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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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17th October 2021. Back on the road week 2.

Goodaye all, it has been a busy week and this will be short as I am now trying to catch up and get ready to hit the road again. Living in a truck is not just taking your logbook and off you go. You need clothes and food and tools and every time, particularly when you only plan to be in it for a short time, say a few weeks, you get what you think is all you need, there is always something else you “might need”. Then you can’t do it all in one hit unless you make a list and some jobs need more stuff again.

But that is life on the road. I even had to supply a curtain as the last driver either removed them or didn’t need them as it was used locally in Sydney for a while. But if you have to sleep in it, you can’t even get changed, let alone sleep in the lights during the day, or depending where you sleep, the lights from other vehicles. Just another issue to deal with.

I left without audiobooks to keep me occupied, then found my library membership had expired and had to ring and sort that and now find the stereo the truck in the day, is not the best for audiobooks, Ok for music but I prefer windows open rather than aircon, so more to sort to be happy and comfortable in my new interim home.

I have not taken my frig, simply another heavy thing to fit and deal with, so have been living on stuff that does not need refrigeration and it is not as easy. For the first time I have tried Beef Jerky, a friend gave me some and where I used to eat lollies and chocolate, not all day of course, but when you need that pick me up, I have tried the Nile River Mild Chilly and Heated Garlic and they do lift your taste buds and your spirit. My old favourite anzac biscuits and Coles Raisin and Oat cookies have kept me fed, but I look forward to simply having more options when you have a frig.

Thanks to those who have made the effort to join an association and I did get a reply from a couple of people in associations and have asked them to push our 6 point plan. There will be a 7th point dealing with loading delays etc and specifically DCs, but that will follow on from our survey. We need some input to have some data to show an issue and will then formulate a plan to try and address it. Yes it is yet another of the twenty year problems and if you can fix it tomorrow, we will all be thankful, but if you can’t then make the effort to help us try. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.  

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10th October 2021 Back on the road again and a request.

Goodaye all, back on the road again. Whilst off, I became enamoured of the “Assassins Apprentice” series of books by Robin Hobb. I had read all the “Rangers Apprentice” and “Brotherband” series by Australian author John Flanagan and recommend them for kids and adults. So into book 5 “The Golden Fool” and took it and was barely able to keep up with my diary and so did not even get to read a word. So much for a gentle return.

Now if I was to detail the issues, all of you who drive trucks would say, just a usual week, but others may not be aware of the life we lead, so they can have food, fuel and clothes etc. I was obviously dreaming when I had hoped to have the truck and trailers I was to drive (till the new truck finally gets here) in the yard early so I could go over them and give them a tidy up if needed. In the end I had to go to Sydney to pick up the truck, that then involved some issues before I even started it up. Then there was the other truck which had left before me and he had a problem, with more that just mechanical issues, some of understanding and language as well.

So, “Rod will you please go out and see what the problem is and report please”? on my way back to Dubbo. It turned out to be the gearbox, but was not immediately obvious and we ended up having to drop one trailer, bring the truck back down the (big) hill and then tow the other truck up to the top, go back and hook up and go to Dubbo.

Seeing us in the dark (I had triangles out) and had just given me new shoulder a good workout winding down the legs and had unhooked the hoses and lights to tow the broken down one to the top, I saw some blue and red lights behind us. I went back to explain and was asked why were we in the dark and where was my mask? So I explained and thought, they might stay with their lights on while we moved at least one bit, but no, “Don’t be long” and they were gone. I was perhaps a bit jabbery, but was trying to get it done as we were only inches off the road and not in the best spot.

Then I had a plan to have all day Monday to get my gear together, get a few things tidied up on the truck and trailers Tuesday morning (due to the NSW public holiday), but got a text apologising for interrupting me, but could I call. One of the drivers wife had been taken to hospital and I may be needed tomorrow, could I help? She may be OK, but will know in the morning. Yes I can go if needed, Thanks.

Nine AM Sunday, you’re up. I had a timeslot to load, got most of my gear and by ten was on my way got my next covid test, did shopping, gear in and on the way to break down half way there. Mechanic came out, sorted, rang the loading point again to say I was now on the way and when I got there, they said “You will get a good nights sleep in here, we will even turn the lights off”. I was the last truck to load Sunday and whilst they were not impressed, they were fans and like many during the week wanted to know what I had done wrong, was I being punished, where was the TIV etc?

