30th July 2018 Seattle and across the USA.

Goodaye all. I am now in Burlington, north of Seattle. I got in Friday and headed straight to the Kenworth plant in Seattle where Bart, who had been at Kenworth in Australia, is now the plant manager here and had agreed to a tour of the plant.

I saw a triple chassis rail off road haulier and a number of tri drives on the production line and a few other bits and pieces and raised a few questions. As you can imagine, I was not allowed to take any photos inside the plant. Due to the fact this plant does a lot of off road trucks, the manuals still reign here at above 80%. There is far more variation in the number and types of Kenworths built here, than in Australia, due to the wide ranging markets, including up into Canada.

After the tour I headed north and spent the night in a Washington State Rest area. It is signed with a section for trucks, one for campers and another for cars. During the afternoon, some cars with trailers and motorhomes stopped in the truck bays for short stays, but during the night some trucks stopped in the campervan bays, one with a cycling frig motor. There is also a dump point for motorhomes here, toilets and shade and tables and chairs.

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These used to be called turnpike doubles when I saw them years ago and may still be now and in some states I am told, they still run with 3 of these trailers, but only 27 feet long each. I did read recently there is a push to have them slightly longer, but so far it is being rejected.

There is a kiosk manned by volunteers, much like our Driver Reviver, but not so structured and they supply free tea and coffee from Friday to Monday, but that is all. The biggest thing I noticed straight away was the lack of rubbish bins anywhere, except in the toilets and they were all overflowing. Not only that, someone had missed the toilet and left their crap in piles on the floor and some had walked in it and we think it bad when our blokes do it where there are no toilets. Maybe he had an accident, but you would think they might at lest try to clean it up. From the smell of the truck parking area particularly, some truckies there can’t walk to the toilet to pee either.

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I was told there are no bins outside as locals dumped their rubbish there, but whilst many truckies arrived with bags for the bin, it seems back to front to have none for them to use and then more people will throw their rubbish on the roadside and that was evident as well. Washington State must have some weird weight laws as this combination is quite common.

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You can see the single wheel lift axle on the prime mover and one at the rear of the trailer. They do steer to an extent, but not through any linkage and many I looked at near had the edge of the lift tyres ripped off, so they do drag. I think this gives them 63,500kg in Canada and 105,500 pounds in the USA according to one with it shown on the truck.

No DG Diamonds on the front of the truck, only the front of the trailer (so how you see it from the front I don’t know) and no signs on any of the b-doubles, though with so many 53 foot trailers, perhaps they still fit in that length. So much still to chase up on and get enough detail to know what it means.

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This was one of only two prime movers I saw with these super wide single tyres. The other driver had them on his trailer as well and commented that he did not like them in the rain on the drive. Finemores have a number of trailers with them on, but I have not seen a truck in Australia with them on the drive. The fellow also said they were $2000 US, each.

I spoke with one driver in Seattle who does mainly local and his issue was with other car drivers, but one I spoke with at the rest area, nominated those using phones and they too it seems, are ramping up the penalties for such use.

Off to bed now as I am touring the PACCAR Technical Centre tomorrow and then hoping to visit Boeing, before heading eastbound and down towards 3M. Safe Travelling to all. Rod Hannifey.

27th July The UK leg nearing completion.

Goodaye all. Yesterday I returned to Taylor’s Transport at 6AM and met with Luke, one of their local lorry drivers. He had been with them for about 4 years and previously worked shorter hours at McDonalds, but had always loved trucks. He spent a total of well over 3,000 pounds to gain his Class 2 (rigid) license, then his Class 1 (Semi/ HGV) license, doing the medical first and also the CPC.

Even though he did gain some knowledge from the CPC, he doubts anyone who has been on the road for more than a couple of years, would gain much from it. In discussing his move up to trucks and his earlier car license, not only was he taught nothing at all about trucks in that car license training, he was told specifically by the trainer, that he was being taught to Pass the test.

I have said that I fear this is what is happening in Australia, that instead of teaching people to survive safely on the road for the next 50 years, we are teaching them just to pass the current test. We do now, after me writing to the state road authorities many years ago, at least have some questions on trucks in the license test, but my aim is still to have a short 10 minute video, filmed from within a working truck, as part of the training and testing of new drivers.

