30th June 2018

Goodaye all. TRUCK That Australia June edition put up last week. Please comment and share to see it grow and reach those who we need to make the effort. There are three things we would like to see addressed as a start for the TRUCK That Australia Drivers Club. The issue of fines under Safe-T-Cam, which will now be the National Camera Network run by NHVR, where you are charged with trying to avoid the camera by going over the fogline, yet can be clearly seen in the photo and re the distance between trucks, I have asked for a line to be on the road to help us achieve the gap required and not get caught by two metres, because the car driver in front propped in front of the truck at the last minute.

Second is the request to allow split rest, only twice a week and not on consecutive nights and to a total of 8 hours instead of 7. I have already asked this of NHVR and believe it will help many drivers, both to comply and to better manage their rest. It must not be scheduled or pushed by others, but available to use rather than only as a defense.

Lastly, a National Rest Area Strategy. In the last few weeks I have dealt with the loss of a green reflector site and a truck parking area. Each time one is closed and I complain, I am told “It is only one spot”, but if we lose ten a month, then we are going very quickly backward and we do not have enough sites now. Many times I have seen a road improved, only to remove the wide shoulders on crests that we have traditionally used to check/change tyres, inspect for animal damage, check straps etc or God forbid, for a leak.

Yes we welcome improved roads, but why do they then have to dig the shoulder down past the road level so we can’t stop safely. The crest is the highest point, so water will flow away, you don’t need to dig it down, it costs more and takes away those sites we can use when the next bay is maybe 100 k or more away and we do not know every road in Australia. Yes we know many well, but if tired, you can quickly forget where that next spot is and do you want us driving tired, or able to stop, walk round the truck and kick the tyres and then get safely to the next formal bay. We may need to have 15 minutes over the wheel to get to the next site and again, surely that is better than struggling on.

We need a national rest area strategy, finding gaps and showing deemed fatigue crashes and if there is a big gap, a cheap green reflector bay can be put in and the worst thing that will happen, it won’t get much use. But if it is in a needed spot and gets a lot of use, then perhaps it can become a formal rest area in the future when funds are available. Should we save just one life with a green reflector bay at a cost of $2 million or what ever figure is used for a life, then we will be able to do the whole of Australia and how many lives could we save then?

We need to recognise and include motorists and RVers as users of such sites as well and we need their support to get this up and more sites provided for all road users. We do need dedicated truck sites and or sufficient room to allow truckies the rest they need and are mandated to have (and punished severely if they don’t) unless we can educate other users on our needs and ask them to better utilise the space available.

I passed a site on the Olympic Way the other night which has a signed and separate Caravan area. The caravan in there could not be bothered to use this and parked right in the middle of two b-double spaces, so we could not get in in front or behind and leave room for anyone else. Am I to bang on his door and wake him and tell him to move?

I do not have the right or authority to do so, but you must understand the frustration when in such a situation where you are tired and planning for bed, only to find someone using that space possibly as free camping and not even thinking of anyone else.

We too as truckies mostly try and use the space available, as we know what it means to have to drive on tired. We also recognise the value of good clean toilets and I doubt truckies would vandalise something so rare and needed on the road, yet someone does and the authorities then complain that being a truckstop, it must have been a truckie.

How do we solve any of these problems? Not by complaining to your mate, but by joining a group, join the union, your state trucking association, NRFA or NATROAD or the TRUCK That Australia Drivers Club. Doing it on your own is hard work, time consuming and frequently unrecognised or worse, you get abused by some who will do nothing but whinge themselves. But do something to help your self, as too often, no one else will. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

24th June 2018 Churchill Trip Pending.

Goodaye all. I am madly trying to pull together my itinerary for my upcoming Churchill Fellowship trip. I deferred last year as I wanted to start off at an event in the UK and the timing was just too tight to arrange. Even now 12 months on, it has still taken me far too long to get a reply from some, but I am ever hopeful it will all come together soon.

I plan to visit the CONVOY in the Park at Donington in the UK and have now made contact and been offered a small stand, then visit a big company there, the Road Haulage Assoc, then go on to Canada and the US.

I have been following the road transport industry in the USA for many years, as they are the closest to us in many ways that I have seen. The aim of going to the UK, is to see a different side with the far more congested roads etc.

