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.

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