18th June 2018 Short and sweet at it has been an even bigger k week.

Goodaye all, much to do and too little time to do it. A near 6,000 kilometre week ranging from Dubbo to Brisbane to Maryborough in Western Victoria, then to Melbourne back through Dubbo to Jandowae, then Brisbane and Wee Waa on the way home.

Nearly at my delivery point in Maryborough and the road was closed. In a b-double simply going ahead can lead to much pain and financial loss, so whilst contemplating where to go, I saw a car stop and there was a UHF aerial visible. I had been on the phone to eldest daughter and turned the radio back on to be asked, “Are you right there in the Pilons’?” Not really, was my reply. “Where do you want to go?” Johnson Street, “All good just follow me, I live in here as well and the roadworks can be a bugger”.

The gentleman got me round the block and in and I then asked the best way out to Melbourne and he pulled up, we shook hands and he gave me further directions and said he was with the Highway Patrol. Help that was recognised and much appreciated, but I was still thinking on the directions and cannot remember the fellows name, but he went out of his way and “Thanks mate”

Coming back from Jandowae, Dalby has most of the main street currently torn up for improvements. This was one of two wide loads that were due through early, but told to wait by traffic control according to one of the Police escort vehicles. It was bedlam and there was some comment on the UHF, but getting angry and abusing others from a point of anonymity is not all that brave nor of much value. We all have to try and work together more and I hope you will agree.

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I did spend time on the phone with RMS during the week and hope that will bear fruit and did get to send a list of culverts and issues for the Newell from Moree north and there are a couple of doozies there.

Next biggest issue is my Churchill Fellowship trip and much to do to get that sorted. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

11th June 2018 A big week.

Goodaye all. A quick recount of this week.
Saturday evening off to Emerald with a sleep in the Pilliga. Stopped at Miles to complete new headlight set up, Ding another RPT driver, stopped in to check on me as I had the bullbar down, all good and Thanks Mate, then tea and off. Many green reflector bays marked Miles to Roma, with some further north as well, well done. Arrive Emerald 11.30 PM Sunday, 15 plus hous driving time from Dubbo.
Monday morning, in for on site mine delivery and do induction, blow in the tube, clear, pick a blue marble so no drug test required, escorted down into the pit. Some photos while unloading, then in front of the dragline and a cup of tea on the way out.

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Down the road to load some cotton, back into Emerald to load some more, then off to Brisbane. Nearly made it all the way, sleep at Logan Motorway Heathwood, then down to the port to unload Tuesday morning. Back to Lytton to load IBCs (international bulk containers holding up to 1000 litres of product) for Goondiwindi. Visit Cummins to reset DPF problem to get me home, then to Fisher Park Roadhouse just over the top of the Gap for a lovely meal of rissoles, tomato and onion gravy, salad and chips, bread and butter and coffee, beautiful. To bed at Gundi early.
Up for a quick unload at 7.30AM, an even quicker cuppa and on the road to Dubbo. Had my load picked up for me, but still too late to have new DPF fitted, so off from Dubbo at 5.15PM for Melbourne and hope it will last another trip. Listening to State of Origin, ring ahead for a quick tea at the Tiger Moth Cafe Temora, then hear the end of the game and on to Benton’s Hill rest area south of Wodonga and to bed. Since parking bay “improved” camber is now the other way and head lower than feet. Tried that way, as head to drivers side is the norm, but woke early Wednesday and had to change ends. Another issue with parking bays and surely you will agree, you need to be comfortable and familiar to get good sleep. So far, already done a weeks work for many on a 38 hour week.
Up at 9AM and into Melbourne for paperwork and fuel, not far to unload, but have to split the trailers to get in and then fight for my spot in the que. A good blow on the air horns sees the pusher in change his mind. Round the corner to wait, then load more IBCs for Wellcamp for Monday, then patiently crawl out of Melbourne with thousands of others. By the time the current roadworks is completed and with two new towns being built on the northern outskirts now, the traffic will be clogged even further back, what terrific planning!