Any of you that read this who have a suggestion or contact in the UK, Canada or the USA who might be of value regarding trucks and road safety, I would certainly welcome an introduction. I will also look at the issue of parking and whether they have an issue with caravaners etc, as it has been getting a lot of press here of late.

I had hoped to get someone who would lend or hire me a prime mover for the USA, but have not had any success yet and so will likely rent a campervan, rather than a car and get a hotel every night. I will probably have more room and facilities than I have in the truck here anyway. I aim to do a blog each day of the trip and this will be my log as well, will do some filming for Truck That Australia and even a story for Owner Driver.

Work has been flat out and I owe my mate Anthony in Melbourne a big Thank you for doing a late timeslot Friday and allowing me to not only get a brake problem mostly sorted, but to get away Friday afternoon (instead of Saturday morning) and do my delivery at Trundle on Saturday, so I can get a service and airbag fixed tomorrow before loading and heading off. Thanks also to John and the mechanic at BPW in Melbourne for waiting for me. I had to load before they went home and still get there, but traffic and even getting a sweat up with two forks loading me in the cool Melbourne afternoon, did not get me there on time.

Phone calls to VICROADS and RMS during the week will see some things hopefully move along, but I was unable to attend the Parkes Heavy Vehicle forum. It is not always possible to get to where you would like to be, when you are an employed driver and the truck needs to earn an income.

I had hoped to win the Lotto, but no call yet, so I am still looking for someone who loves trucks more than money and who will fund or substantially support the next TIV so I can do that much more. Never give up is the plan and if I don’t ask, I will not likely get such offers in the mail, except from scammers. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

 

18th June 2018 Short and sweet at it has been an even bigger k week.

Goodaye all, much to do and too little time to do it. A near 6,000 kilometre week ranging from Dubbo to Brisbane to Maryborough in Western Victoria, then to Melbourne back through Dubbo to Jandowae, then Brisbane and Wee Waa on the way home.

Nearly at my delivery point in Maryborough and the road was closed. In a b-double simply going ahead can lead to much pain and financial loss, so whilst contemplating where to go, I saw a car stop and there was a UHF aerial visible. I had been on the phone to eldest daughter and turned the radio back on to be asked, “Are you right there in the Pilons’?” Not really, was my reply. “Where do you want to go?” Johnson Street, “All good just follow me, I live in here as well and the roadworks can be a bugger”.

The gentleman got me round the block and in and I then asked the best way out to Melbourne and he pulled up, we shook hands and he gave me further directions and said he was with the Highway Patrol. Help that was recognised and much appreciated, but I was still thinking on the directions and cannot remember the fellows name, but he went out of his way and “Thanks mate”

Coming back from Jandowae, Dalby has most of the main street currently torn up for improvements. This was one of two wide loads that were due through early, but told to wait by traffic control according to one of the Police escort vehicles. It was bedlam and there was some comment on the UHF, but getting angry and abusing others from a point of anonymity is not all that brave nor of much value. We all have to try and work together more and I hope you will agree.

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I did spend time on the phone with RMS during the week and hope that will bear fruit and did get to send a list of culverts and issues for the Newell from Moree north and there are a couple of doozies there.

Next biggest issue is my Churchill Fellowship trip and much to do to get that sorted. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

11th June 2018 A big week.

Goodaye all. A quick recount of this week.
Saturday evening off to Emerald with a sleep in the Pilliga. Stopped at Miles to complete new headlight set up, Ding another RPT driver, stopped in to check on me as I had the bullbar down, all good and Thanks Mate, then tea and off. Many green reflector bays marked Miles to Roma, with some further north as well, well done. Arrive Emerald 11.30 PM Sunday, 15 plus hous driving time from Dubbo.
Monday morning, in for on site mine delivery and do induction, blow in the tube, clear, pick a blue marble so no drug test required, escorted down into the pit. Some photos while unloading, then in front of the dragline and a cup of tea on the way out.