We checked the Scania out, the Mercedes Luke usually drives had a gearbox problem when he came back from holidays and is still in the shop, then headed off a short distance to the trailer yard to pick up our part loaded semi. There is a system called SNAP and you can park at truckstops, or even in other transport company yards for a fee, so there were a few other company trucks and trailers on-site.

Luke hooked up, checked the pin (and the trailer connections are similar but different to ours) then ignored the que for the bowser as Luke said we had heaps for what we had planned, then headed off for our first drop, a delivery to a Tesco DC, one of the big retailers in the UK. Eddie Stobart have the haulage contract for Tesco and there were plenty of their trucks with the TESCO signed trailers as well as full Stobart rigs.

We were early, but Luke is a regular here and we were allowed in and backed onto a door. Even in a tautliner, we backed onto a door and after asking how they were going to unload based on Aussie Chep pallets, I learned that UK ones are open both ways, so can be unloaded through the back doors. The strap from the back of the pallets had to be removed and then with the doors open and trailer backed on the dock, you go into the office with your paperwork and sit till it is empty and you are called.

With only 10 pallets, we were not there long, quicker than most of the DCs I visit, but one driver had some problem and was told he would be at least 45 minutes before he got a dock. I chatted and gave him a card and he was still waiting when we left.

Two separate pick-ups of bricks for a local transfer, both not only tight spots, but with tight access were next. I must say the public do seem both very patient and accepting of delays and wide trucks in narrow streets. They seem to manage to stop and or move over where needed and it has to be done, as you cannot fit past on the narrow roads with cars and trucks parking on the side as well.

After discussing load restraint and how in Europe it is much more stringent than the UK and not having seen any loads from there, I can only take Luke’s word for it, but I guarantee you, what I saw and spoke with fellows about at both loading sites, would not be legal here. Gates are not used and the only thing of note, was the rubber coating on the timber floor, no coaming rail or raised edge, no straps on rails anywhere and curtains deemed to be load restraint, that are just curtains.

In his 4 years on the road, all with Taylors, he has never been stopped for an inspection or got a ticket and there are more cameras and average time cameras about on the M1 than in most of Australia if the signs are true. So many different things, that I will have to consider as to how they vary from what we do, then decide which is better or worse and why. Luke dropped me back at the yard so I could borrow the wi-fi and he could get paperwork copied and I thanked him and offered a small new “TRUCK That Australia Drivers Club” keyring which we have done for members.

I have stayed at a quaint little pub, where the owner Paul was a drinker there and then bought it. He is 74 I think and was very affable. The dinner every night, included with the very reasonable tariff (continental breakfast as well) was bloody beautiful and the meat nearly melted in your mouth. The best feed I have had here.

Succumbing to a cider each evening was my only extravagance and I was kept chatting by some of the locals for hours. On my return for the last night, my new fan said, “They don’t know how famous you are, I checked up on you on the net last night and you are big on there”. He has vowed to follow the blog and keep an eye on me and I thank him for his company and conversation, along with all at the White Swan.

I am at Heathrow and due to fly out to Seattle tomorrow and whilst I have tried to keep up with my diary and am already doing my Churchill report, to write it all down, will take me awhile, so I had better get into that and catch up on the UK part, before I go. It has been very interesting and will give me a lot to think about, but I do think there are some things, particularly for drivers, that I will follow up on and hope to possibly help them here. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

25th July 2018 Visiting the Homeland.

Goodaye all. With a delayed flight out of Sydney and then a long que at Hertz due to it being both summer holidays and a Saturday in England, my arrival at Donnington Park Convoy planned for 10AM local time, became 3PM. Such is life. But I got in and met the organisers, agreed to set my stand up Sunday morning and started interviewing drivers.

I asked drivers (after explaining the Churchill Fellowship and the trip) what is your biggest concern with road safety here and how can you fix it? Whilst there is always a variation of how different people see things, the themes mirror some of our problems, but with some minor and some major differences.

Other drivers, was the first answer of many and it seems not only do lorry drivers here have to do their CPC every 5 years now, which must total 35 hours of training, but it was said by many, that car drivers are taught to pass the test, not to drive for the rest of their lives and it seems, they are taught absolutely nothing about sharing the road with trucks.

A few did say other lorry drivers, with the last I just asked when visiting one of the few secure truckstops, saying the standard of lorry drivers is falling badly. The CPC as a system is not a pass/fail, so what value does it have, asked many I spoke with.