That was the start of the week and it never got much better. You all know how things change and no one else customers etc, care about your time as much as you do. I had to deliver another driver to pick up a truck and he did not want to sit in the passenger seat while I slept, as I had to do a delivery first (geez Peter, I am not that bad company am I) so we compromised and I had tea and a shower and went back to the truck to sleep, leaving early the next morning and that threw me out a bit later that night.

Again, it was not the week from hell, it was just a normal week nearly, but as the first week back after 6 months off and aiming to be gentle on my new shoulder, some of the steel gates have tested it, but some places did help or did so when I asked, but some like always, you do it all on your own and hurry up without even a please, let alone a thank you.

So three states, many passes, tests and highways covered, very nearly 5000k, so kept going and just 24 hours off and back into it tomorrow. Lucky I love this job! Still so much to do, the Newell hasn’t got much better overall, we lost 20 unmarked informal truck spaces with the work towards Goondiwindi and now they have closed the southbound More pads with gates. The Pacific still needs a changeover bay somewhere, yet the new Grafton bypass looks a million dollar road, does have two big new parking bays (and I slept in one) and I only found one bad dip.

The new TIV is still coming, is painted and getting radios, a turntable, central tyre inflation and one or two more things and then off to Brissie for the balance. Maybe on the road in a month.

So now for the video. I heard the other day there are over 200,000 truck drivers in Australia, but I bet less than 10,000 are in associations. I will ask all of you for two things and want you to comment, either tell me how to do it better, or what I am doing wrong. If you join one for one year, then I want you to push them to support our 6 point plan. If you have the solution, let’s hear it. If not give this a try for one year. I don’t think it is too much to ask. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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26th September 2021 CATCHING UP.

Goodaye all. This is my catch up for my Facebook page “Audiobooks for the road”. I though I may as well put it up here as well. Being off the road has meant no need for audio books and whilst I have been reading, it is not the same, perhaps better with the time, but on the road, I miss my reading. I read all the industry press and much online from overseas, again about industry to keep in the loop and this of course takes a lot of time and leaves little time for reading for enjoyment, but my audio book page and the reviews of what I have read was enjoyed by some and has been very quiet while I was off.

Many of you as drivers will still have been on the road. If all goes to plan, I will be back on the road after next week-end in a brown Pilon’s Kenworth till the new TIV prime mover comes in about 3 or 4 weeks. They say good things come to those who wait and it has been a long and busy one.
My shoulder surgery went well, they say full bicep strength, (though they could only attach it so far up as it had shrunk) in 9 months, so December, but I can only expect perhaps 90% maximum. Full shoulder strength will take 12 months and again, perhaps even 95%. So the sleeping in a sling was the worst, but since out of that and exercises starting at half a kilo and now all done as far as can be with a clearance due next week, I thank the doctor for at this stage, a terrific job. Once back at work will see how effective the repairs.

So I have not been reading audio books (and watched very little television until even last week, too much other stuff to do. However I love my reading, and completed the Assassin’s Apprentice series by Robin Hobb and have now gone onto the Tawny Man series of three and bought all six, so then onto the next as well. I did get a good deal on the sets of three and am into book two. I finished “Fools Errand”, now 10 years plus on from the last book and am half way through “The Golden Fool”. The praise for these books form others is well justified from my viewpoint. They are engrossing, interesting and read very well.

Those of you who followed past posts will know of my appreciation of the “Rangers Apprentice” series and I must say, I have enjoyed these new ones as much if not more. It has been my practice to read (listen to) audio books on the road, but then to physically read at night, both for pleasure and as my sleep trigger. In this job the hours and where you are varies so much, it can sometimes be hard to get to sleep. So I did some investigation and reading was one suggestion to virtually set your mind into sleep time.

If I have plenty of time, then I can read and enjoy, but if I need to get my beauty sleep but have little s[pare time and can’t afford to waste or lose good sleep time, I read as my “It is time to sleep now” trigger. Sometimes I will barely read a page and be nodding off, other times it is a bit longer, but as someone who has loved reading most of my life, it works for me. So once back on the road, I will have the following books in the series to keep me going for quite awhile.