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Down the road to load some cotton, back into Emerald to load some more, then off to Brisbane. Nearly made it all the way, sleep at Logan Motorway Heathwood, then down to the port to unload Tuesday morning. Back to Lytton to load IBCs (international bulk containers holding up to 1000 litres of product) for Goondiwindi. Visit Cummins to reset DPF problem to get me home, then to Fisher Park Roadhouse just over the top of the Gap for a lovely meal of rissoles, tomato and onion gravy, salad and chips, bread and butter and coffee, beautiful. To bed at Gundi early.
Up for a quick unload at 7.30AM, an even quicker cuppa and on the road to Dubbo. Had my load picked up for me, but still too late to have new DPF fitted, so off from Dubbo at 5.15PM for Melbourne and hope it will last another trip. Listening to State of Origin, ring ahead for a quick tea at the Tiger Moth Cafe Temora, then hear the end of the game and on to Benton’s Hill rest area south of Wodonga and to bed. Since parking bay “improved” camber is now the other way and head lower than feet. Tried that way, as head to drivers side is the norm, but woke early Wednesday and had to change ends. Another issue with parking bays and surely you will agree, you need to be comfortable and familiar to get good sleep. So far, already done a weeks work for many on a 38 hour week.
Up at 9AM and into Melbourne for paperwork and fuel, not far to unload, but have to split the trailers to get in and then fight for my spot in the que. A good blow on the air horns sees the pusher in change his mind. Round the corner to wait, then load more IBCs for Wellcamp for Monday, then patiently crawl out of Melbourne with thousands of others. By the time the current roadworks is completed and with two new towns being built on the northern outskirts now, the traffic will be clogged even further back, what terrific planning!

Met Stephen from Whiteline TV at BP Lavington for a coffee and photo, unusual to have us both in our trucks to meet on the road with our different schedules. Then chatted with him to West Wyalong and to bed just before 1AM. Up and 8, scoff some breakfast and off to Dubbo to drop trailers, fix a gate and wait for a lift home. DPF will be replaced and a seat issue addressed, is the plan.

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Lift home and into the shower, fuel and check the car (Thanks Adam for the loan of the car) to drive to Canberra for tea with eldest daughter (who we hope will take part in “TRUCK That” in the future with stories etc) and Stephen from Whiteline. We had planned to do filming for the June “TRUCK That Australia” episode in Stephen’s studio, using green screen to show even more of his talents and skills. Talk till late sorting plans etc, up Saturday and filmed and played and discussed till 6PM, then into car and back to Dubbo. Thanks to Stephen and Sarah and the boys for your hospitality and efforts.

Home 11PM, up the next morning and off to work to have a new seat problem, more frustration than sense from me, but sorted after some verbal discussion with self and off with youngest son in tow moving north. Lunch together at Bellata and pulled up at Wellcamp to try and have some of this written and catch up on paperwork till 11PM.

Made and received many calls, loaded and unloaded as needed and others will have worked longer and or harder or both, but I still have a lot of catching up to do. The biggest is to sort my upcoming Churchill Fellowship trip. Till next week and sorry for being late. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

2nd June 2018 Join the club!

Goodaye all. There are so many issues to address, it can sometimes be daunting, but if you or I don’t do anything, will it change or improve? The aims of the TRUCK That Australia Drivers Club is to get a sufficient number of drivers involved so that we can say we in some small way, represent those who live and work on the roads of Australia. If we can get at least ten or twenty blokes that run most of the major highways, I do believe we can get more done, than I can alone.

I see a driver made a comment in Owner Driver about coming back to driving fulltime and the changes and even further erosion of rest areas and roadhouses he has encountered. Others I have spoken to during the week ask, “Why would you do this job now?” And it is a very good question. Where boys from drivers families used to spend time with Dad in the truck and learn to love the job, most truckies tell their kids to get a “better” job, knowing the impact it has on a families life.

There is a push to get more women drivers, but we can’t get a toilet for men, let alone one for women in many places and what do they do at a site where they say, sorry you can’t use our toilets? Some roles and places do have such facilities and I mentioned when talking to Luke Bona on “Nightshift” the Vicroads rest areas on the Hume were the best I had seen for size and facilities. Another driver followed up though, saying they do not extend to other Victorian highways.

Luke’s co-host, Jess is getting ready to take her license test and said since being part of the show and listening and talking to many truckies, she has a better understanding of some of our issues, but had not been taught anything in her training for her license, about sharing the road with trucks. She is going to monitor it and let us know if that changes.

I am working on my Churchill Fellowship trip to leave at the end of July and any with road safety contacts in the UK, Canada or the USA, who might be interested in trucking in Australia and who might be interested in helping me to get the most from the trip and offer a contact, would be welcome. Off to work early this week to get part way to Emerald for Monday morning, so short and sweet for now. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.