Trucks and the media.

Goodaye all. Years ago I was invited to participate in the TV show, “Enough Rope” with Andrew Denton. Now many would of course wonder about the show from the name, are you expected to Hang Yourself, given, “Enough Rope”? They did struggle to get people involved, with many in our industry either previously badly portrayed or misrepresented in what eventually goes to air or newspaper and so reluctant to be hung, yet again.

However I enjoyed the event, found Andrew to be a terrific bloke (and they later did a book on the series, sending me a copy with a signed inscription from Andrew) and the show did portray us to be both human and also I hope, interesting people. I was contacted last week by the Toowoomba Chronicle to comment on a story about the Toowoomba Range, following a major incident there that left the road blocked and traffic clogged for hours. I started off with the proviso that all roads should be driven subject to the conditions of the road and that I did not want to criticise the road authority, but wanted the article to raise a concern towards a better outcome for the future.

Tom, the Toowoomba journalist pretty much stuck to the script, though failed to mention the one specific issue I raised, complaints I have had from A-double drivers of breaking traction on the new steeper bit of road. The Courier Mail, not only went a lot harder, they used photos of myself and the TIV, without ever speaking to me at all. The headline was “Toowoomba Range Dangerous” and by virtue attributed to me, but not words I ever uttered.

No wonder we are wary of making comment. I do not subscribe to the Courier Mail and so cannot, without paying, answer the replies to the story. Some say the same as I did initially, the road should be driven subject to conditions, others were so stupid, saying trucks should be restricted to 10 KPH and imagine the que and stupidity that would ensue, while cars were held up.

For over 12 years, a fellow I once talked to on live radio, who then did a trip with me to see and feel our issues and then spoke to me nearly monthly for that time, allowing me access to his radio audience across three stations as he moved in his career, from Muswellbrook to Deniliquin an then finally, Murray Bridge in SA, talked to me about trucks on the road.

We started off with the Truckies Top Ten Tips (for sharing the road with trucks) and ranged across events and issues with some replies to stories and issues, but mainly, just giving me the chance to give our side. Thank you to Chris Lewis for such long and helpful support and I wish him all the best for his now, off radio life. No one else has come close in my books yet, but two years on the ABC in Early Mornings, two years on Rig Radio from Wagga Wagga and then another two on Overnight Express and now weekly on Yass FM with Mark, will all help to change how we are seen and perceived by the public, when all too often the only press we get is “TRUCK KILLS”.

How do we change this? How do we get a fair go? I wish I knew and could solve that problem along with others in our industry. All I can do is keep trying. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

6th August 2017

Goodaye all. I turned 60 on Friday, another day on the road, another day away from family and something, few others really care about, a truckies life. The public just want their goods available in a shop and or delivered, they do not consider how and when it gets there. That is the job I do, delivering the goods. Life has certainly changed in many ways. My Father worked for the Post Office and many in his day came back from the war and got a job and many worked on in, if not the same job, for the same employer for most of their lives. Our road transport industry really started after the war and I would highly recommend the book, “They Came Like Waves” by Jeffrey Ffrost as an introduction into those early years.

Years ago many truckdrivers came from trucking families and you went for a trip with your Dad, liked the life and carried on into the job. Now with both graduated licenses, insurance issues and the way most people want a job where they can have a family life, not being away living in a truck, getting people into trucking is harder than it has ever been. Many truckies will say to their kids, “If you go anywhere near a truck, I ‘ll kick you that hard you won’t land for a week” as they know how hard a job it can be on family.

So why do I do it you may fairly ask. I got involved when I left school and have been ever since. It has also become my hobby and yet that alone, does not explain that someone must be driving the trucks for all to survive. Even with online shopping, true you may not need to go to a store,  but how will the products get to you? To be made they need ingredients going to a factory or to be made somewhere, they need to be distributed for sale and or delivery and true, that chain may be shrinking, but it is still there and without it, you will starve, have no clothes and no fuel for your car.