Met Stephen from Whiteline TV at BP Lavington for a coffee and photo, unusual to have us both in our trucks to meet on the road with our different schedules. Then chatted with him to West Wyalong and to bed just before 1AM. Up and 8, scoff some breakfast and off to Dubbo to drop trailers, fix a gate and wait for a lift home. DPF will be replaced and a seat issue addressed, is the plan.

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Lift home and into the shower, fuel and check the car (Thanks Adam for the loan of the car) to drive to Canberra for tea with eldest daughter (who we hope will take part in “TRUCK That” in the future with stories etc) and Stephen from Whiteline. We had planned to do filming for the June “TRUCK That Australia” episode in Stephen’s studio, using green screen to show even more of his talents and skills. Talk till late sorting plans etc, up Saturday and filmed and played and discussed till 6PM, then into car and back to Dubbo. Thanks to Stephen and Sarah and the boys for your hospitality and efforts.

Home 11PM, up the next morning and off to work to have a new seat problem, more frustration than sense from me, but sorted after some verbal discussion with self and off with youngest son in tow moving north. Lunch together at Bellata and pulled up at Wellcamp to try and have some of this written and catch up on paperwork till 11PM.

Made and received many calls, loaded and unloaded as needed and others will have worked longer and or harder or both, but I still have a lot of catching up to do. The biggest is to sort my upcoming Churchill Fellowship trip. Till next week and sorry for being late. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

2nd June 2018 Join the club!

Goodaye all. There are so many issues to address, it can sometimes be daunting, but if you or I don’t do anything, will it change or improve? The aims of the TRUCK That Australia Drivers Club is to get a sufficient number of drivers involved so that we can say we in some small way, represent those who live and work on the roads of Australia. If we can get at least ten or twenty blokes that run most of the major highways, I do believe we can get more done, than I can alone.

I see a driver made a comment in Owner Driver about coming back to driving fulltime and the changes and even further erosion of rest areas and roadhouses he has encountered. Others I have spoken to during the week ask, “Why would you do this job now?” And it is a very good question. Where boys from drivers families used to spend time with Dad in the truck and learn to love the job, most truckies tell their kids to get a “better” job, knowing the impact it has on a families life.

There is a push to get more women drivers, but we can’t get a toilet for men, let alone one for women in many places and what do they do at a site where they say, sorry you can’t use our toilets? Some roles and places do have such facilities and I mentioned when talking to Luke Bona on “Nightshift” the Vicroads rest areas on the Hume were the best I had seen for size and facilities. Another driver followed up though, saying they do not extend to other Victorian highways.

Luke’s co-host, Jess is getting ready to take her license test and said since being part of the show and listening and talking to many truckies, she has a better understanding of some of our issues, but had not been taught anything in her training for her license, about sharing the road with trucks. She is going to monitor it and let us know if that changes.

I am working on my Churchill Fellowship trip to leave at the end of July and any with road safety contacts in the UK, Canada or the USA, who might be interested in trucking in Australia and who might be interested in helping me to get the most from the trip and offer a contact, would be welcome. Off to work early this week to get part way to Emerald for Monday morning, so short and sweet for now. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

 

27th May 2018 This life we lead.

Goodaye all, I am off to work now having had a different week last week from my usual. Out to the farm to unload, friendly people and nice trucks. Back into Moree and then loaded cotton with no facilities, not even allowed to make a cup of tea and in que for four hours before loading, then to Sydney and treated pretty much the same there.

Made it to Newcastle for the next morning, now a day late, but had to get the roadworks crew to shift witches hats, as I refused to try and drive under a 3m tree and branches when they wanted traffic off the side of the road for resurfacing work. Didn’t sleep all that well, up early to be told, yes you can turn around down the street, not on your life, back to wait to load to be told yours won’t be ready for maybe two hours or more, so back to bed.

