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

TIV-Logo jpegTRUCK That Australia Drivers Club logo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15th February 2020 @ Glendambo

Goodaye all, just arrived in Glendambo, South Australia, home of 225,000 sheep 2,000,000 plus flies and 30 people (now 35) according to the sticker you can buy in the Caltex servo. We will be on the road early tomorrow morning to catch up with a triple roadtrain on the way to Darwin to do more of our next road safety video, Caravans and Roadtrains.

This was the only week-end available to all and required a Saturday shoot, to not delay the truck anymore than necessary or than they could afford, to still have the express into Darwin Monday.

But it means I will miss the National Road Freighters Assoc (NRFA) Conference and AGM held in Dubbo this Saturday. I did some of the set-up work getting quotes for venues, arranging speakers, doing some media etc and have spoken with a number of local businesses seeking some items for the auction and thanks to both Inland Truck Centre the local Kenworth dealer and Trackserv the local Isuzu truck dealer, for contributing.

I have been involved and on the board of NRFA for many years now and whilst I would like to do more, there is simply not much time left spare with my other efforts. But they have helped support me with a logo on the TIV trailer curtains, certainly given me a voice with other like minded drivers and I hope I have, as one of the few company drivers amongst mostly passionate owner drivers, provided another view and or perspective to some of the issues.
The NHVR will have people attending and pollies have been invited and with members discussing and looking for answers to some of the industry’s problems, I had hoped to contribute with it being in my home town. But we can only do what we can.

We stopped on the way out north from Adelaide at a couple of rest areas (plenty of informal sites could do with green reflectors to help drivers find safe spots in the dark) and it was interesting that a number of large and open sites, one of nearly half an acre with open entry/exit and parking for 40 trucks, were marked no trucks. I will be following this up on my return next week. I doubt it would ever be policed, it is not as if they were all chock a block full, but if you don’t run the road regularly and are tired looking for somewhere to stop and follow the signs, it could be a long way between truck stops.

With the usual help from all at Rod Pilon Transport, Katie in Melbourne, John in Dubbo and Nick in Brisbane, I managed to get four legs in, deliver a load they wanted done and rush home in time for a shower and to pack and then catch the plane to Adelaide yesterday. I do thank them individually when they help me achieve one of my efforts to get something done on top of my usual work and I have thanked Rod Pilon Transport (RPT) which of course starts with Rod himself, his son Ben and all the others who do give me enormous scope and time and understanding, to do these extra activities.

I have said there are few companies that would let a driver design the trailer curtains, about to be for the third time when I get the next set done (and RPT are now getting my old original TIV curtains on another set of trailers) let alone give me the flexibility they do, to try and achieve other efforts. Yes much of it is in my time above work, but some is done within, where and when it does not adversely affect RPT. Thank you to each and every one of you at RPT who have helped me in any way to do that bit more.

Back at Glendambo, a good days filming drone footage of a triple overtaking another triple and the noticeable difference in attitude of many drivers on far more populated highways. No drama, no snarkiness, just help one another to get the job done. Thanks to ABC Transport, their driver Kelvin, our intrepid caravanners, Keith and Rachael, friends of Stephen and Sarah from Whiteline TV, our drone pilot, Jess the producer and I did my bit, only fluffing a few lines. Off to bed now, more filming in the morning, then back to Adelaide, more filming Monday then back to work maybe Wednesday. Safe Travelling to all, Rod Hannifey.

27th January 2020 Happy belated Australia Day to all.

Goodaye all, it has been an interesting week. Happy belated Australia Day to all. I hope you did something truly Aussie. I must say I enjoyed the new extended version of “We are Australian” from the Melbourne benefit concert, it nearly brought a tear to my eye. Well done to Bruce Woodley and all who took part.

Completed one trip Dubbo to Melbourne, flour down and chemical back. Back in Dubbo Wednesday, replaced a couple of Air Tabs on one trailer curtain, wrote a list of mostly minor repairs to be done along with a major “C” service for the prime mover, due every 100,000 kilometres, so twice a year.

