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

TIV-Logo jpegTRUCK That Australia Drivers Club logo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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27th November Back in Mackay.

Goodaye all, well back in Mackay again, got in last night for a 35 hour break till I can unload Monday. Been a big week from the convoy last week, loading in Melbourne Monday with the wind and the curtains out level with the roof (not good for a perfect shoulder let alone a repaired one) but got to move up and finish loading with less wind. Then the long way round to Dubbo, that road across form the Hume is bad just like many others, the unsigned craters the worst, trying to pull up enough not to do damage, so on the brakes hard regularly in the night.

Grease the back turntable, had to adda couple of pallets and that delay (no good deed goes unpunished) meant when I rang to say an hour from Moree, sorry will be gone so night off and unload in morning. Had planned to be reloaded and out on the farm for Tuesday delivery, first of four loads. We had picked up the loads, but been unable to deliver and rain delayed need as well. However, Tuesday morn unload and reload and away.

Had an offer to follow another fellow in a ute to the farm, he thought there may be a shortcut, but we went all the way round first with about 10 k of dirt to the airstrip and unloading point. Unloaded with the crop dusters flat out up and down and went out the shortcut, all good. Funny that the dirt, yes with a soft spot and a couple of small humps for pipes etc, was still better than much of the first 50 k westbound from Moree and even much better than the hundreds of holes, a couple of serious failures and the myriad of trenches, craters and bumps on the bitumen road?

Two trips done each day, dropped plenty of dust each trip back and then told off to Newcastle to loads for up here. Didn’t quite make it, would love to have asked the yellow and orange truck was there a truck in front when he parked, because where he was you could only ift one truck in the spot just pats the BP at Murrurundi, so went into the next and nearly lost the truck and trailers in the hole. Full of stinking mud etc and been there for awhile, but managed to claw out and park on good ground, but then had to be nearly on the road, any further back and would have been bogged!

Off to the castle and rang the Murrurundi council, but got Singleton, explained the issue ansd the lady said she would be back to me by close of business that day. I was impressed, but a little doubtful. But true to her word, she rang me back about 3.30, telling me it is the responsibility of Tpt for NSW as it is on the highway. She had spoken with them and it was programmed for fixing before Xmas, but with all the gear out west, it may not get done.

She said it had been an ongoing issue, read back and forth for months to get something done, but a reminder to Tpt would not hurt. I did suggest though that a load of fill in there if it was going to be some time, would help and might lessen the severity of the issue. On the phone to Tpt NSW on 131700, round and round for a bit, then lost the call. How many of you have found phone service worse now? So rang again, explained again and had a bloke who said he might know someone who could help. Let’s hope and if you see it fixed, let me know.

No to compare that with the work of the road crew I had ben watching west of Moree may well be unfair. It must be a bugger of a job and fairly daunting at the moment, take a load of cold hotmix (mmm, wonder how well that will work when thrown in a hole?) enough for a days work and when you need about 30 loads, see how far it will go. Now I did this round trip 4 times in two days and yes, some holes were filled, but it looked like fill two miss five, fill two miss a crater, fill two and miss 10 was the plan.  No womper stomper or roller, maybe tamp with the foot or roll with the truck, but will they last a week, what value are we getting?  Again, not a job I want, but who makes suer we get some value from the effort?

I truly think we need some better oversight of road funding money. It is our lives on the road, yes the odd car might blow a tyre or break a rim, but not only do our trucks cop a flogging, so do we and we will still be blamed for breaking the road when it was not built or fixed properly in the first place. What do you think? Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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20th November 2022

Goodaye all, just arrived in Melbourne, from Mackay, but managed to take part and visit for the Goulburn Convoy for Kids. It seems to have been a big week-end with I believe two other truck events on and unfortunately, these are often the only times we get any good press. The organisation and planning that goes on well before and during such events, is all too often unseen and unsung by those who simply take part.