This is the life of many drivers. Hurry up and wait. There are now some companies in the USA about to start paying by the hour and some do here. What do you think? How many people go to work expecting to do up to 70 hours a week, but only be paid for 50? Would you? Yes there are issues, but do we want to have drivers in trucks in the future or robots? So many drivers cop a fine for something completely unrelated to actual road safety and then say, bugger this, I can earn more driving a forklift with less stress and no fines and be much safer.

It is good to see rest areas getting a run in the press, but as with all things, it can be good or bad. Those promoting the “fight” between truckies and RVers want to sell press time. Those of us on the road want a fair go for all, somewhere to be able to get good sleep and rest and to be safe on the road and education will get us much further and faster than fighting.

I would welcome your views on how to solve the problem. Please check my website for the RVers Survey, the Truckies on Road Code etc. Channel 18 for RVers is to me, one of the best tools for those with a UHF, and or at least being confident and happy to use it. To those truckies who abuse RVers on the UHF, all that will do is show them what gooses we are. Yes I understand frustration on both sides, but abuse will not get you anywhere.

We need more and suitable rest areas and I have been asking for this for years. As an interim measure, I started the green (previously blue, but Vicroads and WA would not recognise them saying the fireies would get confused) reflector marking of informal truck bays now on 19 years ago. If it has taken me that long to get one major highway done plus parts of four or five others, no wonder it has been such a fight to get good rest areas. I welcome the support of the ATA, NATROAD, CMCA and Caravan Club of Australia and many others, but we have waited too long.

The idea of a summit where we can all work towards the same goals seems worth a try and TRUCK That did seek funding to do the Truckies Top Ten Tips for motorists and the Top Ten Tips for RVers and are still awaiting the answer as we simply can’t do it alone.

Let us hope we can get the government to provide for us at the very least, suitable and safe places to sleep and rest. We will not get what they have, nor have we ever asked for 5 Star facilities, but we need someone to be fair dinkum and get something started now. What do you suggest? Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

 

20th May 2018 Phone calls and messages.

Goodaye all. This weeks calls have been a mixed bunch, but all with a theme of drivers in crisis in one way or another. One driver wanted to chat for 15 minutes and two hours later, after discussing all the industries woes, he explained he is alone and living in the truck after thirty plus years of marriage.

The next was again, concerned about the industry and rates and spoke of being so angry with where his life and business was going, that he made a mistake, but thankfully no damage, only wounded pride. Then there was a call about a driver involved with a suicide and did I know of others, yes, but few want to talk about it and we will as always, get the blame first and the impact will not be recognised nor treated the same, as for others.

Then a message about the “fight” between truckies and caravaners in the west, but no recognition of the issue anywhere else in Australia or any real positives. I have replied offering another view and info and will see if I get a reply.

I spoke of the drivers club to the drivers, one wanting a new union, one wanting us all to stop, others in other discussions simply wanting things to improve, but how do we do it? Did we really get any real improvement from the original blockades? Yes genuine blokes trying to make a difference, but no real change to the life we lead on the road. Others have tried since and my view overall, is that until we all agree (and yes, more chance of me walking to the moon) and put forward a maximum of 6 issues with 6 solutions, we will never get any real change.

For over thirty years we have asked for better roads, more and better rest areas and education of drivers about sharing the road with trucks. Yes there are more things, rates and how they do affect not only our lifestyle, but the ability of owner drivers to compete and make a living and maintain their trucks, but how do you fix that? When I started in road safety over 20 years ago, I knew as an individual driver, I would not have any chance to influence this.

So what do we do and what do I do? We cannot get any real change and I have tried to do so for many years. Do we give up? No of course not. Will the drivers club be a better way or a good start, or simply not get any traction and just be another good idea that fails to achieve any real change? That my friends is up to you.

I will not give in and will keep trying and I would hope at least some of you recognise 20 plus years of effort and whilst some do have some idea of that cost and effort, there are still those who have a problem with what I do and want to, mostly behind my back of course, say I am doing it for me. To them my question has always been, what have you done to get anything improved and more that happy for you to step in and step up. How many of you will join the TRUCK That Australia Drivers Club and help, instead of whinging in truckstops? Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

13th May 2018. A Megaweek.