Intercooler out for cleaning, check all oils, do bearings and other items on the list, all on top of a normal oil change and service, along with doing services on both trailers as well, while the truck is being done. So little things like a light torn off by a roo a week ago, another out that we had to order a replacement for, but not safety critical, included to be done at the same time.

With such a job, well over a days full work for two blokes and subject to what they find and may then include other things, good time to go off filming.
Thursday I did manage to get to the dentist for a little filling, sent a heap of emails for those supporting (or at least those I am asking to) the next TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle, before flying out early Friday morning. My flight was on time out of Dubbo, but the next was a late plane into and then out of Sydney and that led to an on tarmac quick hop into the next one in Alice Springs. That turned out not to work so well, as my luggage and the tripod for the film camera didn’t make the transition. We got to Uluru and I had nothing but my camera bag.

We asked and followed up the lost luggage, but with no real clothes shopping available there, I had to wait and whilst we did film off the shoulder Friday, if you ever have to carry a true film camera, you will know they are not light nor easy to carry, let alone hold for an hour or so filming etc. After arrival at the resort, we went out to the Rangers Station and did an interview to confirm filming, what we could and couldn’t do, as any commercial filming must be approved and permits issued before you even go there.

Stephen stepped up and filmed off the shoulder Friday afternoon, we waited for the right light and got some good footage. I went out very early to watch the sunrise Saturday, as many others did and I do recommend you do if you ever get to visit the rock, too good an opportunity to miss whilst there, as I don’t think I will be there again at this stage, then back for a bit more sleep. Out to the airport to our late lost luggage, get some clothes and a tripod and now we were fully kitted. Then we headed off, again meeting with the ranger to confirm filming angles and specific issues to avoid, got set up and filmed and moved to different sites, again finishing after sunset Saturday.

A big well done to all the small but passionate Whiteline Television team, Stephen and his wife Sarah, producer Jessica and my on camera partner, Amelia.

We were well received and often helped by many of the true tourists, giving us some quiet when we needed it, some space and even turning off their cars, so we could film and it was warm and the flies were very friendly, so thanks to any we inconvenienced, even if only for a little while.

Some of course asked what filming here had to do with roadtrains, but of course those who spend their time on the road holidaying and seeing this marvellous country we live in, are those we are hoping to help be safer on the road and they will be at and visit, such places. But to get there, they will be on the road, sharing it with us as we deliver the goods. Even the tourist brochure for the resort, mentions the roadtrains that deliver all the goods, food, fuel and equipment for those who stay there.

Now Qantas had been apologetic about the luggage when we found it missing, (you would think they would count the number to transfer, but maybe there was another issue) and we did get it the next day, it just meant no clean undies etc, till then. It could have been worse, without the camera we would have been there for nothing!

But then they cancelled the flight Sunday and that threw a whole new heap of angst into the mix. Others beyond ourselves, had commitments and connecting flights and whilst we were never told early of a problem, I must say the young lady from Qantas in Uluru took it all in her stride. A couple of people were getting stroppy as you might expect, but she asked us all to give her some time as she played musical flights and needs and she took each in turn and sorted it out. Someone said they would not have wanted her job for quids, but she got it all sorted and I wish I had her name to give her a well done.

Some were moved onto direct early Jetstar flights, but I and a few others, due to the much later departure of the Jetstar flights, simply would not make the connecting flights all ready booked to get home, so were put up in Sydney for the night. I would have rather been home and when I spoke with my son telling him of the delay and not to pick me up, he said it was pretty lame. I remarked, I would rather them cancel the flight if they thought they had a problem, than have it fall out of the sky later.

It is all about how you look at it. My son had given me a book when I said, I need something to read while waiting at the airport in Sydney and that book was “The Alchemist” 25th Anniversary edition. I had never read it and finished it on the plane to Alice Springs, but it certainly has a message. It says it is the book translated into more languages than any other and I enjoyed it. Back to work tomorrow if the service etc is all finished. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

19 January 2020 Goodaye again.

Goodaye all, did you miss me? Big couple of weeks and ended up in Mackay yet again late last Saturday night, for a Monday morning delivery. Had to get there before midnight to get my 24 hour break in for the week. Must say I had a terrific feed at the BP at Clermont, nearly couldn’t finish my fourth rissole and perhaps then didn’t need the bread and butter. The salad was good, including potato salad as well, good value for the size and went down well.

