28th April 2018 Rest Area Design.

Goodaye all. I have just finished reading the draft document “Guidelines for the Provision of Heavy Vehicle Rest Area Facilities” from ARRB. This study was brought about following my request to the NTC to revisit their 2005 document on the same theme. I contributed to that document, but was unhappy with the way it was produced, showing only one herringbone design, though there was wording describing parallel parking as well and that took months of emails and phone calls and fights, to even get that printed and it has not been looked at since then.

I asked that we needed something both to provide better guidance to those building and designing such sites from those who use them and that it would hopefully ensure we got better outcomes for the future. The biggest problem now, behind the simple lack of sufficient and suitable sites, is that those built now, even with the best of good intent, will be around for the next 20 to 30 years and if they do not provide what we need to get good quality sleep, then we have an even bigger fatigue problem looming in the future.

With the growing number of trucks due to the increasing freight task, driven by the growing number of people, then the simple fact is that with more trucks, cars and caravans, we will need more rest areas for all. Governments are slow to act and even slower to help us, because they of course do not sleep in rest areas on the side of the road. They have toilets on every floor, facilities for heating meals and coffee on every floor and more choices for food in one block, than we might have in 200 kilometres. But have they made much effort in the last 20 years, no.

How many rest areas do you know where a truck can access shade and a toilet. Sorry to test you with two things, I could add tables and chairs and separation from other vehicles, but that would narrow the number down much more. Yet we are tasked to manage our fatigue when someone else tells us to do so, by a book and even worse, by severe penalties should we not do it their way. In the past, yes we may have moved things a bit, because we wanted to drive when we were fit and then sleep when we were tired.

I stopped in Moree one afternoon some years ago. I was out of hours and tried to sleep in 47 degree heat with no shade and how much sleep do you think I got (and no such thing as an Icepack then)? If I had the chance to drive at least till the sun went down or to a suitable rest area (finding shade can be near impossible at times), I would have been safer doing that, but operating illegally. So I stopped and rested sort of and when I could legally leave, I was still buggered. The law has changed and now I cannot legally drive when fatigued and whilst there is as yet not even a working definition of fatigue, let alone a way to measure it, in the near future, there will be devices that can.

Then we have Safe-t-Cam and now the ever expanding National Camera Network monitoring heavy vehicles that will not only take away any minor flexibility I have now and put us not only into tighter boxes, but will punish us even more if we do not do it their way. Next is EWDs again taking away any flexibility what so ever and watching me to the minute and the metre. So if I have driven for the last 40 years without an accident, managed my fatigue safely and this is rarely recognised, I just can’t change that now, because someone else thinks they know better than me when I am tired.

And if I do not have a suitable rest area that provides shade and a toilet, how will I get that needed sleep? Yes we have Icepacks and other systems to try and improve temperature control, but not everyone does and then there are those in frig vans  with motors to keep the goods cold and also stockcrates with live animals and their drivers need good sleep too, but I am not used to that noise and if I pull up in good faith and a frig truck or stockcrate driver pulls up beside me as he has nowhere else to go, who do I tell who cares about my sleep and health?

Then we have the growing RV population of baby boomers and others who want to travel and keep their costs down so they can spend more time on the road and some will use a truck bay. That in itself sounds OK, we do not want tired RVers on the road either, but they have more choices than we do and will not get a $600 fine if they cannot pull up when legally required.

I am hoping ARRB and the NTC will seek some more input from other users as the more comments, hopefully the better the outcome. I have lodged a number of issues in my initial reply and did get a chance at the start, so some of the work is a welcome step forward, but if you look at my efforts now of over 19 years to get bits of dirt marked with now green reflectors and the only highway completed is the Newell, then we have a long way to go and put simply, we don’t want to drive tired either, but need more and better places to sleep. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

22nd April 2018. Etiquette.

Goodaye all. The http://www.truckingnation.com.au website is the place for all our efforts now. To those who had tried to join the drivers club, our apologies for not being computer geeks and having it perfect from the start. And Stephen and his wife deserved the holiday that happened to nearly coincide. It should now be fixed and simple, yet as with all things, there is always room for improvement and we welcome any constructive feedback.

The reason we ask for where you run etc, is to set up a database for each road so we can message or ring you if needed, to comment and then respond to a problem or issue. We will not send or ring just for fun, we will aim to keep such things to a minimum and to those who know what we are talking about and can respond with knowledge and awareness. We also ask for what weight and freight you cart and how far, so in the future we can say our members carry a thousand tonnes a week and travel a million k’s a month and this will only help with our credibility and in being recognised as a group that does do the job.

Now we want you to get your mates involved, to spread the word about and the videos themselves to get more involved. Like any group, union or organisation, it will only ever achieve what it can with the support and participation of its members. So in some ways it is up to you.