I just wanted to touch base, hope you have all kept safe and apologize for not being there for you. Those who have enjoyed the reviews and comments, I hope that will continue into the future. Hopefully, till next week plus, I wish you Safe Travelling till then. Rod Hannifey CF

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15th September 2021

Goodaye all. The new TIV (prime mover at least) is real, I have even seen a photo. It has been a long time coming and I am itching to get it on the road. However, there is much more to add once it is painted, which will hopefully be completed this week. Then it has to travel and get more stuff fitted, so maybe a month from now.

I hope to be on the road next month in a fill in truck, will have a refurbed set of trailers till the new ones come next year, but so much still to do. Last week I was the only truckie (let alone the only industry person) in a phone hook-up for NSW Regional Telecommunications. I imagine many of you will agree mobile service has gone backwards recently, from no drop-outs from Brisbane to Melbourne, to now I can’t even go ten k north of Dubbo without losing signal. But I put our issues forward.

Then in a meeting with Healthy Heads in Trucks and Sheds. They are looking to be involved with the design and implementation of a Gold Standard truck rest area. We do have guidelines, but no government requirement to implement one spot, let alone anywhere near the number we need. The intent is worthwhile, but even if they could get some support, for example from a major fuel company to build such a site, not only is it going to be hard, it could be 18 months or more before such a site would be built. In that time, we could have a thousand green reflector bays, or some of them and some current bays expanded and or improved and maybe a few good bays under construction. We could save a life or at the least, prevent a fatigue crash.

I suggested this and have offered to give a week to audit and put up some green reflectors on the Pacific highway,  but there are of course, some minor issues with that idea. The most urgent need I see and am told, (and did put forward as well) is a changeover facility at Clybucca. The old servo is sitting there and whilst I asked, wrote, emailed and nearly begged RMS to do something as they rebuilt the road, you can see they gave that the same importance as any truck bays, none.

I have been involved in weekly meetings with DOT Victoria, again trying to get them to understand the problems, but they too are hamstrung by those above them who do make the rules etc, but who do not live on the road. We can but try.

The NRFA 6 point plan as put up last blog, has been refined slightly and sent to all pollies and others. We do hope it will gain some support and of course, I have sent it to each of the groups involved above.

In responce to my letter to the Police Commissioners of Australia, I have had a direct reply from the NT Police Commissioner. He virtually said, “We don’t have those problems here”, short and succinct and probably right.

I spoke with both the NSW Police Taskforce last week and the Qld Police Taskforce this week, each contacting me in response to the letter. In summary, both I spoke with as leaders of those groups said, they do have some empathy for us, (the Qld fellow having come from a transport family), but overall, you can’t ask them to allow tolerances against a law. That would be like saying, there is a law but don’t police it too hard. Both agree there is discretion, it should be used where the offence is minor and or non-road safety related, but they too, do not have control of even all their own officers once on the road, let alone all the other Police in their state.

Both again spoke of truckies who have made their own noose, by behaving like a pork chop to start with. The Qld gent quoted an instance where an employer had put in a complaint after a truckie was pinged. With it all video-taped and available, he did review it and found the truckie had been let off other offences and virtually, given the least damaging. More than a fair dealing for both, truckie and officer, yet the truckie did not tell the employer the truth.

I am sure many of you know of the bloke who has been pinged, in theory unfairly, yet were you there and did you get the full story? We too as truckies, have to do the right thing, the same as the Police, but neither group can guarantee, let alone confirm all others do that. So where to from here?

Both Police I spoke with say if we want change, it must be the laws that change. I did explain I am certainly following that path as well with contributions to the HVNL review and Senate inquiry, but the review is still months away from release and we all know such change will take years if it happens at all. I took part and had some specific recommendations put forward for the National Road Safety Inquiry in 2003 and even now, not one of them was actioned, so you will I hope, excuse both my cynicism and lack of patience.