Back into the “Nighshift” show each Wednesday at 1AM, they had two weeks off over Christmas and even got back up after getting into Brisbane Tuesday night early from Rockhampton. Had a wheel seal fail, could smell the diff oil when I pulled up in Mackay and had to get it fixed at Brown and Hurley Rocky, job well done and they replaced the bearings as well. While I was there was asked if I was looking at a new truck and told them I was, but speaking with Kenworth and hoping they would support the next TIV. I was asked what the “Airtabs” do and was told the curtains stood out and looked good.

Visited young George at Glenmore Homestead in Rocky, a bit tight through the gate, but had tea and a beer with him along with doing a phone hook-up for our National Road Freighters Association meeting. Thanks for the hospitality George and Tony the next morning. Now have somewhere to park if needed. We will be having the next conference in Dubbo at the Macquarie Inn on the 15th February. I am seeking people to supply items for the auction on the night, will be doing some media and have to email and get approval from the council to park outside for the event.

Down to Moree for a delivery, on the radio, then to bed unloading in the morning and then to Dubbo for a load that took a bit of sorting. 37 pallets, but many overwidth made for a challenge, but got done and ringing with sweat, back to Brisbane. The next day after a pick-up, the wheel seal on the other side went out in sympathy, just starting to weep, but again picked up by the smell. It has cost me a chance to go straight through to Melbourne today as must be fixed before leaving Dubbo Monday.

Loading for Melbourne tomorrow and hope to be back in Dubbo for Wednesday, sort out some local stuff, then fly to Alice Springs Friday morning for filming for our next safety video, Caravans and Roadtrains. Truck and trailers will go in for C service and some minor repairs while I am away.

I will be entering the Truckies Top Ten Tips (for sharing the road with trucks) along with the Green Reflector Marking of Informal Truck Bays into the National Road Safety awards this week. If nothing else, I just hope it helps each get some further promotion and recognition towards improving road safety for all.

Both have been now over 20 year projects and while I must say, I wish they were wider used and spread, each has made a mark and is recognised by some. I will keep on trying to have each a national program. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

5th Jan 2020 Have a Truckin’ Good 2020

Goodaye and a Happy New Year to you all. I have had a few days off, but done a trip to Melbourne each week, going down Boxing day and then again on New Years Day. So still doing my part to keep the wheels of industry turning. No real dramas on the road, mostly quieter than normal traffic, till on my way home this morning, with one imbecile deciding to overtake on a blind corner with a car coming the other way, which then went off the edge, lucky there was a wide enough bitumen one, or it could have been much worse.

It is one thing to go to overtake when you can see in a truck and run out of room because the fellow you have followed for some time, then speeds up, either because they are an idiot or simply because they do not want you to get in front. If that’s the case, then if you do the limit, only those who are speeding will want to pass you and why if someone waits till it is safe to overtake, would you be so ignorant to then speed up?

I had caught up to a caravan with two cars behind. The cars had ample opportunity to pass the van, but did not, so I had a go, did one car at a time with plenty of room, as I was right up on my weight and the next upcoming overtaking lane was uphill, so buckley’s chance to get past there, another little issue. To the credit of the van driver, though I could not even see his mirrors from behind him (technically illegal) he did pull over in the next town, indicated and gave me good notice what he was doing (seemingly had no UHF radio, I called on both 18 and 40) so I overtook and the now little train of cars behind did too. The vanner had sped up when I started on the second car and foiled me there, but did help further on.

The other issue only half an hour before, was a van. Yes, a little truck, but not a truckie, at least I don’t think so, as no truckie would do what he did. Again with him travelling about 85 to 90 in a reasonably new vehicle so well capable of doing the speedlimit, we were approaching an uphill overtaking lane.
I had stayed back a bit to get a run up, was on him at the start of the extra lane, got nearly past him before I started to lose speed, uphill at 67 tonne will do that, and he just sat there beside my back trailer all the way to the end of the overtaking lane and had to push in behind me. Now again, if you want to travel below the speedlimit, within reason, that is your right, but like anything, we would all then expect some recognition of the fact, that others might like to get somewhere.

If he wants to go slow, then why not let the other vehicles safely past as well in an overtaking lane. Why be a prick and sit beside the truck (and once past I never saw him again, so it was not me holding up the rest of the traffic) instead of letting them pass you in the safest place available, an overtaking lane. Is it just an “I’m alright stuff you attitude”?

It has been a terrible Christmas with fires and for those who have lost family on the road. What is your solution to the road safety problem? We could of course ban all cars off the road, we could all do 60 kph everywhere, but then all our food and exports would cost more and we would have truckies falling asleep everywhere, because we simply don’t have enough rest areas now, imagine how many we would need then? What do you suggest? All the best for a TRUCKING Good 2020. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

22nd December 2019 Merry Christmas.

Goodaye all. A big week on the road, Dubbo to Melbourne to Dubbo to Newcastle to Emerald, Brisbane and back home today. Got the aircon fixed, a new idler pulley, repair to a curtain roller, some tyres changed and a bit of loading and unloading along the way.

An animal week, hit three roos, no major damage, just some nut covers (bugger) missed two wombats, saw a fawn, an eagle, a dingo, missed a big water bird and a few others. Plenty of bumps hit and recorded with a couple that I plan to follow up on ASAP.
Spoke with RMS re signage on the new overtaking lanes near Dubbo, explained green reflector bays to a couple of drivers and wished a few mates Merry Christmas on the phone. To all the drivers and people who will not be with their families for Christmas, thanks for the jobs you do and I hope you get time with them over the holidays.

I was to have some time off, the first time since being at RPT, but one customer still needed to get the freight out so I put my hand up and we found some freight in Melbourne, for the return, so I will be loading tomorrow and leaving Boxing Day, unload and reload Friday and home Saturday.

Some years ago we did the U2 tour which went from Melbourne to Brisbane, to Sydney and then finished in Perth. I was the last truck to leave and I loaded and left there, drove for three days to Melbourne where I must admit I had to cheat a bit of time to get unloaded and reloaded, then left Christmas eve and got home 9AM Christmas Day, the only time Santa beat me home.

It was my first and only show trip and at one stage I asked one of the tour people could I do a story. He said no, they had previously had people do stories and were not happy with the outcome. I offered to allow them to vet anything before printing, but he said, definitely not. So I asked someone else and was standing outside the tour managers door when the first fellow walked past and asked me what I was doing. I said I have an interview with the tour manager and he shook his head and walked off.

I wrote a story for Owner Driver, which I had to keep down in words and was then approached by a mate and had to extend it and it is one of four stories I contributed to “Great Australian Trucking Stories” by Jim Haynes. I have had a number of drivers comment on the story and if you are looking for a late Chrissy present for a truckie, consider it and you can also get it as an audio book, read by Jim himself and I have a copy. It was strange that when I was approached about my Audiobooks for the road Facebook page by Big Rigs, I was reading the trucking one.

I do believe we have too few books on trucking in Australia and little history of those involved. The Road Transport Hall of Fame do sell some, but it is not where all can attend as easily as others. If you know of a good trucking history book, please let me know. I do have copies of “They Came like Waves” by Jeffrey Ffrost and this was an excellent story about how trucking got going after the war, then there was another book about the Hughes and Vale case which got road tax removed. I highly recommend both.

I also have a copy of “Where the Big Rigs Fly” which I had to buy as an old library book form the USA. It turned out to be signed by the authors, so quite a bonus. I had started to try and build my own road transport library, but ran out of time to read and chase them all, but one day?

I also still have a number of unbuilt truck model kits from years ago, I built them when I was a kid and whilst they have travelled in boxes as we have moved, I am not sure how much is still intact. All these things to do when I have time.

May I wish you all A Merry Christmas and a Trucking Good New Year, hope you continue to enjoy my writings and I will keep on trying for trucking in 2020. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

15th December 2019 The week that was.

Goodaye all. How do we explain our job to others, yet not make them concerned with all on the road? I had a big week, a few incidents and some time constraints that I managed to meet, yet could have had big impacts, had I not.
I was following a learner driver, they were doing about 85 and I was catching up in an overtaking lane. I gave a flash getting towards the end as I got close, to really ask both the learner and the teacher, would they let me pass? As I got to the back of the car at the very end of the overtaking lane, the learner still in the left hand lane and not yet moved over or indicating, at the very last second possible, they indicated and moved over into my lane.

As they had to cross a broken line, they should have given way to me and I would hope the teacher would have thought it wise to teach the learner the rules correctly and to teach common sense. Would you agree it would be better to slow early and let a truck go past on a major highway, than pull out with less than a car distance in front of a loaded b-double and then travel down the road at 80 kph for the next hundred k. Not this teacher it seems.

So being fully loaded, I could not get past till they actually turned off the road, not that far along, but again, surely better to have let me past and on my way than stuck behind when they were turning off soon anyway. How do we ever guarantee that parents teach the rules and good common sense on the road, specifically if they may know nothing about trucks themselves.
Then on my way into Melbourne at night on the Hume, me in the left lane with cars catching me in the right hand lane, a car was behind me and merging from the left. This car flashed me virtually asking why I did not just slow, but stop and let them in? Which part of the law about giving way to the traffic you are merging with, did this goose not understand? They were not the only ones with this idea this month.

The next was a truck passing me going up the Toowoomba range, me loaded, him a light semi only and as he passed, he pulled over far too early and had I not swerved to the left, would have hit me. I waited for an apology, none forthcoming, but I did not abuse him, though did consider it, to be honest.
There were other minor incidents, none dangerous or really stupid, just the usual things where car drivers expect me to let them in etc when I am at 65 tonne, just because they think I should, let alone they were meant to give way to me.

Then there were the time issues. Up on hours the night before, in a spot I am not fully aware of all rest areas and after a couple of unsuitable tries, found and used a suitable informal site for a 7 hour break, but would not suit green reflectors, as would be a problem in the wet. Leaving the next morning I was nearly at a customer and as I only had an address on my paperwork initially and not keen relying on just that, so got a phone number from the web, rang them to be told they were away, didn’t know I was coming and not only could I unload myself, but did I have the new address? When they mentioned the address, I had passed it a few k back, so then not only had to find somewhere to turn a fully loaded b-double round safely, but had to go back. That time and the longer unloading time, though all went OK there, meant I was now looking at a tight run to get loaded that afternoon.

Got there in time, lovely loading site, hot breeze lifting the curtains, blowing my corflute about and had to of course, for my safety, have long sleeves etc to make nearly certain, I could suffer complete heat stroke. Out of there, first break for the day, but instructed to take a different route. Made that just, early the next morning then off again. We had tried to get in contact with the customer to arrange a Saturday delivery, in case of delays on the road. No one replied and so I rang Friday morning to confirm a time late Friday or Saturday. Not keen on Saturday, what time can I be there this afternoon? I suggested 5.15 to 5.30 and considering I was still in Brisbane and had to detour via Toowoomba to get further south, I thought I did well ringing at 4 to confirm arrival at about 5.15. the boss had agreed to stay back for me.

Details to get in from across the street, as you would have difficulty getting a b-double in the gate off the address road and then, thank goodness, another way out as it looked like a dead end once inside. Down the road, tried three places for food, one no, next two closed, but got something and a bit left from the frig, then down the road further and to bed early. Home Saturday, to then go and get some tyres fitted for another driver, thanks Rod.

There are drivers who have done more k’s. harder loads and tighter timeslots, this is not to say it is hard, but the majority of the issues I dealt with like most other weeks but perhaps, not so invasive, were both from others and mostly outside of my control, yet I have to make it work. Had I not got unloaded Friday afternoon, I may have been expected to stay away till I could unload Monday, not bloody likely.

All we ask for is good roads, suitable and sufficient rest areas and that those we share the road with, be taught to share it with us. Not completely unreasonable, yet it seems, very difficult to achieve and believe me, harder on your own with little support. What can or will you do, to help me achieve these goals? Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

8th December 2019 Bourke, here I went.

Goodaye all. Trying to get too much done, not enough time to keep up, so out of Dubbo late last Sunday afternoon, into Brisbane early Monday. Me rained on while looking where to park and where I had to be to then get backed in, to either be able to split and or, get in as a double to unload. Backed under a tree, cost, one branch and me wet more, checking all was OK. Hard to see above and behind you in the dark and the rain.

Wait for customer (thanks to daylight saving for getting in my break and it didn’t even fade the paint on the truck) where I had been told I would have to split to unload, not so and another b-double reversing challenge accepted and done in two goes, no rain thank goodness to unload. Another copy of Owner Driver to a customer, interested in the TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle and its curtains etc.

I had sought a day off if not needed and luckily that worked, so with thanks to Nick and Dave from Rod Pilon Tpt Brisbane, I was able to attend the HVNL Compliance and Enforcement meeting last Monday. Thanks to young mate and driver Nick for also making the effort. His first at of one of these sort of events and he had a go, contributed where he could and is keen to make a difference and see things improve. He admitted to being a little overloaded with detail and much to think and reflect on after the event, but like all these things unfortunately, there were from my point of view, not enough drivers with the only ones being him and I.

True the regulators and others must have a say, but who gets the most “in your face” compliance and enforcement issues? Drivers need to have more and better access to such events. The other side of course is the vast majority of those attending would be being paid whilst attending, or at least not be losing wages etc as drivers would and do.

I networked, offered a trip to a couple of prominent players, had one offer me a camera and am still to follow up on others. This one of four such meetings, aiming to solidify some of the input to the HVNL review papers and to gauge feelings on issues. Workshopping multiple themes, able to float and contribute between groups as needed or stay and watch and learn. Using an app to allow all to then vote on the outcomes from each group, seemed a good use of technology and a fair and open way to gain the feelings of the group attending.

Once back in the yard, load and away and back up the Gap, finally open since Friday and looking forward to the best feed of rissoles and salad on the road at Fisher Park, but they like many others lucky not to get burned out but with the road closed for a lengthy period, business seriously affected so had to have sausages, but still a terrific feed.

A couple of pick ups in Warwick, then a few drops and into Dubbo for the night, still in room K200 and up at 1AM for the Triple M Nightshift spot. Unloaded and reloaded while an axle problem addressed, off to Wagga for the night and catch up on diary and paperwork. Unload Wagga, unload Griffith and pick up Griffith, more reversing practice, more times here to get in and tighter too, letting cars through was my excuse and then into Melbourne, unload reload and off again.

A night at The Rock and planning for home Friday night till I got a phonecall, would I like to do a trip to Bourke tonight? Working out hours and stuff, details suggested a possible problem, but roadtrained out with a snack at Nyngan, Saturday long process unloading and swinglifting, but home in Dubbo at 4.45 so I can go to Melbourne following my regulation 24 hour break.

I did manage to find some green reflector bays, putting the industry needs first, as none out that way. Still a couple more to do one day and plenty of other roads as well.

Sunday and been to the library for some new audiobooks and music, done shopping for the week and cleaned the frig and half packed the truck. Still got lots to do and may defer audiobooks review for this week till next as have to fix a mudflap if I get time. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

1st December 2019 older and or crankier?

Goodaye all. So many things to attend and contribute to. I was invited to attend and even speak at the Heavy Vehicle Forum in Wagga Wednesday last, but as I could not guarantee it, deferred hoping to attend if I could. However I ended up getting some suspension repairs done in Dubbo, so missed that one, but was then contacted by ABC radio and did get to hear most of Phil Brooks comments in the interview they did with him after the event while on hold. I then had a chance to respond and covered most of my usual areas of concern.

I may still be able to get to the NTC meeting Brisbane Monday and am currently trying to sort that. I do recognise there is some feedback being put forward by the NTC from submissions and comments thus far and welcome the chance to get those comments out to more people, for further feedback. It must be a consultative process, otherwise we will be told by those who don’t have to do it, how to, yet again.

I must be getting older, or drivers are getting worse. None of us likes being tailgated and many will whinge about a truck being too close behind (and yes, some do, yet often we must be reasonably close, to have any chance of safely overtaking those who wish to travel below the speedlimit) yet more and more, even when there is no traffic behind them and even more ridiculously on dual lanes, cars overtake and then pull in front with less than a car length between us. They whinge when we are too close, yet do the exact thing they whinge about to us. If there is only two lanes and a car coming, I don’t want anyone on the wrong side for longer than necessary, but when there is no one and no need, why must they pull in so close? Please explain?

Those who must also pass the truck before the exit, no matter how close to the exit, then chop across in front of the truck are getting prolific. Some such racing car drivers, will then cross up to three lanes at the very last second and will take offence should I protest with the horn. I know life is short and hectic, but why must we try to make it much shorter and risk others lives, simply to save two seconds, yet often still be in the very same spot on the exit ramp. Most of our highway signage gives some warning, so you can access the correct lane before the exit, yes sometimes we miss such signs, but it is becoming worse and more dangerous that the odd one. It seems they simply must pass the truck at any cost to cut the truck off for the exit. Why???

I am getting a bit frustrated, still trying to get the next and last TIV on the road. To any with a million spare and a love of trucks, happy to put your name on it if you want to help.

Then we have all the other truckies getting older (and probably crankier too and no wonder with the antics above as not even a small part of the issues on the road). And mostly they too want better roads (not happening in many places, some even getting worse), better education of car drivers about sharing the road with trucks (some efforts here including my own with the Truckies Top Ten Tips and now the videos http://www.sharetheroad.net.au getting some extra traction on Facebook, please share if you agree) and not even just more, but better and sufficient rest areas.

How do we manage our fatigue if there is nowhere to park, sleep and go to the loo? We seem to be losing spots here and there in districts and areas across Australia, then getting one parking bay. We need a National Rest Area Strategy, not just for truckies, but for all road users. However, we are the only ones fined substantial amounts if we don’t stop when our inflexible and now camera supported logbooks say we must. Whether we are tired or not, whether there is shade and or a toilet or any food for miles, we must stop when a book tells you to. Does this manage our fatigue? No. Does it make the roads safer? No. Would better education of motorists and more rest areas improve road safety for all? Yes. Then why has it taken so long for the former and still no real effort on the latter?

Can you help? Yes you can, by making comment, being positive, spreading the word and doing your best to be compliant, yet holding the authorities to task to help us achieve compliance, not punishing us for failing to do it their way! I ask you now, do you think truckies are all bad? Do you think we honestly get a fair go?

I want you to watch every truck you see in the next week and keep a tally. How many just do the job well and safely and you in theory, may not notice them at all? But those that do the wrong thing (and this may only be wrong in your eyes as you are not driving the truck) are the ones you will remember and tell others about. I have asked this of radio presenters and each time they have come back with, “I didn’t realise how many trucks are on the road and that before, I only really saw those I thought were doing something I thought wrong”.

I would welcome any replies. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

24th November 2019

Goodaye all. Rushing to get to work now, a too short week-end. Late home Saturday, I got the TIV washed at the King of the Road Truckwash late Friday night, went to bed and then had a sleep in. Back to Dubbo, a bit off and a bit on, sorted but still have to finish some paperwork before I go. Got to BPW to have the EBS checked Monday, fixed one problem and found another, and hope to sort this week.

Earlier in the week came out of Brisbane to Toowoomba the Gap still closed, to get to Warwick for a pick up and the smoke was there all the way from Toowoomba to Warwick and on to Goondiwindi. Australia, a land of drought and flooding rains and then we add bushfires to fill out the list. Many affected and I fear it will get worse before it gets better. Thank you to all the fireies and others who have done their bit to help.

I managed to get to talk to the Senate inquiry at Albury Friday morning. Whilst I missed the NTC meeting in Melbourne Thursday, you can only do so much as an employed driver and whilst sometimes it works, it, like much of our jobs, is all too often well out of our hands. I had been contacted and offered a spot, but could not confirm till Thursday at the earliest as I had hoped to be in Melbourne for Thursday, then Albury Friday on the way home, but not so.

