13th January 2018. Rest Areas.

Goodaye all. This is rest areas month. We do not have enough suitable and sufficient rest areas for trucks. Yes there is a need for cars and caravans etc as well, but a car can safely pull up on most road shoulders and vanners have the option of a caravan park or even a motel. Trucks are not legally allowed to park in certain areas, no one wants them near their space, (but they want the goods they deliver) and you can’t simply park up to 68 tonne of b-double on the road shoulder and go to bed as you need or may be legally required to comply with hours laws.

The Australian Road Research Board (ARRB) did a study some years ago and it was found that not one of our major highways met the minimum standards for truck rest areas and there are more trucks, more cars and caravans on the road now. We have lost many minor sites, where someone thinks that is no good or unsafe, but we are never consulted nor I believe considered. There is no other group that live in these sites on the road and that are subject to such harsh penalties, if we do not comply with laws, designed and policed by others, who do not have to live by them.

These people have control over when they go to sleep and work, they have toilet facilities at home and at work, they have shade and food within their reach most of the day and we DO NOT. There are hundreds of stockpile sites where road crews keep materials and these sites often have shade and good hard stand ground, yet we cannot work together to utilise those sites. When new roads are built, the old road could very often be used for a truck bay at little or no extra cost, yet that doesn’t happen as much as it should either.

There is a deviation just completed south of Peak Hill at Trewilga on the Newell Highway. When the work was started, I rang and asked about getting one area as a truck parking bay. The work has just been completed and whilst I have rang and spoken to people during the works, every one of 5 separate areas we could have had at little or no cost has been torn up and I don’t mean closed, I mean completely destroyed, including good old road sections and other spaces I have been told we cannot have.

Toilets and shade and the design of truck parking bays is crucial to getting good sleep on the road and yet we are simply just given a bit of dirt too often. Then when we get good new facilities, if they are not designed to allow separation from other trucks, which then park less than a metre either side of you and then stop and start and slam the door when they only want a 15 minute break and you are trying to have a required 7 hour continuous break, so how do you get that? They pull down all the trees, so no shade and then the cars and caravans come in as well.

We released a video about sharing rest areas on http://www.whitelinetv.com please have a look and let me know what you think. We as truckies do not want tired car and or caravan drivers on the road, but we do not have the options you do and we do get fined huge amounts if we don’t comply. Road authorities say the biggest cost of rest areas is firstly the deceleration and acceleration lanes on major roads and then the upkeep or maintenance. So if we combine the facilities we all need, we should have more and better rest areas for less cost, than if we had separate ones for cars and trucks.

Think about this. How many cars do you see asleep in car only rest areas at night (where trucks are excluded by signs and or design) which have toilets and tables and chairs and shade that we cannot use at all, let alone at night and yet we are the ones required by law to sleep in such areas.

I welcome new truck rest area guidelines being currently developed that will hopefully see more understanding of our needs and the development then of better designs that will help us to get good sleep, we need shade and separation space and clean toilets too. I hope we can then get more suitable rest areas built for all road users, but we have a long way to go. What is your experience in road rest areas? I would welcome your thoughts. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

7th January 2018.

Goodaye all. How many of you travel the highways? Now a trip to see family on the highway does count, but how many of you do it each week? That is my job and the job of interstate or long distance truck drivers the world over. They leave their home and family to help you feed and clothe yours. They are in charge of and responsible for the truck and or trailers, in my case replacement value of the TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle would be well in excess of $650,000. Then you could have a load of chemical, or a big machine for the mines worth from half a million up.

So we are talking serious money in my charge. Then to make it earn its keep, I have to drive it. On our less than perfect, but yes, better than the good old days roads, but now I am in a bigger, longer and heavier combination and there are many more cars and caravans on the road. Then I have to be compliant with all the laws of each state I travel in, keep the customer, the boss, the police, the road authorities, the other motorists, the public and from your perspective, but certainly not mine, lastly my family happy.

Now if you can do that, that is a good start, but there is much more to the task. I have to fill in my logbook and be compliant with all the laws on time on the road, the size of the vehicle and what roads it can travel on, where I can legally park, try and find good food and or a rest area when I need one to safely manage my fatigue and of course, I have all those listed above I am trying to keep happy, telling me how to do it for their benefit or because they know better than me. Could they (or would they) do the job, of course not, it is too hard a life. Why would they want to live in a truck and deal with motorists who are not taught to deal with them?

How many of you have seen statistics listing the involvement of trucks in crashes? How often is the truck and or the truckie, made out to be the bad guy? Mostly. Too often any crash involving a truck, (often even if it only has a ute and a tiny local truck) it is deemed a truck crash, which implies guilt by default. It is not a crash involving a truck, it is a truck crash and yes, too often people die and worse, often the driver of the smaller vehicle. Yet if you look at the kilometres we do in a year and the fact, that the vast majority of fatal crashes between cars and trucks, are the fault of the car driver, we are not always the bad guy. Yet that is too often how we are unfairly portrayed.

We are not all perfect, we are human and we make mistakes, but my view generally is that all truckies go to work with one thing in mind and that is to get home to a family they see too little of. I had Mr Brendon Nelson do a trip with me when he was the Leader of the Federal Opposition, he even slept in the top bunk of the truck, perhaps a real and genuine enough person to have made a good Prime Minister, but maybe too nice a bloke for the job, for other people. He made a comment during the trip, that it must be hard to run a family by phone.

Yes we can talk to family better now than we could in the past, but I am sure many will agree, it is not the same as being there and if you are away more than home, not only does it put enormous pressure on your partner, it puts more on your children and your family as a whole and far too often, such families cannot survive it.

Continuing our song theme from last week, how many of you have heard John Williamson’s “A Truckie’s Wife”? One of the lines is “He’s more like an uncle-comes home with ice-creams and toys” and I would hope many of you will have a listen to the song and reply back to me. If you think there is a song that recognises truckies, their wifes’ and or their lives, I would like to know your thoughts. Maybe I will have to write one?

It will certainly have the line that “We go to work to get home safely, to a family we see too little of”. Travel safe in 2018, have a little bit of empathy for truckies on the road, give us some room to manoeuvre our larger vehicles and if you respect the size and weight of trucks, you will improve road safety for all. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.