Trucks do truly deliver Australia. We have a large country and relatively small population and at one stage, we had 28 different rail gauges in Australia. Only a few years ago did we finally end up with a rail line to Darwin, we have nothing like the fast trains overseas and the rail link from Melbourne to Brisbane is certainly closer that ever before, but still a way off. Rail did have a bad reputation in the past and yet, it can do some jobs better that trucking can, like bulk commodities, but even if you want more general freight on rail, you still need trucks to get it to the rail, then to get it off the rail and then again to deliver it. Which is where trucks do things well.

Trucks carry over 75% of domestic freight, they do it well and yes, there are crashes involving trucks, but from where I sit, the biggest issue is that we do not teach young drivers to share the road with trucks. If the only education they get about trucks is what they learn from video games, will that give them sufficient knowledge to not only make them safe on the road,  but make the road safer for truckies too?

I would welcome your thoughts on education about sharing the road with trucks. How and when should we do it? Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

 

29th July 2018 Clean Rest Areas?

Goodaye all. A truckie has started a Facebook page with the intent of getting our rest areas cleaner and I have been invited to join and just posted the following comment on “The stinkin places transport operators park lets clean up our work place” page.

Goodaye Mark, thanks for the invite. I fully support your intent, both to get all who use rest areas to treat them better and to have those responsible for those sites do the same, though would like to make an initial suggestion and that is the sites name might well gain more involvement and support if it was simply, “Lets Keep our rest areas clean” or similar. Some might not recognise your aim and stop reading before they recognise your intent.
 
I have often written suggesting blokes can pick up a few bits of rubbish while building up air in the morning, but you are right in saying there should be no need for anyone to pick up someone else’s rubbish.
Lack of rest areas, those in any group who abuse them and those in offices who have every facility on every floor, certainly do not really understand or care about our needs on the road. Most truckies, most caravanners and most travellers, we would all hope, carry their rubbish in a bag in the car or truck and dispose of it properly. However the world is changing and less and less seem to care or think of others. In walking along roadsides scoping for green reflector bays, the rubbish that flows from about half hour out of most towns, after people have eaten etc, is truly disgraceful. Keep trying and let us hope we will get an improvement. Cheers Rod Hannifey.
What are your thoughts? I know a few years ago, RMS at one stage threatened to close the Muldoons Rest Areas on the Hume Highway, saying the maintenance cost was too high and we did not design them, nor were we invited to participate, so who’s fault is that cost. In the USA, Virginia closed 18 rest bays, again citing the cost of up keep, yet we are required to comply with fatigue laws and told by people who live in their own bed and if not, live in a damn site more luxury when away from home, than we do on the road.
And now the taxation office wants to halve our meal allowance for living on the road. We are copping it on all sides. What is the solution? Some say advertising in rest areas, some say we just want more, but the money is not there to build one for cars, one for trucks and another for caravanners to free camp in, so where do we turn. My belief is that we need more, that are better designed and built with input from the users and I have asked the National Transport Commission to pursue this with a National Guideline for Truck Rest Areas. They have made a start and soon there will be a call for industry participation towards those guidelines. Will you take part and contribute, do you have a solution or will you sit and whinge? Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

 

23/7/2017 A working week.

Goodaye all. Whilst many truckies do more kilometres than I do and some do less, it has been a busy week. So just to give you an example of a life on the road, this was it. Left home Sunday afternoon to be at Barnawartha by midnight for a timeslot Monday morning. Unloaded there and into Melbourne to load. Arranged to have a new screen fitted for the TRANSTECH EWD and got that done (Thank you to Richard and Jack for the fitting and TRANSTECH as sponsors of the TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle) and made it back to Parkes by 2.30AM to bed.

Tuesday into Dubbo fuel, tea at Bellata roadhouse and off to Chinchilla arriving 11PM. Wednesday, unload there in the morning and then to Brisbane, round the block to get in and then screw the wheels off to get into the yard and load there for a few hours. To the yard and fuel and at 12.45 AM slept at parking bay in the Pilliga.