Yes drivers and sometimes their families give up their rare free time to take part, often spending hours making the trucks look good, but unless we get the public in to such events, we are too often simply preaching to the converted. I still think we missed the one chance we may ever get during covid, to both be recognised and put our views and needs forward, because when the shelves were empty, suddenly the public realised they needed trucks. We were treated badly in so many ways, yet still expected to deliver everything to everyone.

The NRFA put out a six point plan, yes some covid stuff, but other long standing issues and we asked all other associations to back it. A couple did by phone and email, but none came out and helped push it and then of course, the shelves were refilled, still some shortages, but we were then forgotten again and remain that way now. We missed a big chance, but we as those still on the road really needed our associations to stand up for us and those who were still working simply can’t do it alone.

But back to Goulburn, it was I believe a record turnout for them, trucks were lined up to the top of Governors Hill and nearly filled the showground track, but then many of the drivers left soon after and at 5.30, I was the last truck on the track when I left. There was still a band and it did rain a bit, but I think the organisers, all the public, families and kids who attended seemed to get good value and enjoy the show. I would have liked to see some more interaction between the trucks, drivers and public and will work on how that might happen, but well done to all involved, organisers, supporters and participants.

The roads and rain have played havoc with many people’s lives and homes, but the roads have not coped and the damage to them and then the cost and increased damage and maintenance to every truck on the road, let alone the added time, distance and fuel seems to be ignored by all except for those who have to pay for it. Not as important if you have lost your home, but our lives on the road are not valued very highly by anyone other than us it seems at times and this must change.

There is still so much to fix to have every driver safe, well paid and with a life that will never be the same as those who can be home each night or even work from home, but if we don’t or won’t help one another, who else will. I would like you to think on this. The good old days, weren’t that good except in memories and then you forget all the bad stuff, but we can improve the future, but only if we try and we work together. How to get you all involve3d to do this is the big question. Yes I would live to see every truckie do more, or just do one thing to make things better, but that is only likely to happen in my dreams. What can you do, what will you do, to help? Let me know. Cheers and Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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13th November 2022

Goodaye all, well 14 hours home in my first three weeks back on the road. Visited last Wednesday night, back to work Thursday morning with a big plan and nearly had it all undone by a “T” piece. Had an airbag replaced, off on the plan and got loaded in Parkes, then smelt something burning and found link trailer bags flat. Found the leak and rang work, will find a bit and send someone, then had an offer from a young lady in the industry who got their mechanic out, but they did not have the right fitting and my plan all nearly fell to bits.

I wanted to be in Mackay (yes again for the week-end) so I could attend a Central Qld Heavy Vehicle Forum on Wednesday. Then I had plans to be home for the dentist Saturday, (yes done) then Monday, visit a doctor, get the trailers relined, some work on the truck and so far so good. The time I lost for the T piece in the end meant I had to fit in a break, so to be still able to unload, get reloaded, get to Mackay for 24 hour break etc. Got there and found there was another truck in front of me, but ended up loading out Monday and again Tuesday to be back Tuesday evening for a shower and bed before the event.

Yes it was ambitious to plan so much and so far ahead, what the hell was I thinking and to have it all nearly brought undone by an air leak, no one else would understand. But by a bit of an effort, it worked. The event in Mackay went well, I hope it will have some effects and will pursue in the future. I do think this went well, could see some change for the future and thank the organisers for the invite. Thanks also to all others who attended, there was one other driver and many government bodies who I hope will act. You never know if you never go, but if you don’t, you certainly will not be heard.

Got loaded Thursday and even then on the way home managed to attend the Transport for NSW Regional Freight Forum in Narrabri Friday (having missed the Dubbo one last week). My EWD kept me legal and on time, but I had to use all my hours on a couple of days and having that, meant no hours stolen by the stupid rounding rules that take our time and refuse to consider that loss and it ramifications.

Had a couple of drivers call me up for various reasons, mostly good, some off to court, some wanting things fixed etc. I keep trying, but there is only one of me and until you all join the NRFAS and help, it is a slow and arduous process to get anything fixed. Some light at the end of the Tpt for NSW tunnel, I was able to raise a list of issues, hope some have even been already looked at, some road issues north of Moree, some recognition of my efforts re rest areas and some further inclusion of others to see that start to improve.

A bit late, had to help a daughter and now to bed to complete tomorrows tasks and get to work in the evening if all goes well. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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6th November 2022 Back in sunny Mackay for a HV Road Safety Forum

Goodaye all, back in sunny Mackay this morning to unload tomorrow, possibly reload and do a Tuesday delivery then attend and speak at a Heavy Vehicle Road Safety Forum here on Wednesday. Then I load Thursday in Rockhampton and home. Floods tried to delay me on the way home last week, but I just beat them closing the road. We all make plans, sometimes you wonder if it is worth it, but “If you fail to Plan, you plan to fail” as the saying goes.

Floods etc are hard to plan for and it seems airline fittings letting go after getting a new air bag can be much more an issue. That fitting caused me a lot of grief, lost sleep and concern on whether I would be able to achieve all the stuff I had planned for the next week plus. I was invited to attend this forum months ago just after my shoulder surgery. As we run up here a bit, I thought, instead of losing days off and flying about (and from Dubbo it would have been at least three flights each way) I thought I would try and sort it with work in mind. Now it will still cost me and my family lost income, work will lose a bit too, but less than if I had taken the time off to attend which would have ended up three days or more and being in the middle of the week up here, possibly a full week near lost.

The federal funding for truck rest areas is a leap and a good one, but we are not only coming from such a low base, we are years behind and much has been done wrong and money wasted. I travelled out the Peak downs Highway last week, the Leichardt, Dawson, Fitzroy Development Road and Newell to get home and then the Pacific and the Bruce on the way up. Stopping Bays!!!!! Who designs, decides where they go and why are there ten in a row and then nothing for hundreds of k. Out of Hay, into Roma, north from Emerald, someone has made an effort to put them in. But without the green reflectors, the ones in Central Qld don’t exist at night and with no prior warning, aren’t much better in the day.

When the Pacific Highway was first opened from Newcastle, I lodged a complaint that the Stopping Bays there all had long black skidmarks, as trucks had tried to stop at the last minute. On the Peak Downs Highway, west of Nebo, most are at the bottom of a hill, similar on the Pacific now, but even worse, many are round corners. How can you design and build a “road safety” feature that completely ignores trucks? Some of these sites are round blind corners. A fully loaded semi, let alone a b-double, will pull out at a few kilometres an hour and take some time to accelerate, yet the highway traffic will come round the corner and find them barely moving, is that safe?

On the Bruce there are currently many worksites, yet I did not see one of them that will include a truck rest area, let alone Stopping Bays. There is no shoulder and very few safe places to pull off the road from Childers north, there are big gaps and lots of traffic and whether you hit a roo, need a pee or are simply tired and need to stop or get out and walk around the truck to get to the next formal site, good luck. There are a number of sites (and some stockpile sites too) that would suit marking with green reflectors and the couple that are marked have been there for a long time, but TMR have done little to change things since I complained well over 15 years ago when I was running up here in tankers.

Last week when I was up here, I helped another driver find his phone lost in the truck and then borrowed his bit set to fit these. Having seen them before (and you can get them powder coated as well, but as shown are $460 plus GST a set from Warwick Qld and you can phone on 0432176366. They make good use of the space and are worth the money and fit straight on.

Just for fun, old mate had been and done his washing, the small machine at the BP was not up to the task and he had to go to the laundromat, but this clothesline worked well.

Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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29th October 2022, BACK to WORK.

Goodaye all, thanks to all who commented and responded to my last blog. A few have called up on the road as well and I do appreciate your support.

Well first week back at work, an early return, but I had pushed my exercises etc and have things in place with work for a sensible plan to get me back on the road. Being my left shoulder will help. It was not a simple return, I know you will all be shocked that it did not happen as planned. Suffice to say things delayed my actually driving out the gate, till nearly 8pm after getting out to work early that day.

The truck was due for service, it had not been fueled or washed etc due to some extra factors and by the time I left, I simply had to get going to have any chance of getting unloaded on the way down and then getting loaded the next afternoon in Melbourne. The Newell was open to trucks south of Forbes and just for fun, let’s poke that bear. After the second last major floods, there was a plan supposedly put in place to floodproof the Newell, or as best as possible. Then there was the last floods and they said, bugger, this flood is different and we will have to relook at what we were going to do again, before we do anything at all.

Now had they simply started on the perhaps 8 areas and culverts that cop most of the water and so then flood and or fail, so at least doing one a year, then we would have had maybe the four worst ones improved for now, if not fixed for the next 50 years. But no, we are still all thinking and planning and the transport industry and its’ customers have been failed again by those who do not have to drive through the failures when it is open, or go hours out of their way each time it is closed and not just for a day, but weeks on end.

This is a major transport route, it should be part of both a national highway network that must be improved and made not only safe for all who use it, but recognised as a major transport corridor. I think we have gone backwards since the Feds gave the responsibility for such roads to the states. Many transport companies are now avoiding the Newell if they can (and I would welcome comments and or actual change of use issues) and going through Sydney.

This is only putting much more pressure on the lack of truck bays on the Pacific Highway, which after having millions spent making it is a much better road, perhaps one of the best and better than the Hume as it is now, but without a changeover site for those needing it. I asked, when the road was being built, but here we are again chasing our tails and begging for facilities that should have been included during the build, not still being pursued years after it is done.

Why wasn’t the industry properly consulted and the Gatton roadtrain pads completed before the Toowoomba bypass? Why are we not included in discussions and consultations about things that affect us directly and then those who make the decisions, not even a bit. This must change!

So it has been a flat out return and here I am in sunny Mackay, finally able to sweep out the floor and start to get the truck back to where it was. There is still some more to do and I had hoped to be home to do some this first week-end back, but if all goes to plan, I will be back up here next week-end to be able to speak at a transport industry forum (but missed the one in Dubbo Friday) in Mackay next Wednesday. We will see. Depending on the weather and things, I may even talk to you all tomorrow. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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23rd October 2022

Goodaye all, it has been a while I know and there are some good reasons for that and there are then others that simply added weight and pressure. After twenty years of effort, much of which few of you will care about and even fewer would even be aware of or even recognise, I thought I was so close to getting the last TIV sorted and on the road. Yes after much delay, some of it mine, some due to covid etc, we got the truck on the road and thanks to all who supported, contributed and helped.

Then I did my second, left this time, shoulder and bicep. Again I was told if I was retiring next year, maybe let it go, but with the new truck and my commitment to another five years, if I wanted to be able to lift my arm above my shoulder, I had to get it done. Got surgery, home, tidied some things and started on the 3M clear coat on the tanks, having done the bullbar myself and wish I could have had it all done before it hit the road, but such is life they say.

Then some things changed and I will have to mull that over some more before I if ever, talk about it here. Suffice to say I have pushed really hard with the exercises, doing treble what I was supposed to, have started the minimal weight training early and will return to work tomorrow with the truck and 50 year RPT trailers. They had new curtains, gate skates and with the truck being an auto and with the fold out stairs, my surgeon, physio and doctor had all agreed I can get back to it a bit earlier than some have.

Now to those who think I have been home watching tv, (yes I did a bit) but did the garden again like last time and went to Canberra as reported previously. I have spent time on the phone and emails etc, plus then to Melbourne at the invitation of Senator Carol Brown, the Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Transport to attend a discussion on the National Road Safety Strategy. As with the Canberra meeting I was the only driver and passionately put forward our concerns. I submitted a written list and then spoke to that list in the meeting.

I managed to meet up with two of the Women in Trucking Australia ladies the morning of the meeting and was able to also arrange an invite for Julie Downey to attend the meeting that day and at very short notice and with her very personal involvement in the information she supplied, detailed how the seatbelts in trucks and even the crash tests and dummies used, do not recognise the female population at all. It had never occurred to me how such could even happen, let alone be allowed, but Julie detailed the inconsistencies and failings of the current testing and fitting of seatbelts, specifically in trucks, that do not recognise women’s frame and body.

I raised some issues that had not been previously included at such forums, the NHVR gentleman beside me backed me up on the rest areas issue and others did have some recognition of some trucking issues, but most agreed with my comments that we are not treated fairly in the media, that we are not recognised for the lives we save, yet castigated and found guilty for any lives we take, initially whether we are responsible or not! Julie from TWiA told of a female truckie involved with a pedestrian suicide when she was driving, that was treated so badly by authorities, she is in a mental institution!

I also attended a Rural Road Safety Day at Lowes Petroleum in Dubbo for a sausage sizzle and spoke there with the Mayor about roads and ringroads etc. Another fellow I spoke with is due to retire soon and having done stock much of his life, though it has given him and his family all they have now, had done his shoulder, could not take the time off as an owner driver to get it fixed and now can barely lift it to his shoulder height, but can’t lift any weight with it at all. He was not happy many things have not been fixed, but says not only are those issues all still relevant, but shock, COR has not got to some cockies either and many still expect things above what is legal. It is now changing as older blokes leave and some won’t simply just do what they are asked or told to get the work and the lessening numbers mean there will be more change. But funny how it is not discussed or seen much and while I hope one day COR will actually work, till now it has been a marvellous theory with little bite above driver level and much talk. Let’s hope it works soon. 

I have again chased the NT authorities about green reflectors, chased SA to see where they are at, but believe they have done a lot of work marking sites and I thank them for that. A complete list of possible sites for the wire rope overlaps for the Hume in Victoria was sent in and time to chase that again now.

I have been invited to discuss further highway and rest area future works with Transport for NSW, told them I will be chasing a changeover site on the Pacific, (yes another broken record I know) and toilets and improved truck parking, along with a ringroad for Dubbo. It seems I will possibly miss the Regional Freight Forum meeting in Dubbo next Friday to discuss road safety etc, but the flooding may see that moved back?

I aim to attend a Queensland Heavy Vehicle Safety Forum in November and once back on the road, get the new trailers for next year sorted and back into it. Last week-end I was able to travel to Lithgow for the Australian Caravan Club Muster and spoke there for 90 minutes giving a presentation that discussed trucks, the industry, rest areas and included the excellent WhitelineTv videos. And on Friday, knowing the Newell was closed north of Narrabri, checked live traffic as I went in theory on my way to the CMCA rally at Bingara, where I was to do a similar presentation.

But there had been torrential rain which then meant the road to Bingara was also closed, though still open on live traffic when I turned around at Narrabri and after ringing and apologising that I had kept coming and certainly tried, I would not be able to attend.

So to all of you who have offered a comment or support, to those who have given me a call and to those who still want it all fixed, I have two questions. What are you doing to see it changed and have you joined an association? I don’t care if you join the union, because you work local, you join the Victorian, Queensland or other Trucking Association because that is where you live, but doing it on your own is hard work, hard on family and very frustrating. If you join an association, then be involved, nit just a number. You don’t have to give over your whole life, just do more than those who sit and complain nothing gets fixed. The NRFA is another alternative if you want to see change.

Yes the roads are terrible, yes the HVNL review is already outdated and not even complete, but no one outside of us who live on the road really care about us. I have tried, I will accept I have failed at some things and maybe could have done more, but I have not given up and will do another 5 years. You can help or you can sit back and whinge. I can’t do it all on my own, but I am still trying. What are you doing? I look forward to catching up with many, stay safe and give me a call. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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13th September 2022

Goodaye all, sorry for the gap, there is often very little spare time and whilst I have kept busy, I have spent some time chilling, watching a bit of tv and trying to very slowly, complete the last of the excellent Robin Hobb Assassins Apprentice series. I am onto the last book, number 9 and am filling gaps, but don’t want it to finish. I very much enjoyed the Rangers Apprentice, even more as it was written by an Australian to get his boys to read, but this is even better.

The meeting with Minister Burke in Canberra was preceded by an informal meeting with Minister Kings Transport advisor in the lobby. He has come back to Aus from a stint in Canada and we spoke of his time there and the need for more driver involvement. I have offered him a trip when back on the road. The meeting I was there for started at 3.30 and there was a wide range of industry, union, associations, suppliers, transport, retailers and also the gig economy was represented.

Minister Tony Burke opened with an overview and thanked the industry for its efforts during covid. His advisors then offered an outline and then Glen Sterle gave a passionate lead in to the discussions.

Each attendee was given a chance for comment, including my self, but in one way, being one of the last, meant I could take notes and not only fill gaps, but then be suer I could cover what others had missed or not considered. This meeting was to pursue and then hopefully see enacted, the first two recommendations for the Senate inquiry into a Safe and Viable Road Transport Industry. It was then to report or contribute to the skill and employment meetings held in Canberra that week.

Had I not been on workers comp and still attended, I would have been the only person not being paid to attend and the only full time driver, out of the 30 or so attendees. There were some via zoom, academics including Professor Michael Quinlan who was the chair of the “Beyond the Midnight Oil” inquiry. I spoke of contributing to many such things, my role and the importance of having drivers involved. I did state I recognize the good intent of all, unions and associations, but again pushed that none of them, or those attending, live fulltime on the road and so do not live the life and fully understand the ramifications of it.

I was told I had delivered a passionate and powerful message by the Minister and all were informed this meeting would see results. It was specifically stated, it was not a matter of if anything would be done, it will and the only issue was when! I do believe it was worth the effort to drive down and have a say, it was my last day with the sling on and I wore it there not just to protect the shoulder, but to hopefully lessen the chance of being bumped or patted on the sore one. I did attend (and have two lemonades) at the dinner held by the TWU after the meeting finished at 5, but left at 9. It was agreed by all, and many from the Ministers meeting did attend, that it had been a long road covering many years, that the job was certainly not done or complete, but it was a good start and the intent to finally have an industry body to contribute and be a part of industry change. It is a good start and will only work if all keep pushing.  

I had planned to stay in Canberra for the night, but had physio the next day and so headed home and ended up doing my spot on Nightshift at Wellington, before getting home and to bed in the rain.

I have some jobs still to do on the truck, am chasing some suppliers about bits and pieces and hope to have it all done, (with just the rear taillights to be fitted when I can get it to Brisbane) and then the cupboards. Once I have a date for return and the 50 year trailers are complete, it will be back into it for another 4 or 5 years, with new trailers due next year. I will have to reengage with many who were willing to supply parts and photos and support for the trailers, it has taken longer than I hoped, but many have commented on the look of the truck and with its dedicated trailers, it will look the part and do the job. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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7th August 2022 a new left hand shoulder for my birthday.

Goodaye all, well home with the new shoulder, but the surgeon said the tendons reattached itself and while it was further down than he would have liked, it would have been silly to cut and then reattach again. Shoulder was said to be a big tear, not as much meat as he would have liked to secure to, but believes it will work and keep me going for a few more years if I do the correct rehab and don’t do anything silly. Pain is ok unless I move the wrong way and the biggest problem is as it was before, trying to sleep wearing a sling and after surgery.

Hope to do a few tidy up jobs on the truck and to finish some lights, then return with the Rod Pilon Transport 50 year trailers all done and looking the goods till new trailers in the new year. Will stay short and sweet, keep safe on the road and talk soon. Cheers and Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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31st July 2022 now for left shoulder surgery.

Goodaye all. I had a couple of things planned for this week, last minute found they were having a K220 Kenworth launch night in Dubbo, would have been good to have a look and was then to be in Canberra for a convoy Saturday and then dinner, but Thursday night headed to St George to unload. That was OK, all open and ready by the time they opened up, had another plan to fix some green reflector sites with time to spare on my way home and the rest would fall into place.

But when unloaded got a call, come into Brisbane to load. Now looking at distance and time and the need for a DG registered trailer, thought MMMM, this will be tight. Made it with a few minutes to change trailers at the yard and go and load bulk DG before they went home for the week-end. It must be nice to work normal hours and be able to plan a life and stuff. Back to the yard, play trailer musicals, drop loaded one, hook up my A trailer, drop the B I had brought in and then hook up the loaded one again. Ready to leave Brisbane with already 8 hours in my book, so off to Fisher Park for tea.

The TIK Tok video “safetravelling, TRUCKSTOPS AND LIVING ON THE ROAD” has obviously hit a note with some, many remembering the times back when you looked for trucks parked and that was where you got a good feed on the road. It must be hard for truckstops, we struggled during covid when the authorities initially closed them down, then we complained and they reopened them, only to have some police threaten them with big fines. Glen Sterle had far more weight than a single truckie and got some saneness back into play, but it should not have been that hard to recognise, that truckies need good food, as well as decent rest areas for good sleep, let alone access to toilets etc to survive and stay fit on the road to deliver everything to everyone.

Truckstops struggled like many businesses which lost much of their trade and like so many now, are finding it hard to get enough good and competent staff to service their customers, us and others. The few that still look after us, like Fisher Park at the top of the Gap where I did the video, are getting rarer and those that have to reduce hours or such, can then find we look elsewhere. What is the solution?

I am off to get surgery on my left shoulder this week, then 5 weeks in a sling and start physio and hopefully back to work in 10 weeks or less. May be a bit slower, but keen to get truck and trailers sorted and get to some shows. New trailers now hopefully sorted for the new year, then four more years of trying to see change and safer roads for all in my spare time. I will be continuing most of my other activities, blog, radio, column etc and hope to see you all soon. Safe travelling, Rod Hannifey.  

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24th July 2022

Goodaye all, back to a semblance of a normal week, just two trips to Brisbane and leaving again today, for up there tomorrow. Got my medical done last Monday morning with some discussion on time and an eye report, but have that booked for next week to complete and then have handed in, in time for the due date. Got held over in Brisbane Tuesday and ended up doing a delivery to a produce store, then the second trip up, better timing but another delivery down to Beaudesert.

Will have my old trailers on later today, they are showing a bit of age but the whole unit still does its’ job of promoting the road transport industry and road safety and I now have some certainty of a new set of trailers in the new year that will match the new truck and then I will have maybe four more years to push that barrow.

But next Tuesday I will be in surgery now for my left shoulder. Had the right done last year and that went well, but have again completely torn the tendon (so no real pain and have “Popeye” syndrome on both arms now) and damaged the shoulder and was told the same, yes I may get away with it for a year or two, but there is a chance I may then not be able to lift my arm above my shoulder and if I want to keep working for another four or five years, it should be done.

So off to Sydney Monday, home on my birthday with a fixed shoulder, then 5 weeks in a sling, then physio and hopefully, with an auto, Kenworths fold out cab steps, my RPT 50 years rear trailer finally done with gate skates and new curtains, back to work even if gently, sometime soon after that. While I am off the truck will have the finishing touches that we have not had time to do, completed, a service and will be ready to go and with the smick trailers, keen to get to some events and of course, work on the design and set up of the new trailers too.

Will still be doing all the other stuff and for those of you who listen to the spot on Triple M Tuesday morning, the CEO of the NHVR, Sal Petrocitto will be on and answering questions for the first hour this week. I hope to have some others join in at times and we will see how this goes. Got to finish a small job on the truck etc, so till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.