I will now again, target the NHVR, seeking their support for change, their efforts in making that happen and as an interim, I again request, with the information and replies I have had from those closely involved from both sides, the only way for immediate fairness, is for any fines issued by Police under the HVNL, be reviewed by NHVR before being actioned. If any of you have a better solution, I am happy to hear it, If not I welcome your comments and support to see it happen. Till next blog, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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29th August 2021 These troubled times.

Goodaye all, what a week and the next will be very interesting. How are we supposed to keep up when not only do they move the goalposts, they move the bloody field as well. Who makes such decisions without consultation and speaking to the one group most affected, whether it is the Qld border issue, “You need a jab to come in, does it apply to truckies, were not sure we’ll get back to you, no it doesn’t” so why did you scare the life out of many, just for fun!!!

We have complained about Police interpretation of laws and look what happens, some Police decide to interpret the law, that truckstops are restaurants, so we can’t use them and when we fight back, they then close the lot, only to find, “They are wrong!!!” Who will be held accountable and I have asked Glen Sterle and his office this specific question? How can they either individually or then the whole force, go against a National decision made when this happened the first time, that we might be close to human and need a feed, shower, toilet or sit down meal, to be able to keep delivering every single thing they use???????????????????

So much for truckies general health, let alone their mental well-being on the road. We are already being treated like lepers, allowed to carry companies freight so they can make a profit, but not allowed to use their toilets. No wonder people think we want to block the roads, there is without doubt, a lot of concern, frustration and genuine pain and suffering doing the job now, let alone these groups overriding national rules that might just allow us to survive, so we can keep carrying this country.

Then this group of Facebook warriors claims we are all in “it” we are going to block the roads and overthrow the government, but did one of you hear which of our problems they plan to solve, or how, or even a whisper that will even think of us, once they rope the few in and then blame the failure on us? Everything I have seen and heard so far, say this is a group that plan to use us, not to help us at all. And yes, many people say they are behind “us”, but will this blocking the roads actually solve one of our issues, let alone fix them all? NO IT WON’T.

There was the strike affecting Toll drivers, a completely separate issue and now another group of truckies have got to the end of their tether and started another stoppage tomorrow. As above, I have not heard any solutions, but recognise the frustration.

If we could agree on six problems and provide six solutions (remember the government do not even know what the problems are, they don’t live on the road and unless they are saying we are important to show “they care”, I fear they don’t care at all), this would be my list.

  1. We are happy to do our part and be tested every 7 days, nothing less is necessary or fair on us, unless they provide numerous 24/7 testing centres in places we can all access. This must include sites where we can get vaccinations. We were left out from the essential list for so long and it will take time to catch up and trying to keep working, get tested every three days and still have to book and que weeks in advance and lose more time and pay to get vaccinated is not only unjust, but unworkable for some.
  2. We will apply for and carry a national freight permit if required, valid in every state and for a minimum period of 14 days. The states must abide by this, there will be no rule or border changes without industry consultation and without less than two weeks notice.
  3. As now, truckstops must be allowed to operate, we must have access to toilets, showers and facilities if you want us to continue carrying your needs and not get sick or tired trying to comply with multitudes of different rules each day. No facility can refuse us access to a toilet, we will happily wipe down a seat before and after use. If refused or they fail to provide us with such facilities (as they must do under law for their staff) they should be fined. How many of you do not have access to a toilet? Do you really want us to pee and poo in your garden?
  4. There must be a moratorium on non road safety related logbook fines. We are not lawless or above the law, but any fines issued by Police under the HVNL, must be reviewed by NHVR before they will be actioned. We do hope the HVNL review will affect some of these concerns, but it will not solve this for many months and we cannot continue being fined for clerical and minor time errors. The cost to the community of us fighting such onerous fines for little more than a mistake, is not only a waste of taxpayers money, it is not in any way, fair justice.
  5. We require a national road standard, the road to be accepted as our workplace, major crashes investigated and not simply the driver charged first and last. Roads and road repairs must meet that standard or be repaired to that standard within an agreed time frame.
  6. There must be a national truck rest area strategy to provide suitable and sufficient truck rest areas. This to improve our safety and that of other road users, to improve our ability to get good quality sleep as and when needed. In relation to drivers and sleep, there must be consultation on reasonable size sleeper berths. Not more freight, but better places to live and sleep in when on the road.

The above to be done with reference to a panel of road safety, road authority and truck representatives, this will include some of the trucking associations and some drivers and owner drivers and be set up immediately to provide input and fairness.

The top four items are achievable, reasonable and will provide some balance and consistency to allow us to do our job and deliver the needs of the Australian people and will cost the government no upfront cash, but will make trucking safer and fairer.

The last two can be set in motion, the roads will take time and we accept that, but it must be started and committed to and will save lives and money in the future if done properly. The last will take time, but can be done in a cheap interim way, whilst the longer term plan is set up and rolled out.

I don’t think any of this is too much to ask and if we don’t get a fair go, many will go broke and lose all and if not, there will be not only more unrest, there will be tragedies on the road caused by people trying to comply and yet stay safe, fit and capable of doing this job.

I would welcome your views. Thanks Rod.

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21st August 2021, what a covid mess looks like.

Goodaye all. How many of you live in Australia? Oh sorry, that’s right, we don’t, we live in separate states, yet expect road transport, which not only carries the nation, but delivers it too, to operate with both hands tied behind their backs. Oh yes, when there is no toilet paper on the shelf, we are essential, but why can’t people see it goes so far beyond that. Then again, oh yes, we will finally after having to beg, make you essential so you might be able to get the jab, but we want you to keep working and supplying everything for us, but don’t mind if we make it as hard as possible, change the rules every couple of days, put out statements where people then get told they don’t have a job if you don’t have a jab yet, but where the hell do you find the time and place to park your b-double while you are trying to survive, do tests every three days, and keep carrying the country????????????????????????

How can anyone in government expect our respect, when they treat us as less than second class, change the rules like they change their minds and have people freaking out, because they did not think it through, did not talk to us and did not explain and or give it some thought as to how it would affect someone living in a truck, before scaring and by default blaming us, when all we have done is keep doing the bloody magnificent job we do everyday?

We know there is a virus, we are not all perfect, but human like you and we are trying. Yes there are a few who tried to get across a border, but most have not only gone out of their way to comply, they have bee vilified, told they can’t use toilets and now again, no you can’t eat or shower in a truckstop. Where the hell are we supposed to do it then and how the hell are we supposed to stay fit, healthy, not drive tired, when you keep screwing us over?

No wonder truckies are getting upset. But blocking the highways is not the answer. You will simply be bulldozed off and fined (now that’s a bit of a shock isn’t it?) just like we get fined for everything else, far too much of which has nothing whatsoever to do with road safety. NONE OF US GOES TO WORK TO HAVE A CRASH, TO TAKE A LIFE, LET ALONE ENDANGER OUR OWN AND OR OUR ABILITY TO FEEED OUR FAMILIES THAT WE SEE TOO LITTLE OF, yet that is too often how we are portrayed and treated.

I have said the same thing for many years, if we want things to change, we have to agree what the problems are, offer the government the solutions (because they don’t have a clue what the problems are to start with) and do so as a united group. If all the different sectors (and few other industries have so many groups and beyond that, we are all in trucks from one end of the country to the other, trying to do our job and deliver everything to everyone every day) so how can we meet, agree and present that solution?

I have been in some meetings, raised these issues and each of the state groups and industry associations have done what they can, but few drivers are in associations and so how can those associations truly represent the drivers on the road? And those drivers on the road, don’t have the time, the resources, the money or the ability to get together and agree either. So how do we fix it?

I would like to hear your solutions, because I am getting older and whilst I have not given up, I think we are going backwards in some ways. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.  

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August/ 7th July 2021.

It seems I did not post this up, I will find an excuse later, but add it here as it is still so relevant. Cheers Rod.

Goodaye all. How can we ever get a fair go, when we can’t even get a standard border pass and or protocol for state borders now. We explained what the issue is, we can’t all carry another forest worth of permits for each state each week, nor can we comply when you change things overnight.

You know we will do our best to comply, you know we can’t afford hours and hours of delays at borders, yet what has been done to solve this, nothing? If the pollies ran out of toilet paper, maybe then we would get some action and common sense if both formulating, applying and managing such things would get them a clean bum?

Truck lanes at borders will cost nothing, will help flow and give us a chance to deliver that paper and everything else. The states all want to be different, they want to maintain their power base, we understand all that, but why would you make things that much harder to cross borders when we supposedly all live in Australia?

We have come some way to having national transport rules, some will say we still have a long way to go, but at least now we have two sets of rules, one for the east with NHVR and one for the west and north, better than 7 sets.

So then we have the issues of lack of rest areas and even with the Pacific Highway, with millions spent improving it, there was no provision for a change over facility included. We are pushed to be compliant, we struggle to get drivers due to lack of facilities etc and when we set things up so a driver can get in a loaded truck, drive to the half way point, change trucks or trailers, then drive home and have another local driver unload and reload for the next night, so the interstate driver is home in his own bed each day, we need places to change the trucks and or trailers.

We waited 30 years to get one on the Hume at Tarcutta and we needed one 15 years ago on the Pacific, but now it is all four lanes and truly, probably the one of if not the best road in Australia, there is not enough rest areas and no where set up for changeovers. How can this be so? Are we truly that less of a group of workers, that we don’t need toilets or places to sleep or comply than any other working group?

Back to the Churchill Fellowship videos. Now for those of you who enjoy watching trucks go round and round, or spinning up tyres and doing burnouts, this may be something you enjoy. It is not everyday you see prime movers towing caravans with only one intent, but it seems the Poms have a funny sense of humour.

Now I am not making any comments other than, it is a truckshow and such things seem to be enjoyed by the crowds, I had even heard of it before I visited the Convoy in the Park, so it seems they have done it before, but please do not take offence if you are a vanner. I didn’t do it! Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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13th August 2021 Catch up time.

Goodaye all and thanks to all who wished me happy birthday for Wednesday the 4th, just turned 64. I have been slack and hope you will keep faith with me. It is much harder to be relevant when not on the road, but I have kept up with news, events and hear from many still doing the job. I have certainly had more time than normal, but.

I have been trying to do many things and have been at work doing office duty Monday, Wednesday and Friday, was doing physio each Tuesday and Thursday but have now completed the early part of treatment and continue with my twice daily exercises and physio visits once a fortnight.

The surgeon did ring and have a phone hook-up, says he would like to see me once more before Christmas to confirm and feel, all is well. The excellent lady doing the physio reported to him on my progress and last week said my strength is coming back well. The surgeon says the bicep will be to full strength in nine months, (or at least the most it will return to, as it could not be attached all the way up as they shrink once torn off, if left too long) hopefully 85 to 90% of what it was before, but the shoulder will take 12 months to heal to full capacity.

I had to do a medical for my Dangerous Goods License and being over 61, my two year one for my normal MC NSW license and our yearly Trucksafe medical. No one needs or should have to do three medicals in one year and each will now accept the others, as long as they are within 6 months. That is at least a common sense outcome, but it cost $400. I passed and have submitted all the paperwork, to work, EPA and RMS and had to follow up with RMS to make sure they got a copy.

Then I had to get the next extension for my Capacity to work and the doctor I saw, said I wasn’t 20 anymore and should be more careful. Thanks doc. I have been feeling good and am chomping at the bit to get the new truck on the road and back into it. It is built, but a few issues have delayed it, but hope to have them sorted and on the road soon. I spent time on the phone yesterday sorting the new bullbar and lighting to go on it, so it should look good when it hits the road.

There are many supporters and suppliers who are contributing to the new TIV and once it is on the road, there will be further changes. We are seeking a few new things, both to see how they work, but to trial them in a working truck, not just to fit them and walk away, but to do some serious trials for fuel consumption, tyre wear and application and of course, to have something that is right up there with the current technologies and report all this back to those who have and will supply the equipment.

It is one thing to put something on a truck and forget about it, that will not support a case for improvement, you have to test things under real world environments to confirm, or deny, that they work and can supply something better and that it will last. Much of the technology on trucks is hidden, you don’t really see it and even more, if often works without fanfare or obvious impact. The truck travels along and gets the job done, yet all these things behind the scenes can and do both contribute and improve driver safety.

We are all human, we make mistakes. I don’t think AI is better, nor do I think it is anywhere near ready to take over, but if it is set up and operates to help us, then it can do just that. Our roads are not all perfect either, but they are built, designed, repaired and costed by humans, so there are many factors involved in how well they do their job. I have said before we have a large country and area, but a relatively small population, so we simply don’t have a bottomless pit of money to have perfect roads.

But we must get good value, safety and longevity from these assets that we all pay for and they do provide us with the ability to travel, for business and pleasure. There are certainly times when I travel, (really bump and grind down the road thinking, this is not good enough) or think about the issue, are we getting good value and for someone who lives and works on the road, there are times I am certain, we are not. I am not a road engineer, but I have to live with the results and at times, it seems we build at the cheapest cost, yet don’t consider the long term and how then if done badly or to a lesser standard at the start, that the ongoing maintenance will cost far more over the life of the road, let alone will that cheap fix, when it does fail or deform, cost someone their life?

The road is still not recognised as our workplace, if it was, it would have to meet all manner of laws, to keep me and you safe. Those who use and or share it would have to be trained better and governments could suddenly be liable for damages and even deaths and sued accordingly, if they failed to provide us with that “Safe Place of Work”. And that is a can of worms all governments don’t want opened up.

So to finish off, how many of you would agree that if the road is my workplace, it should be built and maintained to the highest possible safety. It is your goods, your clothes, food, fuel, your manufactured products or the supplies you need to make them we are delivering and it is true, TRUCKS DELIVER AUSTRALIA. I would welcome your comments. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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30th July 2021 Covid, trucking and safety.

Goodaye all. To those drivers suffering under covid permits, forms and frustration, I say surely by now, you would think we would have a national plan. We have been told we are essential, (until we need a toilet, then we are a pest to be ignored or told, go somewhere else) we have been then forgotten again, till the next lockdown and people emptied the shelves.

They did not need to of course, but it is a new world we all live in and those people who have been locked at home and or don’t have a job, are and will be suffering for some time to come. We however have been asked to fill in multitudes of forms, permits, carry letters, get tested, then get tested more, then get tested even more again.

I am no disease expert, I am not a health expert, but I do understand trucks and this is where, my mate “The Interstater” and I do agree whole heartedly. Too many who use our services and the majority of those who control them from afar and even worse, every person who simply thinks milk (for example but this applies to every thing and commodity) just falls out of the sky by magic every morning and appears in the shop, do not understand this trucking life.

They have no idea what we give up to see them have their milk etc, etc. Yes it is a job many have chosen, some have fallen into by default, through family business etc, others thought it must be a good job, until they tried it. I have just read another article about the driver shortage in the USA and England seems to be even worse off currently. How many jobs or industries have a turnover rate (so the percentage of employees who they have to replace each year, not new ones, just the existing workforce) of 90% or higher as in the USA?

Now we all know the grass is greener on the other side, they earn more, get better conditions, get extra benefits until of course, you leave your current job and go to work there and it is not as you were told, or thought you had spent all that time checking into. Once you get there, you find it is no better and sometimes even worse, than where you were before. You might have found after awhile, you did not like the boss, or the mechanic or the truck or the location, so you look around for a change or something better.

People are funny aren’t they? But to have every single employee leave in a year is not so critical perhaps if you have two, but what if you employ 1000, or more? This driver shortage has been discussed, disputed, argued over as a beat up and talked about in the USA for years and here too, but not to the same extent. We know the average age of a b-double driver here is nearing 60 and it has only just been confirmed that according to the CEO of the NHVR in his latest industry post, the freight task in Australia is growing faster than the population, perhaps twice as fast and the task here is the 5th largest in the world.

So we might need some more truckies soon, unless of course they can perfect driverless trucks? Till then all we are really asking is a fair go, decent facilities to manage our fatigue and a decent income for the life we live on the road and what we and or families give up, so others can have those things they wish to buy.

In the USA, they had a campaign, “If you don’t want trucks on the road, stop buying stuff” and in the UK when I was there, they had a t-shirt, “If it wasn’t for trucks, you would be cold, naked and hungry” so not only here in Australia, do we struggle to get our message across to those who make the decisions. How do we change that? Many have tried, but it hasn’t changed things enough.

We are not perfect, we make mistakes, but for all my contacts and mates in the industry, we go to work to feed our families and to get home safe each trip. Is that enough reason to ignore our needs, which are the same as most peoples’? I wish I had the answers, or someone did. But I am still keen enough to set up another TIV and commit to that for the next five years. Many are contributing and supplying product and or support etc and I thank them all and will do my bets to not only give them a return on that investment, I hope to save a life or two. When I started all this, I said, “The worst that can happen, is that no one listens, nothing changes and I simply put in a lot of effort and time and money, but if one motorists sees the Truckies Top Ten Tips, one rest area gets built or improved or a truckie uses the green reflector bay when tired, or I get a bit of road fixed and that prevents a crash or a death, then all my efforts, will have been worthwhile.”

I may save one life, I will most likely never know of that or any others, but you must have a purpose and a goal, for you have far too much time on the road thinking and driving for others who will risk your life, thinking of the family you are away from and hoping to get home safely for yet another trip. Please think the same each time you go out on the road and maybe, we will all get home safe. Till next time, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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18th July Number 2

Goodaye all, sorry for the gap, I had the last one already for last week and the videos would not load, then I got sidetracked just a bit. Much has happened and the ramping up of testing and the lowering of how we are treated in some places, seems to show the bad and then the worst.

I was though invited into a phone hook up Friday, but when first asked, I was led to believe the changes were specifically for Syd/Melb runners, due to the Sydney issue and then the removalists too. However, at the meeting when I asked about Bris/Melb runners, they said “Don’t you go through Sydney?” and some do, but not all. I explained we go through Dubbo, but was then told all of NSW was now considered a hotspot.

So prior to midnight Friday, there was to be details and explanations provided, with the requirement for testing every three days for those truckies entering Victoria. Now there are always two sides to a story. It was emphatically stated and agreed, we as an industry have done a good job, we have not been involved with spreading the virus and have continued to do our jobs. But, they know how many trucks cross the border each night and they are all meant to have permits, yes they are onerous and take time and effort, but that has been why we have had a reasonable run, till they counted the permits issued against the number of trucks.

It would seem, even if you take into account those who may run up and down each night with the permits done as needed, there are far too many not doing that at all. So what do the government do, they say, enough! Now SA has gone even further requiring testing every two days and I do think that is not only difficult without the facilities and the time involved, it is nearly impossible for some.

What can we do? We can get our permits and do our testing and hope that this two week set up with Victoria shows we are not the problem they perceive we might be and it may well revert to the previous set up, but we will have to ensure we keep up our end. Without testing available on the highway and 24 hours a day, how can you get it done without not only impacting your fatigue, but be able to get the job done?

They will not be calling every truck in, this is a soft closure, but if you are caught not complying and can be shown to have had the chance, but could not be bothered, the future may look much worse. Please make the effort, but if you try and cannot comply, then we must have reasons why. Please let me know if you have troubles getting tested, they are saying you will be able to at Kalkallo inbound and Broadford outbound. Now using the weighbridge won’t affect us, but if they take the Kalkallo pads and parking away, that could be a problem.

Similarly, I have had complaints about the loss of parking at Chiltern, and did contact those involved with the meeting and the VTA. This was the reply from the DOT Victoria,

The Chiltern rest area checkpoint is used on a sporadic basis by VicPol and was established at VicPol’s direction approx. 10 days ago.  Its used for light vehicle checks and, as far as I know, not for freight, but we recognise that this does impact on the freight industry as it reduces the number of rest stops available to manage fatigue.  Even when the site is not operational (approx. 3 days a week) the rest area remains closed as we have been asked by VicPol to keep the checkpoint infrastructure in place as they reserve the right to activate it at short notice.

I have replied just now and we will see. The next issue is again, being refused access to toilets etc. Would you all agree, you would be happy to wipe toilets seats before and after use with wipes being provided, rather than told, “You can’t use our toilets”? I do not condone actions that will make things worse, but imagine if pollies in Parliament House and Police on the road were refused access to toilets? I can’t solve the problems, but I do care and will keep trying. Safe Travelling, Rod