Thursday off at 8.15 AM to Dubbo to unload, the forky steady and on the phone a bit, then fuel, reload and off again to Brisbane pulling up at the Cunningham rest area just south of Warwick at 12.45 AM again.

Friday into Brisbane for a timeslot, got that one, split the trailers to get into the next drop to find they have moved the receiving spot and you don’t have to split trailers now, thanks a lot, hook up to find the next delivery point closes at 1.30PM on Friday. Back to the yard to get that off, reload to be told I have to wait for a late pickup, then told I will be too late to deliver so now I can go. Arrived Moree at 12.10 AM to unload Saturday to be told I was lucky to get unloaded as no one else wanted to work. Out of there after a cup of tea and a hit to the trailer roof from the forky, new back to forks damn, then to Dubbo to fuel and reload for Monday, have to be on the road by 3PM Sunday for a timeslot in Brisbane and a few minutes to wash the oil off the back of the truck before dark, from the workshop issue earlier in the week. I will get my 24 hours at home, whilst doing this and that, the blog, emails, Audiobooks for the road etc.

Maybe 6000 k for the week and close to my maximum 72 hours work and whilst I love what I do and the hobby part of it as well with my road safety efforts, there is not much time left. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

 

 

14th July 2017.

When I visited the Tomingley Rest Area south of Dubbo a couple of weeks ago, scoping for our video, I could hear a horn blowing for some time. As a car went past tooting the horn, I saw the caravan it was following had the rear rhs tyre in pieces. I left a few minutes later and heard trucks call the van and others comment on the problem. Old mate in the van made it another 20k up the road before finally stopping, still with part of the van on the roadway and tiny bits of the tyre barely keeping the rim off the road. It was probably stuffed as well. Now I did not stop, as he was in a bad spot and there was nowhere for me to park safely, he had also passed another rest area and at least three wide shoulder spots where he could have stopped safely and well off the road.

Now many of us do not react well to horn blowing or light flashing and as he was perhaps travelling a bit slower, he may have thought that was the reason for the actions. However, surely there must come a time when anyone would think, what is the problem if a number of people try to make contact? I would imagine if the window was wound down he should have heard something as I could hear it from 50 metres away when he went past. He could have done much more damage, and even when he stopped, he did not get right off the road.

He would have been up for tyre and rim then, could possibly have caused another incident when the tyre flew apart or by where he did finally stop and if he had a radio, could have been contacted. How do we help such people, do they need more education or could it be, he wasn’t interested in anyone else on the road? I would welcome your views. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

Sharing Rest Areas Video.

Did filming yesterday for sharing rest areas. Thanks to all who took part and helped. Rod Pilon Transport for allowing me the time and flexibility to do all I can towards improving road safety with the TIV. Stephen McCarthy from Whiteline Television who is aiming to set up a new trucking television show and this will be one part of that.
Lance and his Isuzu and van, an ex truckie, who drove all the way from the other side of Melbourne to take part, Chris and Bizzi who drove down from Dubbo with their retro van Chiquita, John and his partner in the Jeep who was a good vanner in helping me to get past them south of Parkes and who, when I called him up on the UHF, agreed to come in and take part, to the other vehicle owners who will appear in the video that were simply on site or drove in and allowed us to include them, to Lindsay Brothers Transport by default, the driver who slept through the whole exercise being in a frig van with the motors running keeping his cargo cold, showed another side.
The aim is to get all, both truckies and vanners to recognise they can help each other by simply having some thought for others when they park up, to vanners in better recognising our needs with logbooks and penalties and the intent, is to give any tired driver, somewhere to park safely. We need MORE and BETTER rest areas for all. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

1st July 2018

Goodaye all. One of our major issues is that the laws under which we operate are made and policed by those who do not have to live by them. I do not know any driver who wants to work 17 hours a day, 7 days a week, but I know a lot who want to do the job and get home safely to a family they see too little of.

They also want to be able to drive when they are fit and to sleep when they are tired and until we all become robots or have autonomous vehicles, each day and each person needs to be able to deal with their day and their fatigue individually. Again, we all recognise there is a need for rules and whilst we are all human, there will be those who will break the rules, for whatever reason or intent they see as pushing them to do so.

