27th January 2018.

Goodaye all. Submissions for the NHVR Electronic Work Diary proposal close on the 30th January. I will publish my submission here.

TRUCKRIGHT ABN 17426245866
TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle (TIV) 2018.
Rod Hannifey, Road Transport and Road Safety Advocate, TIV Driver and Operator. Telephone: 0428 120560 Email: rod@truckright.com.au Website: http://www.truckright.com.au
TRUCKRIGHT Awarded Highly Commended, 3M ACRS Diamond Road Safety Awards 2015. Finalist 3M ACRS Diamond Road Safety Awards 2016, Green Reflector Marking Informal Truck Bays. Awarded Churchill Fellowship 2016.
EWD Submission from Rod Hannifey January 2018.
The current logbook when introduced by the NTC suggested that 10 minutes was sufficient for a break or change of activity, but due to the logbook being in 15 minute increments, it was agreed to have that time as the minimum. If EWDs are to record to the minute as I understand, then it must be agreed how time will be counted. The authorities have long had their way saying that rest time less than 15 minutes is not rest and work time less than 15 minutes is 15 minutes work. That means we can be robbed of time or lose it and cannot get it back. That could mean if I work for 5 minutes, but show 15, I can lose 10 minutes, and for four times, that is 40 minutes and if I need that time to achieve any objective, it is lost and you will fine me severely for working over hours. Similarly, if I stop for 25 minutes, currently I can only record 15 minutes rest and lose 10 minutes, four times that, another 40 minutes lost, so over an hour I cannot control or use to the best intent of my fatigue and comfort.
I propose that any work time be counted and tallied by the minute, so 18 minutes work time is 18 minutes and that rest, where I agree that 2 minutes rest is not reasonable, that rest from 10 minutes or over be counted as the time involved. I have been led to believe that the current intent is for a 20 minute break, to only count 15 minutes rest, but start the next period from the 20 minutes. If this is how you propose to cheat us of our time, then no one that has to deal with customers who do not value or pay for our time, will voluntarily fit an EWD. (I have just been informed at a meeting with NHVR that they cannot change the law to accept 10 minutes as rest, but will be counting rest time above 15 minutes as rest, so 25 minutes rest will be 25 minutes rest.)
WA rules allow that a walk around the truck is a change in activity, yet if I look at a tyre, in other states that is work. Not only is this impossible to control or monitor, it leaves us open to more litigation.
The next step from that is work time, loading etc. When I arrive at a site, I will hit rest. No one will run backwards and forwards to the truck, each time they change activity and we have no control over times on site, let alone delays. Do you really think that a forkie or anyone will wait for my 15 minutes rest to roll over, before I move the truck or a gate etc, or that we will happily be on site for an hour and give all that time away when my physical loading time may be only 20 minutes. Until such time as COR solves this issue or we get paid for any time on site above a prearranged loading time, then I seek to have the ability to log work time after loading. I cannot guess how long or badly I will be screwed around on site and you will then argue I lied, if I put time down and then want it back. For a driver who does 3 or 4 drops in a day, he could be cheated of well over 2 hours.
I have an EWD device fitted to help with what we need and to find problems. I have contacted my supplier with issues regarding how it can better help me with information displayed, warnings of upcoming breaks etc, but there are two big issues. Once the clock starts for each period, I am running to meet the next time deadline, whether a break or hours maximum. I have spoken to other drivers with fleet systems and they too complain of this and drivers in the USA regularly complain of this minute monitoring and its effect on stress and compliance. If I am two minutes late with a logbook, it is not an issue, nor is it in any way a safety issue, but with an EWD, it could be.
I have previously asked for a 30 minute tolerance, even if only twice a week for those days when everything goes bad and all of those things are beyond my control. I am aware of the proposed 8 minute tolerance and also that authorities wanted not one second allowed and if that does not show they are in it for the money and not safety, I don’t know what does. I do not run to maximum hours every day. I never intend to run to maximum hours, but there are times when those hours allow me a better place to eat or sleep. There are still times now, 90% caused by customers or others over who I have no control, that I have to decide on a decent meal, a shower, or another hours sleep.

Allowing the 30 minutes twice a week would recognise that I cannot control others, that COR is yet to reach all and if I go beyond that, then you will fine me as you do now. For drivers who do not deal with customers etc, it will not matter, but for those of us who do, you will be making us criminals due to the simple lack of empathy for truck drivers by others.
My view is that you must meet us somewhere in the middle or no one will want an EWD. For some jobs, it will be an improvement, for others, it has all ready cost them lost earnings and substantial stress as companies use the device to cover themselves for hours etc. Until we have suitable and sufficient rest areas and customers will be held responsible for delays, then you must have some understanding of the job. Currently the laws and penalties are designed, implemented and policed by those who do not have to live by them, who have every facility available to them within reach, yet we live on the road where those facilities can be rare and are at the mercy of customers who do not care if we wait hours for them. Distribution centres who give you a 15 minute window in which to arrive from nearly 1000 kilometres away and yet then expect you to happily be stuffed about for up to 4 hours. This must be fixed before you completely take away our flexibility. Thank you, Rod Hannifey.

I add this here not to influence you or suggest you should resend it as is. I add it to cover my thoughts and hope you will consider other issue you see and raise them now! Once it is law, it is too late and it is hard enough to get heard before, but after it is law, good luck on getting any changes through.

My meeting with the NHVR was fruitful and has allayed but not completely removed some of my concerns. However, I am sure most of you have seen the Toll letter and the comments from some about making EWDs mandatory. Of course by those who will never have to live under them. Yes, we have to do more and there are some truckies that should not be, but the rest of us should not be punished and micromanaged to the tiniest degree, because of them. It is like saying because one politician did the wrong thing, so all should be controlled more. Is that the answer, no.

Please make your thoughts and comments known to the NHVR by contributing a submission and perhaps, we will get a better result. I have just got home from filming our next issue of TRUCK That and tomorrow should have the ABC 7.30 report coming for a trip from Dubbo to Toowoomba, hopefully to better see and feel things from our seat.

Thanks to VicRoads for finally overlaying the northbound section of the Hume at Erreys Road, it has taken nearly 4 years to get that bit done, but only a 7 out of 10 for the job, still some minor undulations there which I fear, will again become bigger over time.

I would also hope many pollies read Steve Shearers comments on the issues raised from the crashes of the last couple of weeks. Let is hope we get good improvements in safety for all, not just knee jerk reactions form those who want to be seen to do something, even if that something makes things worse. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

21st January 2018 A tragic week.

Goodaye all. It has been a tragic week for crashes and deaths on the road and unless any of us were involved in each of these incidents, we can only go on what we hear and learn from press and others and most of them, were not there either. Yes in weeks, months or years, there will be completion of a crash inquiry and for those involving deaths, a Coroners Report, but that will not stop a crash tomorrow and is so far away, we are unlikely to learn much to help now.

Following the tanker crash the CEO of Toll issued a letter to the Prime Minister and others as an operators perspective, saying we have had enough inquiries and that we must do something now and that was before the Dubbo crash. He also said Toll as the biggest, must be included.

These are his 6 points taken from a copy sent to me by one of the media groups I spoke to. 1. Have one rule book for heavy vehicles and drivers across the country including  a national approach to mandatory stationary rest times, speed limits and driver licensing. (abridged) 2. Introduce a national operator licensing system. 3. Enhance community understanding of how to drive around trucks, including through the graduated licensing system and education campaigns. 4. Incentivise and reward safe, modern fleets with life-saving technologies. 5. Make telematics mandatory for regulatory purposes. 6. Draw on private sector expertise from transport operators in any discussion on improving road safety outcomes pertaining to heavy vehicles.

I applaud him making the effort and he is far more likely to have the Prime Minister take note, than he will of my list. I agree with points  1, 3 and 6 with the note 6 must also include those who live and work on the road, not just the big companies who are not there for us, as drivers. In point one he mentions mandatory stationary rest times, but completely fails to mention the lack of rest areas or penalties, or lack of flexibility.

I have done a number of media interviews during the week and heard others. I do agree with the Australian Trucking Associations’ call for better crash investigation and this has been asked for by others for many years. How can we change things if we do not have the unbiased and unemotional data from those who can do a complete investigation? Those involved at such sites have enough tragedy to deal with at the time and later investigations can have media push and frenzy, pushing them for someone to blame.

In the media I said that there must be drivers involved with any of this, as I have for years. I have pushed to get better notice of industry requests for submissions towards better outcomes and my view is that those who make, implement and police our laws, do not have to live by them and have all the toilets, facilities and their needs met close at hand, when there are not even enough rest areas, let alone recognition of the job we do and the life we lead, to feed and clothe every Australian.

So this is my list and I would welcome your thoughts. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

  1. Driver education is the biggest issue. For car drivers about sharing the road with trucks, to learn 60 plus tonne of b-double will not stop, simply because you pulled out in front of it, is a bad lesson to learn as it kills you. We do not teach young people (who like you and I are all bullet proof when they get their license) about sharing the road with large trucks. If we included a video of the Truckies Top Ten Tips at time of licensing, that would help. It is visual and so will be retained, it could be done from the truckies seat and so be accurate and surely 10 minutes at time of licensing towards the next 60 years on the road, is not too much to give. There must also be better training of truck drivers, particularly those who come from overseas. All must be tested and capable, instead of just being given a license when they may never have driven trucks of the size we operate here. A national licensing system with national standards can only come when we have suitable training.
  2. The impacts that our roads have on crashes is often overlooked. Yes our roads are better than they were in most places, but our maintenance is terrible. There is a section of the Cunningham Highway just south of Yelarbon that I have been asking to have fixed for over 4 years! It is dangerous. Yet after threatening to make more noise, they got surveyors out who agree it is a problem, but they have no money to fix it they say. I told them if there is a fatality there, I will hold them responsible as they knew and did nothing about it and this is everywhere. Roads must be built and repaired to a safe standard, not patched each week, or have the patch make it worse. Road irregularities that cause impacts that are double the weight of the truck, because the surface is so bad, (and I can document and list these) will kill people. There must be a national road standard, so that I can show a problem that is likely to cause and or contribute to a crash, that it is fixed quickly, not in 5 years. There must also be some value in what we get for our money. Fifteen, million dollar machines all idle while 3 blokes sweep a road, is not good value. There must be some warranty period, so that they can’t just come back next week and charge again, for a lousy repair in the first place.
  3. Rest areas. There are not enough! How can we manage our fatigue when there is no shade, not enough room to get away from a frig van or stock truck or to open your windows and bunk doors, or if you are lucky enough to have an ICEPACK, to get far enough away not to interrupt some other drivers sleep. We need sites to encourage car drivers to stop, so they need to be clean and have toilets, we need enough for caravaners so they do not take up truckies spots, we need sites with all the facilities for all, as we cannot afford and never should have, separate sites for each. If well designed, such sites will suit all and with more cars stopped during the day and more trucks stopped at night, we will get the best utilisation and benefit for the money spent. Like the roads, do it once, but do it right.
  4. We need recognition that not all people or drivers are the same and that the fatigue regulations must have some flexibility for different people. Telematics for companies to monitor is fine, but micromanaging drivers to the minute and the metre, will not stop crashes. Yes we need rules, but a fine in the thousands of dollars because a driver went 15 minutes further to get a toilet, a shower or a better meal, and they are becoming harder to find, cannot be justified.
  5. Yes we need national regulations. We are closer now than we have ever been and it must be completed. I do agree to some differences, but not thousands. National registration and licensing to give both a view to how we operate, what we need and a base line for those entering the industry is good, but not to exclude all so big companies can do what they like. If you help or subsidise big companies to adopt new technologies, how will the little bloke ever compete. In the aim of fairness, we should be helping the little bloke to be safer and more competitive and give better service.
  6. There must be more truck driver input and understanding of the job by all. Yes car drivers are on the road with us and yes, they too have a right to have a say, but few of them have ever been in a truck and so how can they understand trucks, let alone tell us what to do. Our industry is so wide spread and diverse, we cover from one end of the country to the other and we have so many different parts, livestock, general, tippers, tankers, frig vans, oversize etc, that we struggle to get together and agree on what we need.

I cannot fix the problem, nor can you, but if we do recognise those that do the job, I believe we will get a better response. Some of the media did recognise the improvements we have made, some did specify that the majority of car/truck fatal crashes are the fault of the car driver, but many did not know nor were they interested. I “expert” raised concerns about the safer b-doubles being involved in these crashes and that implied they were not as safe as told, but has he ever been in one?

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.