29th September 2018 Sydney and Adelaide for a change.

Goodaye all. A divergent week after a normal type start, loading Monday and delivering in Melbourne Tuesday, then load Bulk DG for a turf farm in Windsor out the end of Sydney. Get to the end of the road in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night and a No Through Road on the left, no name for the business I am looking for, but being very early in the morning after a long drive, I imagined then I should go right. Bad move. Travel along to find the street numbers dwindling when I had hoped they would go higher and the road getting narrower and no cross roads visible, so found a wide driveway into another farm and did a three point turn just managing to miss the one telegraph pole, right at the opposite side, the gutter on one side and the deep drain on the other.

Back up to the junction to find no name, but a street number in the dark just past the No Through Road sign. MMMMM, can’t stop on the road, so in to the NO Thru with trepidation and to bed. Not even asleep and a toot toot, up and look out, you can’t park there, drive down to the farm. Yeh right, off after him and a bloke would not drive down there in a car not knowing what was ahead and I am in something somewhat bigger. I hit the powerlines with the aerials on the truck trying to get around the corner, hit the trees getting down the road and then parked up and went to bed.

Unloaded later that morning and then some phone problems after that, me and the bill issues, then into Sydney and load for Adelaide. Barely get in the gate off the road to load even from the wrong side of the road and then a que of trucks pulls up behind and glares at me as I load my b-double with a full load. Don’t rush I’m told, they will just have to wait, but they can’t get round me or back out now, so they glare as I try to hurry safely. I would not have been happy waiting an hour. Two forks on me now (and found later one had hit the back of the plastic guard and bent the mudflap bracket after I had just fixed the other side last week from another forkie) and off to Adelaide.

Another road to continue my listing of truck rest areas, informal truck bays etc, so a good thing that way as well. After some big sections with either lots of stupidly sized and painted, yet ridiculously too small painted shoulder bays, or good rest areas with gaps or nothing at all for miles and after finding a spot south of Mildura to sleep in, I then ran on into Adelaide. Unloading all good and getting fuel with an issue with the new truck GPS system that hopefully won’t come back and bite me, but the fellows with the crane and witches hats I had to get around, seemed impressed I missed them, with much thumbs up going on.

Coming up out of Adelaide I was musing on the roughness of the road on the Sturt Highway northbound went over a crest and whoa, it felt like 4 hits together, what a ride, probably with the wheels off the ground and the skidmarks which followed this engineering marvel, attest to the fact someone else had a serious issue with it too. I did have some other things on my mind like managing my hours to get home in time for trailer machinery inspections, so it was the next day before I rang to lodge a complaint. I did speak with another driver during the night who said, yes I know that bit and use the other lane. I asked had he complained and suggested he did, as he is on that road every week.

When I rang I mentioned the fact I thought it was the biggest impact in the last 5 years and I was concerned. To the credit of the gentleman I spoke with, he rang back asking had I seen the rough surface signs and I did not recall them, but that the way I described it, they could not just patch it and he had ramped it up to a major repair. I had offered my name and number initially and he asked could he pass that on if needed and I agreed and will hope to save some other poor bugger from such an impact. I was driving and so could not take details from him, but he texted me an incident number and I will follow up in two weeks. Any of you who know the road and issue I speak of, I would welcome any comments and support of the repair please.

Got home, machineries done, a few minor repairs as I went straight there and then the accelerator died again as per last week. In the scheme of things, at least I was in Dubbo and had the inspections done and was loaded. Still got it back to the yard and had it fixed for now with some more work to follow hopefully next week.

Whilst loading the young lady spoke of her plans for the long weekend. Ah yes, that would be nice, but with the holiday only in NSW, I get to go to work Sunday like normal to be able to do a timeslot in Melbourne early Monday after unloading the back trailer, so yes, a long week end would have been nice. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

22nd September 2018. Short and Sweet?

 

Goodaye all. Short and sweet this week. How much do any of you know about “Chain of Responsibility” or even “Safe Rates”. Are they both media catch cries you have heard in relation to road transport, but not understood? Are they relevant to you in your job, or do they resonate with your OH&S workplace guidelines or are similarly about your pay and conditions?

