if they had considered a sign showing they were on UHF 40. Most said thanks and it was a good idea. One fellow moved right off the road, yet we were in an overtaking lane so two lanes to use and he still moved over the fog line. I did explain that was not the best thing to do and why and he thanked me for the info.

I could go on, but have to catch up on other things yet, so will wish you all Safe Travelling. I will be on the road Monday to Melbourne and will take my computer and camera, to ensure I will be straight back, a bit of reverse psychology perhaps. Cheers Rod.

11th August 2019 Not Happy Birthday.

Goodaye all, thanks to my youngest daughter for help with airline bookings and our Rod Pilon Tpt Melbourne manager, I was able to attend my sisters’ funeral in Townsville, Tuesday. It was a long day getting back into Melbourne depot near midnight, but I was glad to be able to attend. My sister passed away after a diabetes attack, she had been dealing with it for some years, but was a no nonsense, live life woman. We had not had much time together as children, but I did get to visit with her and some of her family last trip to Townsville some months ago. They came out and picked me up, took me home for tea and a shower and I am glad I got to see her then. Sadly missed and too early departed, Love you Gayle.

I am trying to keep up with the HVNL review, paper 3 response lodged and working on 4 due at the end of this month. Safe People and Practices another 67 pages, asks some hard questions. What does the current HVNL do well, little from a drivers point of view, but it is not simple to explain. I am trying and I hear the cynicism of many drivers who have done so before, and nothing changed. Do I hope they will listen, yes, but there needs to be more voices telling them the problems and offering solutions.

The following should be read by those here who want Electronic Work Diaries here in Australia.

Dave Heller, vice president, legislative affairs, Truckload Carriers Association, speaks to The Machinery Haulers Association at its annual meeting in Fontana, Wisconsin, on July 25, 2019.
To begin with, Heller notde that love them or hate them, electronic logging devices (ELDs) are providing the trucking industry with massive amounts of real-time data about how trucks operate and how truck drivers spend their days. This data, Heller said, is now highlighting – with hard information – the need for more flexible Hours of Service rules, highlighting an “epidemic” in unsafe driving caused by smartphones as well as detention time issues and other industry problems.
“ELDs were never going to make you safer,” Heller told attendees at the conference, adding that a Northwestern University study found that accidents have not decreased as a result of the ELD Mandate, which went into effect last year. “They are a compliance tool. It is the Hours of Service which will help make your operations safer. That’s because the data they provide can be used to shape better regulations in the future.”

Those who think EWDs will stop crashes and that we can be micro-managed by those who do not have to do the job, should take serious note. Detention times were to be legislated to be paid in the USA, but the bill didn’t get up. Who do you think stopped it, not truckers, that’s for sure. The need for “FLEXIBLE” hours of service, and this not by a driver, means some are listening to drivers there, but they may well have put the cart before the horse.

Without flexible rules, rest areas where and when and the size and facilities needed, how do we manage our fatigue? The logbook will not do it for you and if you get it wrong, the penalties far outweigh the road safety risk in the majority of minor breaches, yet the cost to defend yourself can exceed the fine and the authorities know and abuse this from my point of view.

We need a fair and cheap review panel for breaches and that could well see us get a fair justice system for truckies. That is not what we have now. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

5th August 2019, sadness and safety.

Goodaye all. I am currently in Melbourne and fly out to my sisters funeral in Townsville in the morning and need some more sleep, so will try to be succinct. So much to say and so little time, but then how do we as truckies get heard by the mainstream public? I have said the aim of the TIV was to put a different face forward than we usually get in front of the public. When there is a crash, generally it is announced as a truck crash, not a crash involving a truck, so we are all too often deemed guilty by default.

If I were involved in a crash, found to have taken drugs, killed someone (whether my fault or not, I would most often initially be blamed anyway) I would be on all the media for the wrong reasons. Yet when I have a truck that promotes the industry and road safety, a working truck, not a show pony, I still can’t get anywhere near the exposure and traction I would like to.

I got an email about a survey on dash-cam footage. I filled it in and have responded directly to the researcher, saying it seemed very negative, nearly saying the only reason for putting up dash-cam footage, was to shame or lambast someone else and in doing so, the person putting it up, sought some higher position or their view was the only one.