I am currently visiting with Alan Taylor Transport in Huthwaite in Nottingham Shire and will be going out in a truck with one of his drivers tomorrow for a run. I met Alan at the Convoy, where not only did he have a truck in the truck racing, he had about 50 plus trucks on-site, including two that were offering drives for a minimum 5 pound donation to a charity and when I spoke with one of the drivers on Sunday, not only was there a big que, they had raised nearly one thousand pounds on Saturday alone.

I then filmed an interview with a young lady after she got out from her drive in the Volvo and trailer. The entertainment was wide and varied and after filming some of the tuck racing, be a very quiet and demure bloke, I asked where the announcers were and again, after lots of who and why, ended up doing a live interview between races and got many visitors during the rest of the show who commented.

The large banner of the TIV drew many, but the Australian Heavy Vehicle Combinations panel with the roadtrains, got not only much comment, but was photographed by hundreds. Even whilst I was away and talking to other drivers, the fellow in the stand next door who watched over mine, said there was always someone looking or photographing the panel.

So the Convoy show I rate very highly for itself and my me, yes a terrific start to the fellowship trip. I have spoke with many, interviewed more and filmed some more again and will put up a survey here for all to contribute to. I visited the Road Haulage Association in Peterboro and whilst they are mainly a company support group, plan to follow up with them in the future. Whilst there I saw a rigid with a very long trailer as a motorhome and then towing a caravan behind that! Hopefully will have some photos next blog.

So here is the survey and I would welcome you distributing it and or replying.

Driver Survey as part of
Churchill Fellowship Trip 2018 to study trucks and road safety overseas by Rod Hannifey.
It is prohibitive to print, carry and hand out forms overseas to many drivers and have only some filled in and returned and even on the road in Australia and perhaps, not the best way to get information. So this will be online in a number of sites and will aim to allow drivers and others to contribute and comment online towards the aims of the study tour.

Please fill in and comment as you see fit. I am only one fulltime employed driver, but the more who contribute, the more likely we are to see any change. Nothing happens overnight, unfortunately things can take many years to see any change, but nothing will happen without both a start point and the intent to carry it through.
Please use as much space as you need to answer any question and I thank you for your help to try and improve road safety.

Country
Age
Drivng task (EG local, short haul, longhaul)
Average Kilometres travelled per week or year.
Vehicle Type
Cargo carried
Your biggest road safety problem
Your solution to that problem
Your best road safety idea
Rest Area comments. What do you have and what do you need?

Please add any further comments and Thank you for your time and response. Rod.

I will be off in the truck in the morning and Thank Alan Taylor for the trip, the use of his wi-fi now and his help and comments. He too is another video interview seeking comments. I could write for hours, but you will have to keep following and I will try to find access and hope for better in the USA. As always my Thanks to all at Rod Pilon Transport and of course, to the Churchill Fellowship for this opportunity.

Sorry for the delay in getting this out, my phone simply will not work, look out Telstra and I hope it works in the USA. Cheers and Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

20th July 2018. Intrepidation.

Goodaye all. Ready to pack up the laptop and head for the airport in Dubbo. An hour to Sydney and a delay now there, that will mean after my 22 hour flight to Heathrow, will see me late at the Convoy in the Park and straight into it. Considering I only got out of the truck yesterday after 2PM, there is not much I can do, but hook in and hope for the best.

I would like to thank my two references/trip supporters, Mr Paul Retter, NTC CEO and Mr Roger Sack, owner of Tramanco and a supporter of the TIV, since even before its inception. I would also like to thank the NRMA and the ACT Road Safety Trust jointly, for the Churchill Fellowship for Road Safety and will do my best to gain the most (and hopefully spread some Aussie knowledge as well) during this trip.

Thanks also to the Churchill Fellowship Trust, those who did the interviews (the first on the phone sitting half way up Cunningham’s Gap due to a road closure from a truck rollover) and Rod Pilon Transport for the ability to get to the second interview in Sydney and to those who recognised my passion and efforts thus far and with this trip, will help me I hope to do more, to help others be safe on our roads.

The team at Rod Pilon Transport will be looking after the TIV during my absence with a few tidy ups etc and I will be mad keen on my return to get back into it, get the next one up and running and get my protégé into a truck and ready to step into this one, when I can convince someone to give me a truck and trailers, so I can do more than what I can on top of full time driving.

The TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle always had to be a working truck. Whilst it would be nice to have a real flash truck and go to shows, that will never represent what it is like on the road, nor would I get (or deserve) any respect from other drivers who do it for real.