Goodaye all. By early AM tomorrow, “TRUCK That” May will be on the air at http://www.truckingnation.com.au for your viewing pleasure. It covers Ben Maguire’s trip with me in the TIV and his interview and my attendance at Megatrans and four interviews done there. I would welcome your comments and your sharing it with your friends if you see fit.

As always, without the help of Rod Pilon Transport, I would not be able to attend such events. Thanks also to the Megatrans show organisers for their support. I had initially hoped to take Ben to Brisbane, but with the Public Holiday up there, it meant there was only one way to go, south, if I was going to get three trips in and be at Megatrans, so thanks to all at Pilons for the help with the loads and their ongoing support.

Thanks also to Kenworth for their support and for the posters showing the current range, an excellent promotional piece and give away. The TIV was the only Kenworth on site and I was proud to fly the flag for them. The fellow guiding me out at the end was very impressed, saying this was a real truck and he wanted to drive one like it one day.

After arriving in Melbourne with Ben, I unloaded, reloaded and was back on the road to Dubbo Monday night, unloaded and reloaded in Dubbo Tuesday and back in Melbourne with just enough time to get the truck washed and be the last truck in to Megatrans ontime at 4PM Wednesday. Getting in and onsite proved fairly easy, getting out was a bit tighter and more fun.

Whilst the TIV was washed and clean, any of you involved with trucks will know and recognise, that just getting it washed does not make it ready for a show. To be honest, I could have spent another full day on it, but once on site started on the little bits and the detailing that can take hours and would have loved more time to do a better job, but am happy with how it presented.

A bit of touch up paint, tyre black, tidying all the little bits (sorry no time for polishing anything) and worked till 7PM that night and back onto it again the next morning before the show opened. A couple of people asked was this just a show truck and when I explained it was a fulltime working truck and the truck was 7 years old in July at 1.4 million k and the trailers nearing 10 years old and 2 million k, many commented on how well it looked for what it has done.

The first visitor to the truck when the show opened came up saying he knew I was attending and wanted to shake my hand for the green reflectors, saying he was tired and they had helped him, even though the first three were missing. Everything after that was just a bonus.

I spoke with many exhibitors, including some who are supporters of the TIV, like Tramanco, ANCRA, NHVR and TCA and did interviews for “TRUCK That” with Paul Retter AM, CEO of the NTC and Peter Anderson from the VTA and others. I had a fellow from Boston in the USA compliment me on the truck and its aims and efforts and held discussions with many visitors and exhibitors.

Megatrans was more a coming together of many in the supply chain rather than a truck show, with many exhibitors at one end focusing on cargo handling, forklifts and storage, then into freight movement and control with robotic display in a number of stands. Then there was the data and freight management section flowing into the road transport suppliers section, which included the newly launched in Australia, Diamond Reo brand.

A gentleman near me with a prototype of straps for load binders across the roof of trailers, said he had terrific inquiries and could have sold the truck he was using three times and it would be sold after the show to one of those for sure. Congratulations to the organisers for the aims and intents of Megatrans. There was a Ministerial Breakfast and other major meetings which I was not able to attend to comment on, so cannot say how they were attended, but I am sure we will hear from other press who did.

As I do not go to such events to sell, my aims are different from most and I was happy both with those who visited me and the TIV and those I managed to visit. With “TRUCK That” it also allowed us a terrific platform for the interviews and access to those we would not normally meet on the road. Thanks to those we interviewed for their time and the rest of the attendees we filmed.

I would now like to ask all readers to answer one question for me. What do you see as the biggest problem in road transport. I would like a wide view snapshot, please give me a list if you wish, but for this exercise, pick what you see as the biggest problem from your personal perspective, but make sure to tell me which perspective you are responding from.

If you are a driver, is it the fines, the scrutiny, the lack of rest areas or complete lack of respect for the job we do? Is it pay, the roads or the rules?

If you are a regulator or deal with road transport from a policy or policing aspect, what do you see as the biggest issue?