I do not know about worldwide, but my understanding is the first dash-cam, at least in Australia was put together by a truckie. It was done because he was sick of telling people what stupid things car drivers did in front of trucks and no one would believe him, so he looked for, sourced components and came up with the idea and I had one from him, very early on.

Many years ago when it was first spoken of, I did three different spots on TV current affairs shows and they were generally positive. Now of course they are everywhere and have been taken to the next level in many fleets of not just watching the traffic outside, but the driver as well and I do have a problem with that, when I live in the truck up to 6 days a week. More of those who don’t have to do, telling those who do, how to do it!

I still believe that there is a real value in showing mistakes made by drivers who do not understand sharing the road with trucks, to save the lives of others. Not all truckies are perfect either, we too are human, but we go to work and want to get home safely each trip. Now you would say, doesn’t everyone?
If that was what we were all thinking as we drove, perhaps we would all be safer on the road. Instead of this, it seems many forget, think it will never happen to them, or think, they own the road and everyone else should get out of the way. Or do they simply not think of anything except getting in front of the next car, or saving two seconds on their trip?

I will ask you all and go to bed.

When you are behind the wheel, do you think of safety, yours and or all others you are sharing the road with? Do you think other drivers do? Or do you just think of other things? How do we focus people’s attentions on the road and of course, we cannot put mind control in place to do so for every second someone is behind the wheel, or should we go that far to save lives? Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

28th July 2019

Goodaye all. I got an early morning phone call Saturday from my youngest sister, to say my sister Gayle had passed away late Friday night. I was lucky enough to visit with her and some of her family some months ago. Little else this week has as much impact, so I will leave things till next week if Ok with you all. Thanks and Safe Travelling, Rod.

22nd July 2019 Work and a break.

Goodaye all. Had a short week last week, down to Melbourne and back, then truck was due for machinery, it is now 8 years old. I fixed the washers, they found one thing I didn’t know about, a leaking booster and it went back to the yard to tighten a crossmember and check a slack adjuster and the boss suggested a new set. Good idea, as some of them might still be original.

I went to Sydney with one daughter, we then stayed with another and the third arrived and we climbed Sydney Harbour Bridge for my grandsons’ eighth birthday. Some reading, a bit of shopping and time with my three daughters and three of four grandchildren. A couple of days hols while the truck was sorted and hopefully all good for tomorrow.

I had applied for funding from the NHVR to buy the current truck and trailers, but was unsuccessful with that application. They would never fund a new truck and trailers and I thought I had a good proposal for buying the current TIV and I would commit to the next 4 years and be able to earn an income, but do more than I can now, as an employed driver. Back to winning the Lotto or finding someone who will fund me or supply a truck and trailers. Never give up.

I am working on the next curtain design and imagine, this will be the last TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle. I will be 62 next month, (this time last year I was in England on my Churchill Fellowship Study tour) and hope to be able to work till at least 67 (need to pay off a house), but there are simply not enough hours in the day to do it all and my family have paid too high a price so far.

So, with the help of many smaller sponsors, I still hope to have a new set of curtains and a new looking (if not new truck or trailers)TIV on the road in the new year. I plan to get into that now I have the answer from the funding application, as I was waiting to see what I could achieve if that had been successful. Congratulations to all those who did succeed and I hope each of the endeavours reach their aims and each helps drivers in one way or another. Till next week Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

14th July 2019 Where did you sleep?

Goodaye all. Where did you sleep this week? Did you sleep in your own bed or if away from home, in a nice hotel? Even if you slept in a cheap motel, you would have had clean sheets, a clean shower and toilet and at the very least, food available possibly on site and or, other choices close by.

By law, I cannot park the TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle (TIV) in front of a motel or caravan park and go inside and spend the night. I am only allowed to park a commercial vehicle for one hour in a place with either kerbing and channelling or a system of streetlighting, depending on which state you live in.

So in theory, I must park in a truckstop or truck rest area, unless I have a yard or the capacity to park off the road and few customers allow you to park and sleep onsite. So where do I get my shower, my clean sheets and have access to a toilet and reasonable food, be safe and also able to protect my truck and its’ load. You do realise, I am responsible for both don’t you? I can’t really even park it somewhere, then walk or get a cab to a motel and if I have bulk Dangerous Goods on board, I am breaking the law to leave it unattended.