I have had one fellow walk up to me this week whilst having tea and simply shake my hand and say thanks for my efforts for the industry and a caravanner, (whose email will appear in my next Owner driver column) say my Caravan survey had been very helpful and what they had been doing was not helpful to drivers and they did not know, but were trying and my survey had informed them and helped and made their trip safer and more pleasant.

So a big program, a plan to see what else I can fit in during it and a hope to find a truck to bring home! In my dreams. To those of you who would love to sponsor a road safety b-double, please let me know on my return and I will be more than happy to put your name on it if you wish.

I hope to be able to do the blog through wi-fi, they tell me data charges can be crippling and while I will have my phone on for international roaming, I plan not to use it more than necessary.

So to all readers, I bid you adieu for a short while, though I may be back even sooner than normal, subject to where I can find good wi-fi. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

 

14th July 2018. Churchill Fellowship Trip.

From http://www.churchilltrust.com.au

Travel to investigate.
Return to Innovate!
A Churchill Fellowship provides an opportunity for talented Australian Citizens to travel overseas to investigate inspiring practices that will benefit Australian communities.
The high regard globally for a Churchill Fellowship (the Churchill Trust was established in 1965 to honour the memory of Sir Winston Churchill the great world leader) provides a pathway for Fellows to access industry and community leaders from across the world, enabling the exchange of knowledge, technology and experience for the benefit of Australian Society.
It is important to realise that Churchill Fellows themselves are ordinary Australians with extraordinary abilities and aspirations. This could be you!

This is my itinerary thus far. I am still working on a few things and hope to add in more, as time and people either reply or seek meetings.

Leave Australia July 20th fly Dubbo/Sydney then to Heathrow UK.
Arrive 21st July , pick up SUV from airport and travel to Convoy in the Park Donnington 21/22 July staying on site in SUV. ( I have email confirmation that I will be given free entry, parking for the car and a stand at the show.)
Visit Eddie Stobart Transport, Warrington 24th July
Visit Road Haulage Association The Old Forge, South Road, Weybridge, KT13 9DZ
25th July
Spare day 26th July
Return SUV to Heathrow and Fly out from London 27th July direct to Seattle.
Visit Kenworth plant Seattle and Kenworth Technical Center.
Visit 3m Ramsey Minnesota (East Coast)
Visit Iowa 80 truckstop 395 W Iowa 80 Rd, Walcott IA 52773 Iowa just off route 80
4581 Highway 43, Joplin MO 64804 Phone: +1 (417) 627-0004

Visit WAUPUN TRUCK-N-SHOW August 10th – 11th, 2018 Waupun, WI
Visit EAU CLAIRE BIG RIG SHOW August 13th – 15th, 2018 Chippeawa Falls, WI
Visit TRUCKERS HELPING HANDS CHROME & LIGHT SHOW August 17th – 18th, 2018 Henderson, KY
Visit Chrome Shop Mafia Joplin 4581 Highway 43, Joplin MO 64804 Phone: +1 (417) 627-0004
Visit Cummins Indiana, 251 N Illinois St, Indianapolis, IN 46204 south of Indianapolis just off route 65
Visit Canadian Trucking Alliance Toronto
Visit FMCSA Washington DC (far East Coast)
Visit American Trucking Association Arlington Washington.
Visit Pilot/ Flying J truckstops along route
Visit Loves Truckstops along route
Visit Overdrive Magazine Tuscaloosa Alabama route 59

Great American Trucking Show Dallas Texas 23/25th August.
Fly out 26th September. Home 28th.

At this stage, I will be on the road till Thursday noon maybe, clean out truck and home that night, before flying out Friday. I plan to do a blog each day if possible, finding wi-fi to keep data costs down may have some bearing on this, but would welcome your comments, though may likely reply when home.

The TIV and trailers will be having some TLC applied by Rod Pilon Transport during my absence.

I will be asking begging and pleading for help towards the next TIV when I return and will be back on the road in September and working on getting it up and running. The TIV initiative will be ten years old with the trailers being ten in October and I will be doing some press to recognise this then.

Thank you all who read and comment and I hope I provide both some information and interest in this trucking life. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

8th July 2018 This Trucking Life

Goodaye all. I wrote the following in 2010 and did take my two youngest sons to see John Williamson in concert in Dubbo some years later. I spoke with John quickly after the show and gave him a card and suggested he might do another truckie song one day. I am still waiting for him to call.

