16th August Columbus Ohio.

Goodaye all. On Saturday I visited Niagara Falls, virtually going past from Toronto on my way to Chillicothe anyway and Bruce and Carmen said being so close, if I didn’t go I would be a goose. The falls are magnificent on first appraisal and while I took photos and video, they do not capture it to its best. On arrival I went looking around, having found there would be a band and fireworks that night and I still had a day now to get to Kenworth for Monday, as most of the American Trucking Association staff were on their way to the National Truck Driving Championships in Columbus, so I was told it would be a waste going to Washington to see them and so had stayed another day in Toronto for the truckshow there.

I went and did a little shopping for the family, walking maybe 7 or 8 kilometres during the day and night, but it is very commercial there and quite a surprise, I took photos and videos during the day and night and headed off after the fireworks. Based on the vehicles and people, I envisaged a long slow trek out as I thought and the parking attendant agreed, there was only one way in and out. So I had planned to sit in the car and catch up on my report.

However it looked like a good start out of the parking area and the Police on point duty sent me the other way and with a stop and a target in the GPS to guide me out the back way, I was on the highway in less than 10 minutes. Now on the way into Canada, I had come upon the Illinois Tollroad with no signs or warnings for the tolls. My GPS had a setting for avoiding tolls, yet had given no warning of the issue there, but this time decided to save me $10 in tolls and cost me two hours and more fuel in avoiding a few on the main highway south.

I ended up on a much smaller road for hours and in the scheme of things, it was probably a good chance to see the lesser roads and I ended up in the early hours of the morning in a small and run down truckstop where I asked and was told I could sleep out the back.

Next morning after a sleep in and some fuel, I was on the road and reached Chillicothe that evening. I sussed out the plant and went and found a motel for a shower and bed. My tour started the next morning at 9AM and went till lunch, with one of the four Assistant Plant Managers as my guide, we did an introduction and tour and he then bought me lunch in the cafeteria where I sat in with some of his friends and explained again, what I was doing there.

The plant is at capacity and working on increasing that over the next couple of years. There are 2300 employees with 1300 involved in the assembly of trucks, 53 component suppliers within a 250 Mile range of the plant and at the end of my tour I had asked JD, my guide, for what he sees as the safety aims for Kenworth. He said driver assistance was increasing to be able to be more aware of our surrounds and those travelling within those surrounds and driver comfort, to reduce fatigue and again, keep us with more ability and time to watch and drive, rather than just drive.

There are Kenworths everywhere and I took photos, visited the predelivery down the road and then the dealership over the road as well, after the tour. The manager there said he was possibly not the best to ask, but that he was seeing an increase in technology fitments, but a pushback from some drivers.

My tour with Cummins has been deferred till next week and whilst I have met with one of the ATA staff here in Columbus and been invited to the Breakfast of Champions for the National Truck Driving Championships, I will have to leave by noon to meet my commitment for a truck show 12 hours away. So I have decided to sit here and catch up with my report which is now into 16 pages, do a blog or two, send in my column for Owner Driver and I thought, catch up on some sleep.

But I have just spent the last hour on the phone with an Australian truckie who has raised some more hairy issues for some of the things that we deal with on the rod and their legality. I have to be up early and am up to date with my diary, nearly up to date with my report, showered and mostly packed and am off to bed at 10.30 PM Columbus time on the 15th. It was my youngest daughters and second grandsons’ birthdays yesterday and it is my second sons’ birthday at home in Australia on the 16th and as with my job all too often, I am a long way away, but I love my children dearly and miss them all. Safe Travelling to all, Rod Hannifey.

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