There are few motels without air conditioning and dirty ones won’t survive as no one will come back and others will rate them badly, but what if I need to sleep during the day to be compliant with the law. Please show me all the truck rest areas with useable shade, toilets and other facilities you will mostly, all take for granted.

What if I do pull up and get to sleep, at least I don’t have far to go to bed, about one step, but then in the day, the sun moves as it does, or at night, another tired truckie pulls in beside me as he too needs his beauty sleep, but he has a frig van or a load of cattle or makes a noise and wakes me as he has a short break, while I am trying to have a mandatory 7 hour continuous break?

All the above is of no concern to most of you in other jobs, but have you ever for one minute thought about the truckie who delivers your food, your fuel, your clothes, car parts and every other thing you use, how we live on the road? Not one of our major highways in Australia met the minimum standard for the number of rest areas in the only study done in years, let alone did they meet the requirements for even a basic list of facilities that should be available to us. What is being done to change this?

I asked for sometime and we now have a recommended design for truck rest areas, but there is no legal requirement, no funding to make even one highway meet the above standard for the number of spaces, let alone for the design or facilities. We are legally required to manage our fatigue, to comply with laws and penalties made and policed by others, who have no idea of what it is like to live in a truck for a day, let alone a week or more, so do you wonder why I am still asking for something to be done?

None of us want to drive tired, we want to do a trip safely and get home, but we need places and the flexibility in our laws to allow us to do that safely, but currently we don’t have the places, the facilities or the consideration needed and our laws are more there to punish us and raise revenue, than help as operate safely. How can we fix any of this? Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

7th July 2019 Dirt, cotton and wires.

Goodaye all. Hoping the broken wire problem has finally been fixed and I get all my horsepower back. Will know this afternoon when I hook up and head off. Got some new steer tyres and spent a relaxing two hours doing my trailer tyre pressures Friday morning, replaced a missing mudflap whilst the wire search was underway and got a new speedo, though it seems from the trip home, that did not fix that problem.

Earlier in the week, after a mud map error, no one home on UHF or phone and just enough phone signal to confirm with my depot I was on the right farm in the middle of nowhere to unload myself, it was a bit tight over the irrigation channel, but got some good photos on the airstrip where I unloaded. The fork and surface could have been better, but just another day in the life, as many would understand and few others would care about. Funny how the dirt road, even with tracks nearly a foot deep, was often better than the bitumen. At least it was only dust and not mud or would still be there.

Loaded cotton the day after, first truck in, this looks good, but then, all finished, loaded and strapped, only to move forward to go to the weighbridge and be told, sorry, that is not your load. When the lady followed that comment with, “You’re not happy are you?”, I smiled and said, “Well who’s load is it?” It of course belonged to the truck who was to load next. It did get sorted with me having to go to a different delivery point with the load I had on, though suffered another problem when two bales I did have on, were listed as sent the day before and so could not be booked out again. More consultation and discussion and notes on the paperwork. Got a cuppa while waiting though and chatted with the other drivers waiting to load.

Had got out there the night before too late to load, went to bed early, got up again for my spot on Nightshift, only to have the phone signal fade, so up out of bed and into the cab in the cold to plug it in and still had an issue, but got through it. Rang the still silky voiced John Laws Friday to try and get more drivers involved with the HVNL review and then did a spot on ABC Wagga with my mate, Grant Luhrs Saturday morning about, you guessed it, the HVNL review and winter driving, though winter seems slow to come so far this year.

Just completed my 8 page reply to HVNL issues paper 2 on fatigue. Will check it and send next week-end at this stage and damn, having missed the library, no new audio book to listen to, will do my shopping and off to work. Our tax laws will not allow me to include my shopping I buy to go on the road and lock in our costs whilst on the road, where everything is of course dearer, yet of course, they don’t have to try and live on the road. No answer from tose I have asked to supply a new truck and set of trailers and looks like I did mot win the Lotto, so will have to keep begging. “Never give up and keep asking nicely” is my motto but getting older and frustration is building. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.