The “Chain of Responsibility” came in over ten years ago and was meant to take all the punishment and blame, then solely placed on truckdrivers and spread that blame “up the chain” to those who pushed drivers to break the law and or put them in a no win position, saying be there or don’t ever come back for a load, but without any such proof, the driver was still the bunny caught in the headlights, when anything at all went pear shaped.

It was a marvellous concept, but very little changed. There is a new version due to come into effect on the 1st October and will it change that? I don’t know. I hope it will finally go some way to achieving what it espoused when it was legislated, but I am concerned it will only increase fines and punishment on drivers, at least in the short term, till someone further up that mysterious chain gets pinged and then just maybe, others will finally be held truly accountable.

Are we using a sledge hammer to push in a thumbscrew, or do we need to go to that level to get those up the chain, to both recognise they cannot put a driver in that no win situation with complete impunity to the consequences, but that they must bear some of that responsibility when they contribute to the problem, howsoever caused?

I do not know anyone in the world who goes to work to kill or be killed in their job. I hope and believe we all want to be paid a fair wage for a fair days work and that we should be safe earning that income. Monash University recently released a report saying truckies are 13 times more likely to die on the job than any other group. I had a number of radio stations ring me about it and I said, some things have improved as in all walks of life, but there are certain issues not being fully addressed.

No education of motorists about sharing the road with trucks, insufficient number, design and facilities in truck rest areas for us to always be able to safely manage our fatigue and we are the ones who have to do the work, yet those who tell us how to do it, who design and enforce the rules and penalties, have all the facilities known to man within walking distance of their executive chairs and we can’t even get shade or toilets in rest areas, let alone better roads and driver education.

It is frustrating and difficult to get such things improved, let alone completely rectified and we have the different states rules etc as well. But what do you think or know of either and is it like all things, the truth we see and read is so far from the real truth, that it is nearly too hard to find? Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

16th September 2018. Northbound to Townsville and back to Brissie.

Goodaye all. I did miss our ABC radio while away, but missed my audio books too and doing a trip to Townsville is a good excuse to get back into them. I loaded out of Melbourne last week, got home Saturday, planned to get a couple of little things done Monday and was under half successful, but hit the road just after lunchtime.

I travelled through to Bundaberg that night pulling up in a suitable green reflector bay just before a cane train crossing going into Bundy and slept there. A driver called me up on the UHF just as I left to go and unload and said Luke from Nightshift had been looking for me the night before, something to do with roadworks.

I had been told to load Wednesday, hence the late leave from Dubbo, but being unloaded just after lunch Tuesday, I rang and asked could I load Tuesday and was told yes, so on to Gladstone and after reloading for Townsville, had dinner with my cousin. Then it was on to the BP at Balberra as I was to look at a load in Mackay on my way up. I rang Luke and he had a Traffic Controller on before me saying the trucks were behaving themselves tonight and it seems he had complained of some bad behaviour by truckies the night before.

I offered a view and explained some of our frustrations, asking what Traffic Controllers were taught about trucks? The two issues I have seen most, are being flagged down as if you are doing 80 in a 20 zone when you are already below the posted limit and the times when a TC will stop trucks for cars, or make you stop just to show they have the power to do so, and then let you go. I offered to talk with the TC fellow saying I was off to bed soon. He rang me and we had a quick chat, him saying he teaches new TC recruits to give trucks a fair go, but I asked was it in their training so that all learned, not just those he taught? We have agreed to work towards some improvements on both sides.

When I got up later that morning, I rang and sussed out the pick-up for the return trip and went through nearly to Townsville and pulled up to check directions to unload and found a leaking airbag. No one available to come out then, so in to unload only the find the road closed and had to go round the block, then try and get in missing a tree, bollards, an undermined road and a narrow gate.

After unloading and confirming a repair for the morning, I rang my sister and went and had tea with her and the family as it has been a long time since I had the chance to do so. Back to the truck to bed and out for a new airbag in the morning and on the way.

Some of you may have seen where I am working with Transport Certification Australia (TCA) mapping green reflector bays so that these too can be included in any truck GPS, mapping and rest area programs. The Newell is near done and as part of this trip, I have made a list of sites on the Leichardt Highway to Moonie, the Bunya Highway to Murgon, the Burnett Highway to Ban Ban Springs and then the Isis Highway to Childers. As I approached Ban Ban Springs, there was a new green reflector bay marked and I must thank the fellow from TMR there, who contacted me some time ago and we spoke of some sites in the area and he has gone on and marked them, thanks.

I then did the Bruce Highway northbound and again southbound on my way back to Brisbane, so many more to be done and I have responded to a TMR Facebook page, asking what the 3,2,1, green reflectors mean, asking them to give me someone to pursue. I aim to continue to follow up on my business cards from the Churchill trip now and will be on the road tomorrow after unloading and reloading. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

9th September 2018. The Future.

Goodaye all. I need a holiday to work on my efforts to complete my Churchill Trip, the next TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle and my family. The more you do, the more there is to do, but it is hard to do it all while you have to work in a job that means you are on the road and away from it all. Yes there is the marvellous internet, but that is another cost of both time and money and both are in short supply at the moment.

I have nearly completed my Churchill report, still have maybe 60 business cards to reply to, need to sort out which to pursue from the trip and all the rest. Then there is the future, what to do and when and how. I have some things I would love to pursue, but they will take more time and money and whilst I do have some spare time on the road, often it is time that I simply can’t use to the fullest, as I am waiting to load or unload, waiting for the truck, the customer etc.

Then of course there is the time you need for meals, showers and sleeping and again, it is not just the time to do one thing, it is the whole time it takes to stop, order, que etc and then get going again. I love what I do and it is also my hobby and my passion, as most of you who know me will agree. It is simply the issue of time and if you have a set job and hours, it is easier to arrange. As with all our laws and penalties, they are designed and policed by those who do not have to live by them themselves and I don’t think they listen and give us a fair go all the time.

Having seen the truckstops and facilities in the USA, we are not in the same league. Yes there are still not enough spaces there and not all rest areas are the same, but the scope and size of some and the facilities and regularity on some roads, is so far in front of us.

Then there is the driver shortage and what to do with that. I see a young fellow did a story saying we must focus on the positive and there is a marvellous future in the industry and that there are many opportunities for young people. That is true and it is not. If those of us who do this job because we love it are leaving, then there must be something wrong with the job. Another fellow wrote a piece saying he has told his children to stay out of trucking.

Surely there is a reason behind his comment, not just that he doesn’t like it. He is trying to help and protect his children from the life he now leads, never home, living in a truck, lousy facilities and food on the road, bad drivers who are not taught to share the road with us, always blamed by default for crashes and the loss of peoples lives and fined if he works overtime again, by those who have every facility they need within walking distance of their office chair.

I want it fixed, I want it fair and I want to help. I will be called a dreamer or worse, but I have tried and I have not yet given up, but if I tell people how good a job it is when it isn’t, am I not making it worse, because they will leave and tell others it was not what they were told it was.

I will mull this over as I travel this week and would welcome your thoughts and comments. If you are a driver, is it a good job and would you tell your kids to do it? If you are a member of the public, how do you see us? If you are a person involved with our laws and or policing them, how do you see your role and how it affects us? Do all of you recognise what we contribute to your way of life and or what we give up in our lives, so you can enjoy yours. It has been said that the Australian economy used to ride on the back of the sheep, that was years ago.

A journalist said to me it now rides on the back of a truck, yet we seem to be maligned, tarred by the actions of the few and not recognised nor appreciated for the job we do, hence my questions to you. I would welcome your views. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

2nd September 18 Back in the land of OZ.

Goodaye all, it is good to be back home in this great southern land. It is hard to describe how I feel, elated from the trip, sorry it is over, good to be back with family, daunted by what is in front of me to make the trip worthwhile and get value, not only for the Churchill Trust who sponsored the study tour, but also for myself to try and make the time to follow up.

My report is now nearing 50 pages with many photos included, I have started emailing those I met and got business cards from, but that pile is tall and each has to be individual, at least that is my view. I could just draft a hello, good to have met you and thanks, but each had a different aim, intent or focus and if I do not recognise that and seek to gain the most value from each meeting, then I have possibly failed the chance to make the most from the trip.

Even now there are things I wish I could have done better, or arranged better, but the two things the Churchill people stress when you first discuss such a trip, is that you must leave time for the things that pop up unannounced and that you should not then miss and that you should also take some time for yourself to enjoy it, you do not have to work 24 hours a day. That will only burn you out and possibly leave you to miss, or not get the best, from something.

As I have said, I was aware of the Churchill Fellowships, having had people suggest it to me a few times over the last ten years. One of those had been a Churchill Fellow and suggested it could help with my road safety efforts, even then. Once I started down the path of the TIV though, I felt I had a commitment to those who had supported me as sponsors and that it would not be fair to then head off on a major trip. With this TIV prime mover now 7 years old and the trailers coming up ten and starting work on the next one, which I will commit to for five years, the timing seemed right.

I did not honestly expect to be successful and some I have spoken to say it is somewhat unusual to be successful in your first application, but there are probably not many truck drivers who have applied and that point of difference may have helped. About 1200 people a year apply with around 100 fellowships awarded. There are some with a specific focus, music, the arts, health or children for example and of course, there was one for road safety.

The application process is fairly rigorous with a written application, then two personal interviews and I was able to do the first by phone, with I think, 5 peers asking questions, though was told I could be at a disadvantage to others who turned up, but it was a lot to go from Dubbo to Sydney for a 15 minute interview with the costs involved, let alone the time off work. This one was about your knowledge and depth of immersion into your field of endeavour, but the second one was come to Sydney or fall out of the process and was more about your passion and had a table full of ten or more asking you questions about what you wanted to do, why, where you wanted to go and why.

Then you either progressed to the state finals or were passed over and then each state submitted their finalists and from that pool, the 106 chosen in 2016 were awarded Churchill Fellowships. With permission and in consultation with the Churchill Trust, I deferred for a year, both to give me more time and to co-ordinate the timing and what to do with the gap, between the Convoy in the Park in England and the Great American Truckshow in Dallas, my planned start and finish points.

Setting up things so far out and so far away when you have never done it before, can be a challenge, yes there are those who can help, but with trucks and road safety, to my knowledge it is something not very regularly put together and certainly, not in the eyes of the public. Churchill Fellowships are highly regarded in many fields and those who have gone before me and who will certainly follow, have achieved exceptional things, from defining education for children at a disadvantage, to improving the health of widespread and or specific groups, to outcomes in the arts and music unlikely without the extension that such a fellowship can provide.

I have said it already I know, but thanks to all from the Churchill Trust, the judges and to all others who applied and or have since completed their fellowships. If you have a passion and a knowledge of a subject and believe you can not only learn and extend that knowledge or value to all Australians, then please look at the Churchill Fellowships and consider applying. Or if you know someone that could benefit from such, suggest looking at it, to them.

I am off back to work now. Back in the truck I have spent the last 7 years of my life driving, primping, cleaning, showing at events and taking passengers in. I do not only drive, I load and unload my cargoes as well and whilst I might average 50 hours driving each week, there is the other time involved as well, let alone the shows and events. I normally leave home Sunday, as I will soon and will most likely return next Saturday, so my working week is 5 or 6 full days living and working in the truck.

IMG_2705You may well go to work and or work more hours and could well spend time driving to and from work, but how many of you live in and at, your work and then what is your quality of life there? Good facilities, kitchens and toilets and showers available, good food and company? I ask this not for you to feel anything for me, but to ask you to consider the lifestyle and the things an intestate truckie gives up, so you can have your food, clothes, fuel and your car. At Convoy in the Park, they had shirts that read “WITHOUT TRUCKS YOU WOULD BE COLD, NAKED AND HUNGRY” and I would simply ask that you consider this, till next we meet. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.