I have responded on the website to the forum on etiquette started by Stephen. Simply put, doing the right thing. I had a driver ask me about flashing others in (and had a different discussion with Yogi about the same issue during the week). What do you do? Why do you do it? Do you have a problem with what others do and why? Yes the driver who called me on the UHF and then rang (my number is in Owner Driver) complained about those with terrific spotties not just flashing you back in, but holding them on till you pull over and if you complain, the usual happens. Surely in the dark a simple touch will do unless you have lousy lights and it is surely up to the driver when he or she will pull back in.

If you are the overtaking party, do you have to show me how good you are by nearly taking the shine off the corner of the bulbar as you pull in. With the new technology, if you pull back in too early, you will affect the Active Cruise or Automatic Emergency Braking and if there is no one behind you for kilometres, why do you have to pull in so close?

Yes, if there is a que of traffic behind you, then the overtaker should move over as soon and safe and reasonable and or the overtakee, should consider helping his mate to do the right thing. I will not slow going uphill fully loaded, but will make the effort to help another driver most of the time. However, if you sit a foot off the back of the truck and cannot call etc, you may be there awhile.

RPT trucks are now limited to mostly 97 and we did do a stint at 95 and on the top end of the Newell, that was an issue with caravans and roadtrains. One night I got six trucks round me in one hit because it was safe to do so, I made it all happen on the radio and I generally do not want either someone sitting up my backside when there is nowhere to pass safely for kilometres, or then passing when it is not safe. Do you call if you catch up and wait, or do you sit there too close till you can pass? Don’t take offence, we are all human, and surely we can talk together. If not, we are lost.

We are all out here together and there is no one else who cares a damn about us, so if we cannot work together, it will be a more lonely and less enjoyable job. We have all been taught differently and act and behave differently, but we can improve things if we try. Let’s make up something we can all agree to (yes my rose coloured glasses getting a run here) and then we can start with one thing sorted and then educate the rest, then move onto the next thing. Little steps? What do you say?

Now for those of you car drivers out there, you are not meant to be excluded. Do you understand what I am talking about and do you have a view? Trucks run at different speeds and must be allowed to overtake, but two trucks running side by side for kilometres does not help anyone. Your views are welcome as well.

Have any of you seen the new campaign by the NHVR about talking it (safety etc) over with a mate featuring Shane AKA Kenny from TV? Any comments or thoughts please. Safe Traveling, Rod Hannifey.

 

14th April 2018

Goodaye all. A big week with two lots of tyre troubles and family issues to boot. The hardest part of this job is not being there for your family. Yes they can ring much of the time, but when you are loading etc and need to meet a timeslot, you can’t simply stop for 15 minutes to talk and give them the time they need, as no one else cares about your problems and the world must go on. On the road is different, but you can’t always be there or available when you should, or wish you could be.

How will we ever attract young people into a job that does not recognise this problem? If you look at the money we earn, you might well say it is good money. But when you look at the conditions under which we work, living in a truck, trying to eat and live on the road, let alone in some way healthily and you work out the hourly rate for the life you lead, then it does not look so good. Add to that the roads on which we travel, the people who we share the roads with and the lack of respect for the job we do, would you do it?

In this last 6 days since I left home, I have had at least three close calls. A car who could not wait for me to pull out of a tyre repair shop and sped up to get around me as I exited, they were not there as I pulled out and I missed the back of the ute by inches, a car overtaking another coming at me around a corner and just getting back in without hitting me and others who could not wait to see clear road, but had to pass without sufficient safe roadspace, putting both their and their passengers lives in danger as well as my own, only to get round the next corner and have two kilometres of clear and empty road.

How do you balance that and maintain a family life? It is hard and I am not alone. Many drivers now tell their kids if they go anywhere near a truck, they will kick them that hard they will not land for a week and they already know how much impact the life of an interstate truckie will have on family. Many have lost their family, some more than once, only trying to earn a living and feed that family.

There are times when I think is it worth it? Yet I have made my job my hobby and my passion as well. You can either spend your time in the truck complaining and whingeing or you can try and get some value from the time you have alone on the road and there is lots of that. I wish I had the answers and whilst none of this is your problem, I just would ask for you to give it some thought and maybe you have the answer.

I did get to watch What’s Up Downunder on television this afternoon. It covered the show when they attended the Retreat Caravan Rally in Mudgee last year, where I also¬† attended and launched our “Sharing rest areas” video. I was interviewed by Macca and they showed a bit of my seminar and I would like to thank the show and the Retreat Caravan Club for the invite and the opportunity to talk to their members. We as an industry need to do more of this, but how do you do it when you drive fulltime? I was not able to attend with the truck then and drove over in the family car (which has been off the road now for months and they cannot fix the problem, yet another issue I can’t resolve) and hope that the message was as well received as I can deliver it.

I did fail to mention the website for the TRUCK That, TRUCK That RV videos and the TRUCK That Australia Drivers Club. Go to http://www.truckingnation.com.au and have a look and I would welcome your comments. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

7th April 2018. Join the TRUCK That Australia Drivers Club.

Goodaye all. Well for something that I thought about years ago, it is good to see it become a reality. I suppose this is the second time such a thing has happened in my trucking world. The first was the TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle (TIV). It was never real, until Ken Wilkie asked me if with his truck, would that get my idea started. And without that, the TIV may have never come to exist. Here it is now, the concept about to reach ten years. Wow! Who wants to buy me a truck and or trailers to see it reach 15?

I had thought of a drivers club some years ago, planning to go with the TRUCKRIGHT Drivers Club. There was a need then, but how to get it up without the opposition of the union and other groups? It did seem too hard to even contemplate and it is one thing to do something yourself, but another to get many others involved and on board. The catalyst for this birth, was probably “Operation Rolling Thunder” and the way, as always, that the authorities and press seemed to want to portray us. Show all the bad with bad statistics and ignore the good.

The number of people that were watching the Blockade 2018 site and the rabble it became, certainly showed two things. The first was there was a lot of disgruntled and unsatisfied drivers out there not happy with how we were shown and the second was don’t use Facebook as the platform for such a venture. The other factor was undoubtedly, TRUCK That. Meeting with Stephen McCarthy and doing the “Sharing Rest Areas” video struck a chord between us with Stephen then saying there was a gap in industry media and we should give it a go and try and fill it.

That has given us a showcase for our efforts and I hope it is recognised for what it is, two truckies having a go at something so different, that it is a genuine effort to see things change. Whilst we are still doing it and now TRUCK That RV as well and keen, it has given us a springboard for the drivers club. There are those who have a problem with what I do for some reason. I rarely get it to my face, but others tell me of those who belittle my efforts and that is fine, you can’t please all the people all of the time.

The TRUCK That Australia Drivers Club surmounts that problem of being just me and has the backing as such of the videos and another partner in Stephen. This not only gives us more spread and ability to reach people, it did simply mean we could not sit back and do nothing with all the drivers who want things done and either could not find a home or group that they would support.

I know how frustrated we all become when nothing seems to change. I recognise we have been asking for 20 years to have better roads, rest areas and to do something to educate car drivers about sharing the road with trucks and I have been trying for that long, but it is hard on your own. I have tried and dealt with nearly every group in that 20 years and have been told both that nothing will change, or you will never get anything to change.

I have certainly not achieved all I want to, but I am proud of the TIV and even in just getting the Newell done with green reflectors and surely you must give me at least an “A” for effort there, this year it is 19 years since I first asked and the first blue reflectors went up. You could say, gee that took you a long time, what have you been doing, but trust me if you knew, you would not complain.

Our industry session on the Nightlife with Phil Clark on the ABC Tuesday night, with myself and Sharon Middleton from Whiteline Transport went fairly well and I have received some nice calls and comments for it. I also spoke with Luke Bona on the Nightshift on TripleM on Friday morning and he is a keen supporter of the drivers club idea.

So where to from here, let’s get some members in and see what we can do.

During this week I rang the Policelink service three times, twice for animals the last where I missed a cow that literally jumped up from the side of the road and scared the daylights out of me and could have been a lot worse for the small car in front of me. The other was a car abandoned on the side of the Newell south of Moree and on my way back that night as a driver warned another of it being there, the local towie called up saying he was on his way out to recover it. Maybe I saved a life or prevented a crash, we will never know but you must try. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey

2nd April 2018 Stone the Crows!

Goodaye all, a mad rush now to get off to work. Stephen from Whiteline TV, my partner in TRUCK That, came along to Wagga Wagga after a night on the road, with his lovely wife Sarah driving now so he could get a kip on the way to the festival. We attended the “Stone the Crows” Festival where I did a seminar on Easter Friday and again on Saturday about sharing the road with trucks.

I must thank some sponsors who contributed, GME for a magnificent UHF radio, Bolinda with many audio books and EFlare with some torch/Emergency Beacons as give aways during the seminars. All were well received and thanks for that support to make the seminars that bit more interesting and of value.

A good crowd of about 300 on Friday and near the same on Saturday, participated strongly in question and answer, along with many taking copies of Owner Driver, the Truckies Top Ten Tips and cards for future follow up. We launched TRUCK That RV, along with showing the sharing rest areas video and received a round of applause for the TRUCK That RV videos.

With the very welcome support of the organisers of the event, I was also able to sit down with people from three of the major motorhome/caravan groups/clubs for a short meeting on Saturday morning with the specific aim of working together to see more and better rest areas for all and improved knowledge of sharing the road with trucks. That meeting went very well and now I have some more work and emails and letters to write to pursue that and make it happen.

We filmed the next episode of TRUCK That and TRUCK That RV, including some interviews and a bit of music as well.

Thank you to the organisers of the “Stone the Crows” festival (and I have been invited back again next year) to those sponsors who contributed, to all who attended the seminars and to Stephen and Sarah for coming along. I wish I had another hour spare and will go into more detail next week.

Lastly, I have been invited to take part in a discussion on ABC Nightlife with Philip Clark on Tuesday 3rd April from 10 PM till 11PM as a follow up to the recent road transport segment and then hope to follow up with a spot with Luke Bona on MMM Nightshift, both to report on the Stone the Crows and to confirm the drivers club is up and running. Off and running, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.