If you are a motorist, what do you see as the biggest problem, but then I will need to know if you have ever been in a truck. One of the reasons for the TIV to take passengers, is to allow those who may not have the chance, but who may well be in a position to influence our lives on the road to see and feel the issues, not just read about them. All who have done a trip have said, it was very worthwhile to help them better understand some of our issues.

If you have another perspective, please feel free to contribute. I aim to start a short list of target issues and then to tackle them with the best effort I can. Rest areas, split rest and ridiculous fines with no relevance to road safety, are currently at the top of the list, but I would welcome your feedback. Cheers and Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

7th May 2018

GOODAYE all. I have just arrived in Melbourne having brought Ben Maguire along for a trip. Ben is the CEO of the Australian Trucking Assoc and we discussed many of the issues drivers want addressed during the trip down from Dubbo. Rest areas and the need for more and the recognition of the need for decent facilities for drivers was at the top of the list.

I have dealt with the ATA for many years and welcome Ben to the roll and look forward to working with him to achieve some improvements and changes. Ben agrees there is a lot to do and that we have every right to say that not enough has been done thus far to improve the lot of drivers on the road.

The ATA did also contribute to the new truck rest area design guidelines and will support a serious push to see more provided. The ATA does have far more access to those in power than I am likely to achieve and I aim to continue to work with them to achieve improvements for drivers.I will be sending Ben my ideal rest area plan and other pieces for comment and action.

We discussed a number of things we may be able to do together in the future and I thank him for giving me his time and for coming along for a trip in the TIV. He will be asked to fill in the TIV riders form with comments and suggestions and we will see what we can do together.

We stopped at Wagga Wagga on the way down and filmed a TRUCK That interview with Ben and another with Lee Campbell who is trying among other things, to get a truckstop built there and has put quite a lot of effort in to see it happen. Whilst there is a long way to go, nothing will change unless you have a go.

I will be unloading and reloading in Melbourne TODAY for Dubbo, then plan to reload for Melbourne to be here for Wednesday to get the TIV washed and then into MEGATRANS from Thursday till Saturday. if you are planning to attend come and say hello and I will be working on the next TIV and we will be doing some further interviews for TRUCK That for May.Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

28th April 2018 Rest Area Design.

Goodaye all. I have just finished reading the draft document “Guidelines for the Provision of Heavy Vehicle Rest Area Facilities” from ARRB. This study was brought about following my request to the NTC to revisit their 2005 document on the same theme. I contributed to that document, but was unhappy with the way it was produced, showing only one herringbone design, though there was wording describing parallel parking as well and that took months of emails and phone calls and fights, to even get that printed and it has not been looked at since then.

I asked that we needed something both to provide better guidance to those building and designing such sites from those who use them and that it would hopefully ensure we got better outcomes for the future. The biggest problem now, behind the simple lack of sufficient and suitable sites, is that those built now, even with the best of good intent, will be around for the next 20 to 30 years and if they do not provide what we need to get good quality sleep, then we have an even bigger fatigue problem looming in the future.

With the growing number of trucks due to the increasing freight task, driven by the growing number of people, then the simple fact is that with more trucks, cars and caravans, we will need more rest areas for all. Governments are slow to act and even slower to help us, because they of course do not sleep in rest areas on the side of the road. They have toilets on every floor, facilities for heating meals and coffee on every floor and more choices for food in one block, than we might have in 200 kilometres. But have they made much effort in the last 20 years, no.

How many rest areas do you know where a truck can access shade and a toilet. Sorry to test you with two things, I could add tables and chairs and separation from other vehicles, but that would narrow the number down much more. Yet we are tasked to manage our fatigue when someone else tells us to do so, by a book and even worse, by severe penalties should we not do it their way. In the past, yes we may have moved things a bit, because we wanted to drive when we were fit and then sleep when we were tired.

I stopped in Moree one afternoon some years ago. I was out of hours and tried to sleep in 47 degree heat with no shade and how much sleep do you think I got (and no such thing as an Icepack then)? If I had the chance to drive at least till the sun went down or to a suitable rest area (finding shade can be near impossible at times), I would have been safer doing that, but operating illegally. So I stopped and rested sort of and when I could legally leave, I was still buggered. The law has changed and now I cannot legally drive when fatigued and whilst there is as yet not even a working definition of fatigue, let alone a way to measure it, in the near future, there will be devices that can.

Then we have Safe-t-Cam and now the ever expanding National Camera Network monitoring heavy vehicles that will not only take away any minor flexibility I have now and put us not only into tighter boxes, but will punish us even more if we do not do it their way. Next is EWDs again taking away any flexibility what so ever and watching me to the minute and the metre. So if I have driven for the last 40 years without an accident, managed my fatigue safely and this is rarely recognised, I just can’t change that now, because someone else thinks they know better than me when I am tired.

And if I do not have a suitable rest area that provides shade and a toilet, how will I get that needed sleep? Yes we have Icepacks and other systems to try and improve temperature control, but not everyone does and then there are those in frig vans  with motors to keep the goods cold and also stockcrates with live animals and their drivers need good sleep too, but I am not used to that noise and if I pull up in good faith and a frig truck or stockcrate driver pulls up beside me as he has nowhere else to go, who do I tell who cares about my sleep and health?

Then we have the growing RV population of baby boomers and others who want to travel and keep their costs down so they can spend more time on the road and some will use a truck bay. That in itself sounds OK, we do not want tired RVers on the road either, but they have more choices than we do and will not get a $600 fine if they cannot pull up when legally required.

I am hoping ARRB and the NTC will seek some more input from other users as the more comments, hopefully the better the outcome. I have lodged a number of issues in my initial reply and did get a chance at the start, so some of the work is a welcome step forward, but if you look at my efforts now of over 19 years to get bits of dirt marked with now green reflectors and the only highway completed is the Newell, then we have a long way to go and put simply, we don’t want to drive tired either, but need more and better places to sleep. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

22nd April 2018. Etiquette.

Goodaye all. The http://www.truckingnation.com.au website is the place for all our efforts now. To those who had tried to join the drivers club, our apologies for not being computer geeks and having it perfect from the start. And Stephen and his wife deserved the holiday that happened to nearly coincide. It should now be fixed and simple, yet as with all things, there is always room for improvement and we welcome any constructive feedback.

The reason we ask for where you run etc, is to set up a database for each road so we can message or ring you if needed, to comment and then respond to a problem or issue. We will not send or ring just for fun, we will aim to keep such things to a minimum and to those who know what we are talking about and can respond with knowledge and awareness. We also ask for what weight and freight you cart and how far, so in the future we can say our members carry a thousand tonnes a week and travel a million k’s a month and this will only help with our credibility and in being recognised as a group that does do the job.

Now we want you to get your mates involved, to spread the word about and the videos themselves to get more involved. Like any group, union or organisation, it will only ever achieve what it can with the support and participation of its members. So in some ways it is up to you.

I have responded on the website to the forum on etiquette started by Stephen. Simply put, doing the right thing. I had a driver ask me about flashing others in (and had a different discussion with Yogi about the same issue during the week). What do you do? Why do you do it? Do you have a problem with what others do and why? Yes the driver who called me on the UHF and then rang (my number is in Owner Driver) complained about those with terrific spotties not just flashing you back in, but holding them on till you pull over and if you complain, the usual happens. Surely in the dark a simple touch will do unless you have lousy lights and it is surely up to the driver when he or she will pull back in.

If you are the overtaking party, do you have to show me how good you are by nearly taking the shine off the corner of the bulbar as you pull in. With the new technology, if you pull back in too early, you will affect the Active Cruise or Automatic Emergency Braking and if there is no one behind you for kilometres, why do you have to pull in so close?

Yes, if there is a que of traffic behind you, then the overtaker should move over as soon and safe and reasonable and or the overtakee, should consider helping his mate to do the right thing. I will not slow going uphill fully loaded, but will make the effort to help another driver most of the time. However, if you sit a foot off the back of the truck and cannot call etc, you may be there awhile.

RPT trucks are now limited to mostly 97 and we did do a stint at 95 and on the top end of the Newell, that was an issue with caravans and roadtrains. One night I got six trucks round me in one hit because it was safe to do so, I made it all happen on the radio and I generally do not want either someone sitting up my backside when there is nowhere to pass safely for kilometres, or then passing when it is not safe. Do you call if you catch up and wait, or do you sit there too close till you can pass? Don’t take offence, we are all human, and surely we can talk together. If not, we are lost.

We are all out here together and there is no one else who cares a damn about us, so if we cannot work together, it will be a more lonely and less enjoyable job. We have all been taught differently and act and behave differently, but we can improve things if we try. Let’s make up something we can all agree to (yes my rose coloured glasses getting a run here) and then we can start with one thing sorted and then educate the rest, then move onto the next thing. Little steps? What do you say?

Now for those of you car drivers out there, you are not meant to be excluded. Do you understand what I am talking about and do you have a view? Trucks run at different speeds and must be allowed to overtake, but two trucks running side by side for kilometres does not help anyone. Your views are welcome as well.

Have any of you seen the new campaign by the NHVR about talking it (safety etc) over with a mate featuring Shane AKA Kenny from TV? Any comments or thoughts please. Safe Traveling, Rod Hannifey.

 

14th April 2018

Goodaye all. A big week with two lots of tyre troubles and family issues to boot. The hardest part of this job is not being there for your family. Yes they can ring much of the time, but when you are loading etc and need to meet a timeslot, you can’t simply stop for 15 minutes to talk and give them the time they need, as no one else cares about your problems and the world must go on. On the road is different, but you can’t always be there or available when you should, or wish you could be.

How will we ever attract young people into a job that does not recognise this problem? If you look at the money we earn, you might well say it is good money. But when you look at the conditions under which we work, living in a truck, trying to eat and live on the road, let alone in some way healthily and you work out the hourly rate for the life you lead, then it does not look so good. Add to that the roads on which we travel, the people who we share the roads with and the lack of respect for the job we do, would you do it?

In this last 6 days since I left home, I have had at least three close calls. A car who could not wait for me to pull out of a tyre repair shop and sped up to get around me as I exited, they were not there as I pulled out and I missed the back of the ute by inches, a car overtaking another coming at me around a corner and just getting back in without hitting me and others who could not wait to see clear road, but had to pass without sufficient safe roadspace, putting both their and their passengers lives in danger as well as my own, only to get round the next corner and have two kilometres of clear and empty road.

How do you balance that and maintain a family life? It is hard and I am not alone. Many drivers now tell their kids if they go anywhere near a truck, they will kick them that hard they will not land for a week and they already know how much impact the life of an interstate truckie will have on family. Many have lost their family, some more than once, only trying to earn a living and feed that family.

There are times when I think is it worth it? Yet I have made my job my hobby and my passion as well. You can either spend your time in the truck complaining and whingeing or you can try and get some value from the time you have alone on the road and there is lots of that. I wish I had the answers and whilst none of this is your problem, I just would ask for you to give it some thought and maybe you have the answer.

I did get to watch What’s Up Downunder on television this afternoon. It covered the show when they attended the Retreat Caravan Rally in Mudgee last year, where I also  attended and launched our “Sharing rest areas” video. I was interviewed by Macca and they showed a bit of my seminar and I would like to thank the show and the Retreat Caravan Club for the invite and the opportunity to talk to their members. We as an industry need to do more of this, but how do you do it when you drive fulltime? I was not able to attend with the truck then and drove over in the family car (which has been off the road now for months and they cannot fix the problem, yet another issue I can’t resolve) and hope that the message was as well received as I can deliver it.

I did fail to mention the website for the TRUCK That, TRUCK That RV videos and the TRUCK That Australia Drivers Club. Go to http://www.truckingnation.com.au and have a look and I would welcome your comments. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.