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.