As interstate drivers we operate across state borders and both need to recognise the law varies, but we would also like one day to have Australian road rules for all, not different rules in every state. Few others really have to regularly deal with this issue, that crossing an imaginary line on the ground means you can be fined for something that was legal on the other side. I think we have made some improvements, but we all live in one country, not seven.

Even with our national laws and regulations, when changes are put up for comment, how many even get to know of the proposals or changes and how many will then comment or contribute, possibly thinking they will not be listened to or worse, are not confident they can explain in words, a problem they would struggle to explain talking to someone, who does not have to live on the road under those rules.

It is hard to keep track of changes unless you are linked in and then there is the further problem of over supply of information and being able to trawl through it to what you need and or what is important. How do we balance all this?

If you have a solution, let me know, but we must try to make the effort, because if we do not, we will not be heard and we will be given laws and rules that do not make the roads safer, or make our job better, but will convince someone else they have made a difference, even if it makes things worse. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

24th June 2017

Another big week on the road, new drive tyres and a couple of positive comments from drivers. One asking about my TRUCKRIGHT videos, aimed at explaining the aims of TRUCKRIGHT and another after a good discussion from Narrabri to south of Coonabarabran thanking me for the chat. Yet another thanked me for my column in Owner Driver magazine, saying he enjoyed reading it and I told him this is my 16th year, having only missed one column in that time, due to pneumonia. I gave out a number of copies of Owner Driver to customers along the road and some new ones made comments on the truck, one saying, it was the best looking rig he had ever had, come in to load there.

I was offered the chance to write a column after winning the National Professional Driver of the Year in 2001 and have been involved with road safety since 1999. I hope you have seen the video on the NRMA Facebook page, “We share a 10 hour drive”. At my last look it had well over 800,000 views on that page alone and the vast majority of the comments were positive. Let me know what you think.

I am currently trying to line up a few caravanners for a shoot for a television show pilot in a couple of weeks and have just reviewed my weeks audiobooks on the Facebook page, Audiobooks for the road. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

17th June 2017.

I have had a very good media week. The interview I did with ABC Radio National about audiobooks went to air on Wednesday in the Books and Arts show (and will be repeated on Sunday at 2PM in the Books Plus show on RN) I did filming in Melbourne for the ABC TV show Catalyst for an episode on sleep due to air in August and spoke with the local paper about new and improved rest areas on the Golden Highway for the Friday edition.

This on top of having a big week, travelling nearly 6000 kilometres and also managing to spend an hour on the phone with the NHVR re Green Reflector Marking of Informal Truck Bay Funding, time on the phone with the NTC re the current draft of the new Load Restraint Guide, having had a driver bring it and some concerns to my attention and eventually getting home to promote responce to the new code on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and to start this blog.

A couple of good comments on my new Facebook page, “Audiobooks for the Road”, some nice comments from drivers and a couple from customers about the truck and its curtains and messages, along with offered support from another industry magazine to help promote the TIV and its aims. Never give up, is the plan. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey. http://www.truckright.com.au

Welcome to the TRUCKRIGHT blog.

My name is Rod Hannifey and I am an Aussie truckie. My normal run is Dubbo to Melbourne and then to Brisbane and back to Dubbo, so across three states each week, around 4000 kilometres. I am an employed driver working for Rod Pilon Transport, but drive the TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle, which aims to show another side to how truckies are all too often portrayed by the media and then, so perceived by the public.

We have some magnificent looking trucks running up and down Australia’s highways, some promoting tractors, or vineyards or products on their trailer curtains, but none which promoted the road transport industry or road safety. My dream was to see such a vehicle, a working truck, that also tried to show a different side to the job. The photos on the side depict many sizes and types of trucks and includes road safety messages and industry information.

Over the coming months, I want to explain the aims and intents of the TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle (TIV), showcase those who have supported this effort, show you a bit of life on the road and seek support to make the roads we travel on safer for all. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey. http://www.truckright.com.au