This Trucking Life and this truckies wife.

Years ago, interstate trucking was over romanticised, you were your own boss and king of the road. It was never that good. You might have got to see a lot of Australia’s roads, but you did it alone and spent a lot of time away from family and this is still the same. You live in a mobile house, office, kitchen and bedroom all rolled into one and that bedroom is often one metre by two or less. At least you don’t have to travel far to go to work.

I’ve been doing interstate in b-doubles, 25 metres long and grossing about 62 tonne for the last 13 years, travelling around two and a half million kilometres in an area from Melbourne to Mackay with three trips to Perth, one to Townsville and one to Darwin, the last pulling triples, three trailers, 53 metres long and over 110 tonne gross weight.

I don’t think people are taught to properly respect the size and weight of these vehicles and certainly believe they are not taught to “share the road” with them. Not all truckies are perfect and often the tales of bad behaviour, or bad press following a crash where the truckie is often purported to be at fault do not help. With statistics showing more than 80% of fatalities between cars and trucks are
the car driver’s fault, some education of car drivers about sharing the road with these larger vehicles, that can now be said carry Australia on their back, could go a long way to making our roads safer for all, motorists and truckies alike.

Imagine being a truckies wife with your husband often away and possibly far away, not the same as him coming home each night, let alone to be able to come home on short notice in an emergency, real or imagined. This can be a lonely life for them as well, hoping their partner is safe on the road and with them looking after the family damn near all on their own. Even truckies who ring home regularly find it hard to have a normal marriage or relationship and too often when the truckie does get to visit home, he is dead tired and needs to recover to be ready to go and do it all again, to be able to pay the bills and feed the family he so rarely has time with.

Every second truckie I talk to has lost one or more families or partners, because of the pressures of the job and the lifestyle. You are entrusted with a truck and trailer combination worth three quarters of a million dollars or more and could have a load on worth as much or more again and then travel from one end of this
large country to the other with our less than perfect roads, insufficient and under developed rest areas with little or no shade, few toilets and motorists who
risk their lives and ours, because they cannot wait five minutes to overtake where it is safe and they can actually see enough roadspace. And yet we’re deemed by much of society and other car drivers, as out there with nothing better to do than try and have crashes with cars.

John Williamson’s song, “The Truckies Wife” has a couple of lines in it that ring all too true. He sings the truckie is often “like an uncle who comes home with ice creams and toys” rather than a father, and he asks “is there anything more for a truckies wife?”

My wife has put up with my lifestyle doing interstate for thirteen years, sometimes with me going to work saying I should be home tomorrow and then later getting a phone call to say I won’t be home for a week or more, I’m going to Perth, or each consecutive call saying I’m going to Sydney or Melbourne, or somewhere other than home. My children often ask will you be home next Thursday for a school event or birthday and all I can say is “You know better than to ask where I will be tomorrow, let alone in three or four days” and it kicks you every time you miss
one of those events. Rarely, you are there when other Dads are at work and you can be a lone Dad at a school item, but it isn’t the same.

I’m not proud that my wife does not really want me in “her” bed, the irregular early morning starts and or finishes mean you often disrupt the families sleep, let alone that when I come home I am “trying to change all her schedules and how she looks after the kids” if I try to help or get involved and if I don’t help, I am not doing my part with the children. Saying I’ll be home for school or something else and then being redirected, you break down, or are delayed for a myriad other reasons and then come home two days later, sees me being told don’t ring to say you are coming until you are here and then I’ll believe you.

No job is perfect, though my wife thinks I have a good time chatting on the UHF radio and going to different places. The reality is of course that I have to comply with laws made by people who mostly sleep in their own bed and who fly or have someone drive them about and mostly on the good roads. Airline pilots deserve all the credit and pay they get, but the conditions and perks are much better. A co-pilot, stewies to make you coffee, perfect runways and those you share the sky with trained and watched. We share the road with many who drive, and less
who are drivers. My wife and family are special and so are yours, please drive safely, respect the size and weight of large trucks and give us a wave occasionally, truckies are human too. Rod Hannifey, an Aussie Truckie. http://www.truckright.com.au

Much has changed for the better, some things have changed for the worse. I wish I could do more to make the roads safer and this a better job, but you can only do so much as an individual. I would welcome your comments. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey