Trucks and Caravans and Rest Areas.

Goodaye all. Yesterday I attended the Retreat Caravans rally at Mudgee. I had been invited some time ago and having planned my Churchill Fellowship trip for this year, was unsure of my ability to attend. No one else had stepped up and having deferred my trip, I again offered to attend. I had deliberately chosen the 3PM timeslot to allow for what happens in this job.
Tuesday back into Dubbo from Brisbane, truck due for service and trailers due for rego inspection, so a day off, very unusual in the middle of the week, write the list and see how we go. Thursday morning trailers down for inspection, part loaded on the way back, filled nearly to the brim in the yard, then a bit more just to make life interesting and away at 4PM.
Into Brisbane 2.30 AM, took my break then into the yard to take off the extras, off to the first drop, going well, then to the second drop, 2 hours in the que, then, can I do a pickup, or two, depends what time I get out. Fellow unloading said, as you will all have heard before, no one came early this morning and there has been a que since 10 AM and he is on his own. To the pick-up, wait for an hour, then the forky had a problem getting the IBCs into the space on the floor and whilst I thought I was diplomatic, it was starting to look nasty, but the foreman came along and helped out, then we were underway. Not a chance of the second pick-up, but back to the yard to fill up and could barely even get in the yard. A further delay.
Finally loaded and off at 6PM, scoffed tea going up the Gap, at 67 tonne going slow enough, a cuppa at Goondiwindi but no copies of Owner Driver yet, damn and then to Bellata to bed. Up on hours but legal, so back to the yard, drop the trailers, home shower, in the car and got to the site at Mudgee just after two with time for a cuppa before set up.

Earlier that morning, travelling southbound through the Pilliga, a truckie on the UHF, “You are a #$%&*%$ idiot in the van, nearly took the bullbar off the front of the truck”. I replied, “I do understand your frustration, but abusing them (and few will be listening) will not help, surely trying to explain the problem would be better”. This of course sparked comments from others that “You will never educate them”, so I again replied, “Well I am off to try this afternoon, speaking to a group of vanners and yes, like us, they are not all perfect, but surely trying to educate instead of abusing them, will be better in the long run”.

Further down the road, “on the UHF again, “Bloody caravan has baulked me again, slowing down for the bottom of the hill, then speeding up, what a goose”. Through the roadworks and he deliberately did it again, it was obvious and so I said on the radio, “What a helpful vanner, looks like he did that deliberately” and the reply was, “I did”. I again called up, “So why would you do that mate?” Reply, “I’m not your mate”, my reply, “Obviously, but why would you do that?” No reply.

Truck in front of me got the one behind the van to read off the rego and he rang the Police and they said they would come out and have a chat with him. The three vans then separately pulled off and let us all (now a que of over 10 vehicles) past, with the last van, the offender, stopping in a rest area. Had I not been running late, I would have stopped to chat nicely and explain.

Discover Downunder were on site at Mudgee and did an interview with me prior and then filmed a bit of my presentation and we hope they will extend the message even further.

Slight technical difficulties meant I could not use the videos embedded in my Powerpoint presentation, but a good crowd, unfortunately due to time, no copies of my “Rvers Survey” to give out nor copies of Owner Driver, which this month details the story of the truckie listed previously here, who overtook a van nearly running a car off the road. I was hoping to show the vanners, I was not completely biased and was aware we too, as truckies have to do the right thing.

We could though show the sharing rest areas video as below and it was welcomed and applauded at the end. One suggestion was a petition to get more rest areas built and I hope to have this up later today. I welcome your comments and hope it is accepted in the theme in which it was done, sharing rest areas.

Thanks to the Retreat Caravans Family Group for the invite, to Discover Downunder for the filming and to Stephen at Whiteline Television for the video. Please share it. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.



17th September 2017. Issues.

Goodaye all. Got home yesterday and been busy since. Have raised the issues of personal use of heavy vehicles, (just submitted to NHVR and then posted my submission to Facebook to show I do actually participate and not simply ask others to do so) fatigue research needing participants, otherwise we will be stuck with rules made, policed and overseen by others who do not have to live by them and asked people to contribute to the update of the National Road Safety Strategy.

I put bits up on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and now am including same here. It is very hard to get truckies to participate, many do not learn of the need for comments till too late, if at all and many still even ask me, why do I bother when nothing has changed for years. I do understand their cynicism, we have not solved the industries problems yet and better men than I have tried. Yet if we all expect someone else to solve our problems, then we are doomed to continue to suffer from them.

The closing date for submissions for the personal use is the 30th September and I first saw it perhaps a week ago, but how many others drivers even knew? Such things should be in industry press the month previous to get good responces, otherwise we might become cynical and say it was put out with the aim of not really giving us the chance to contribute. Sacre Bleu!

Last week I was approached by a driver who had his window smashed at Moree and I followed this up with Owner Driver who have since ran an online story (and any affected, please at the very least ring the Police so the issue can be pursued, if you don’t then no one will know the full extent of the problem) and the week end prior, attended the AGM of the National Road Freighters Association at the Kenworth plant in Bayswater.

We had expected more to attend being at the plant and including a tour of the factory, but times are tough and it is a long way and huge cost, let alone the time off work for anyone north or west of Victoria. Kenworth welcomed us and I cannot thank them enough for their professionalism and support. The factory tour does show you the effort they go into and whilst we no longer make cars here, we do trucks for our market very well. The TIV K200 owned by Rod Pilon Transport is now over 1.3 million kilometres and still looks and operates well, surely a testament to a terrific product. Yes I will sing their praises and hope they will support the next TIV, if I don’t recognise those who help and support me with the TIV, they will not see the value in that support.

Next week I will follow up with the fatigue research. Any who are interested please check out the NTC website so you have an idea of what it is all about. Yes again, I will be asking for others to participate, but I have all ready put many hours into this on the phone and will continue to push for a result that recognises our issues and needs. Some think the results are already decided and the rules will be changed against us, so the only way to make sure we get heard, is to take part. Please share these issues, discuss them with other drivers, as only one voice, I simply cannot do it alone.

I welcome those who read this and hope to show that most truckies do have more than just the aim, of earning a dollar. There was another media hatchet job on all of us, yet none of us wants the idiots who bring us all done, on the road either, but how do we achieve that? When you find out, please let me know. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.


10th September 2017. Interaction

Goodaye all. The way we interact with people not only has an impact on our own lives, it can have much further influence on how we are treated by others and even more distant, but still relevant, how we are seen by other groups.

None of us likes getting a ticket from the Police and for those with big mouths and small brains, bagging the coppers (or road authorities or road workers etc) for just doing their job, will only ever confirm the bagger’s stupidity and at the least, will only make the baggee less likely to be reasonable or perhaps, even human, and at the worst, it could mean the next person getting a ticket will cop it more. We can be frustrated over delays at roadworks and even, wonder about the costs and time taken to fix a bit of road, but abusing those on the side of the road will only reinforce the view that the baggers (and his kind) are idiots.

On my Facebook page, “Audiobooks for the road”, I have just reviewed “The Dry”, the debut novel of Jane Harper. A dinkum Aussie story of a town in drought and people with secrets and yes, this is fiction, but I am sure many of you have heard that truth can be stranger (and perhaps even worse), than fiction. In the story, a new local country cop comes on a murder/ suicide involving the shooting of a young boy and it really made me think of the life of a cop. Giving out tickets must be a damn side easier than dealing with murderers, rapists and drug freaks, but I think many forget that side of things.

As I said above and have said on the UHF after an outburst against a copper, true we don’t like getting a ticket, but abusing them and suggesting nasty things about their parentage, will not make you less guilty, it will only makes things worse. We all might abuse a stupid car driver to ourselves in the truck, but winding down the window and doing so is, I believe a step too far. Similarly, abusing a caravanner over the UHF (or even more foolishly a car driver who is very unlikely to hear you, but you want to be a big man by abusing them and showing all how tough you can be), will that help?

Will it educate the abused to understand what they did wrong, will they learn how to do something better or safer in the future, or are they simply more likely to think all truck drivers are idiots? Surely you have all heard from the man himself or about a “mate” who got out of the truck and told the copper/scalie what a goose he was and he put him in his place. How would you respond to such an introduction? Would you then offer your hand to shake? Of course not. If you launch out of the truck in any situation with a mouthful of abuse and bad manners, can you then expect to be treated fairly.

There is a story of a truckie who did this and the copper got out his book and started writing tickets, the truckie kept abusing him etc and eventually, his brain slowly activated and he said to the officer, when will you stop writing those tickets and the copper replied, “When you calm down and shut up for a second”. These officers can have a gun and or a pen and sometimes the pen is mightier than the sword, or gun in this case at least. If you want respect from those who pull you up on the side of the road, you must first give it to get it back, you must earn it.

If they do not give it in return, then you do have the right to take that up with their superiors. If you don’t, who will tell them of the actions of the person on the side of the road and how many drivers will be badly treated by such a person with no overarching close authority. Help all your mates on the road by being fairer, understanding those who do not understand us, offering advice instead of abuse and we will all live happily ever after. Sorry for the fairy tale ending, but which way do you want things to go? Do you want things to improve, or  get worse? I can only do so much as an individual, but imagine what we could all achieve, if we just slightly changed a couple of things we do.

Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.


1st September 2017 Anti trucking 1?

Goodaye all. A couple of years ago we had an issue at Boggabilla with young locals throwing rocks at trucks as they went through the village. It is a 50 KPH zone and we have to slow to do a 90 degree turn at the Wobbly Boot pub as part of the Newell Highway. The vent on the side of the TIV still bears the scar from a rock. One elderly car driver had his windscreen smashed and then hit a pole and a truck driver got glass in his eye and was taken to hospital and they are two serious events I was told of, though I also heard of many others where rocks were thrown at trucks.

Boggabilla was a problem with the local Police station being across the road from where it was happening, but not always manned and though the Qld Police are only 10 minutes away in Goondiwindi, the closest NSW Police are in Moree, over an hour away, so reporting it got it listed, but little else done. I rang industry associations and they too spoke with Police and I tried the Gundi paper with no responce.

The problem seemed to move to Moree when the bypass was opened. A long fence was put up along the train line which now paralleled the highway, but the locals seem to have a problem with the fence and not only keep cutting holes in it, they also have a large supply of railway ballast rocks to throw at trucks while they hide behind the shrubs. By the time we pull up, they have bolted into the dark. Two weeks ago a northbound driver called me up saying they were at it again, his truck had been hit by a rock, so I asked had he rang the Police? He was about to pull up and check for damage and would ring then.

Last week as I was having tea at Bellata, another driver told me he had his left hand window smashed on his way through Moree, he had rung the Police and reported it, but now had glass all through his bedding, could not secure the truck, would lose hours getting it fixed and could have been hit in the head by the rock, if he had not had the window up. When this first started to happen, I again rang industry associations, they contacted Police higher up and were told there would be a campaign in the schools etc. I contacted RMS, as they had built the road and my understanding was that some funding would be made available to light the section, so the throwers could not hide in the dark and the fence would be fixed.

Not only do the locals keep cutting the fence, they smash some of the lighting there now and all are frustrated, Police, RMS, council etc, but they of course, are not getting rocks thrown at them. Unless Mr Trump comes here and builds a wall, it is not possible to get rid of all the rocks, the lighting has not been improved and the shrubs are now big enough for a man to hide behind, let alone a few kids. I have suggested to RMS to at the least, remove the shrubs so we can see anyone there and to fix and extend the lighting, but the ARTC “own” the verge and the shrubs and we all know how quickly government bodies are to act on such important matters.

What have we done to deserve having our lives at risk doing our job and driving on a national highway? It is bad enough with uneducated car drivers trying to kill us each week, but now we even have kids against us. Years ago we had a truck driver tragically killed by someone who threw a rock off an overpass, it was not the first event, but thankfully to my knowledge, the only death and now, all overpasses are fenced.

What can be done to stop this stupidity, who will act before a driver is killed by a rock and who will be responsible if it does happen? How can people get away with it and why are trucks the target? If you have been affected, what have you done and who have you reported it to. We cannot touch them, even if we could catch them, so what will be done to stop this? Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.