I thank Glen Sterle and the other members of the inquiry for giving me the chance to talk to them. I did add about the locked in and completely ridiculous way our living away from home and meals allowance are controlled now. In a previous discussion with Glen on the phone, he told me what the pollies get for meal allowance and whilst I do not begrudge them what they get, I don’t see any correlation in how they should be treated so differently.

I spoke first so I could get on the way to Melbourne and unload and reload etc and believe there was up to a dozen others to follow. I covered most of the contents of my written submission, offered all of the members of the inquiry a trip in the TIV (and Glen has confirmed he will take me up on it in the new year) and hope they can do something to see things change for the better.

Have to rush now to set myself up for the week. If you get stuffed about on the first night, it can have such a bad effect on the rest of the week, but those of you who drive, know all about it. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

17th November 2019 TWAL 20th Dinner.

Goodaye all. Last night I accompanied my daughter Katie and her partner Luke, to the Transport Women Australia Limited (TWAL) 20th Anniversary Gala Dinner in Melbourne. TWAL through their sponsorship from Daimler, have four scholarships available to help people improve their knowledge or advance their transport career. TWAL made other awards including the inaugural Pickering Memorial Award to Pam McMillan, for her over 18 years involvement with the group.

The four winners came from 4 different states and each has a different course or aim and my daughter Katie was one of the four winners. Katie aims to do a Certificate 4 in Transport and Logistics and her employer will also contribute to the course cost. The “Driving the Difference Scholarships” will help those achieve more I am sure. To my knowledge, these are the only scholarships of this type available to those within the transport industry and I would like to thank and congratulate Daimler and TWAL for the initiative.

Many other companies support TWAL, some like PACCAR, Cummins and Teletrac-Navman are also supporters of the TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle and without all those supporters, TWAL would not be able to work to encourage women into trucking. How many other groups go the extra mile to get young women in? There is a group in the USA as well and much like everything there, it is much bigger, but to all who have been involved here with TWAL since its inception, all involved now and those women who want to help and participate, even if only through being a member and doing their bit to improve things for all, I would heartily recommend you consider joining TWAL. Men can join as well to support and contribute and we need good young people to get involved.

One hundred and eighty-eight attended the dinner and it was well run and organised, congratulations to all involved. It is not often I get the chance to meet with those outside of drivers and yet, many of the conversations I took part in, centred on the other aspects and careers in the industry which are often over-looked. I was at the table with the four winners and each has a role that has given them a chance to contribute their skills and passion to an industry many love and enjoy.

I spoke with the four winners and hope they all do well in their careers. We have little positives in many ways in our industry as too often we only seem to attract the bad press and this is certainly one of those positives, an association of women helping others get involved in transport. Well done.
Many asked how I got there and thanks as always to Rod Pilon Transport for helping. I took a load down, did some rearranging Saturday before heading off to the dinner and have spent today taking it easy, though I have cleaned out the trailer toolboxes and caught up on some TV. I have a couple of drops to do in the morning and hope to get a couple of things looked at on the TIV before loading out tomorrow afternoon.

I had two incidents during the week, one a truck with overheating brakes that drew much comment on the UHF and another where a fellow said he did not see all the signs at roadworks. Thankfully he just overshot the queued traffic but copped an earful again on the radio. It could have been much worse, and both go to show, you can’t not watch and or be aware of what you are doing.

None of us are perfect, but one of those incidents could be lousy or no training, getting a license when that alone is not enough for you to survive on the roads and the other a lack of or loss of concentration. Either could have become a major crash or cost a life. How do we change that? How do we ensure that drivers know what is required and keep doing it? If you can answer that, you will make a difference.

Applications are open again for NHVR Heavy Vehicle Safety projects and if you have a safety idea, if you think you have the solution to a road safety problem, then make an effort to put in a submission. You may save a life or many, but that won’t happen if we all sit back and do nothing and expect others to do it for us. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.