14th October 2018. What am I doing?

Goodaye all. Following on from last week, what can I do? Well, I have sent a list to my RMS contact thanking him for some repairs I asked to be done, complaining of those done that have failed and suggesting I am about ready to start making a lot more noise about the impacts on the Newell between Narrabri and Goondiwindi, the most and worst impacts in one section of “highway” in Australia.

I have written to the NHVR direct with a list of concerns and requests, some of which are ongoing and some of which are serious in nature, some only minor. I wrote to the Minister about the upcoming Strategy for the Newell, asking where did all the effort go I put into the last one and did get a reply back, saying that effort will be part of the data.

I am chasing the green reflector informal truck bay posters NHVR have before another minister awaiting approval, so I can put them up in roadhouses along the Newell and finally, after only 19 years, complete something so simple, cheap and effective, it should be across Australia. I have spoken with a couple of others who support the green reflectors and offered comment and I have replied to the welcome Facebook page by TMR about them, but they have not replied.

I am working on a caravan reviver idea for Dubbo next year, will be involved in filming next week for a road safety with trucks effort, will be near joyfully happy, when we get the “TRUCKIES TOP TEN TIPS” filmed in the new year to be available to schools and others to see something finally done, on educating motorists about sharing the road with trucks.

I am asking members of road authorities why they are so precious about us using their stockpile sites and is it not better to have a tired driver able to stop, when we do not have and I honestly doubt, will have in my lifetime, suitable and sufficient truck rest areas for us to safely manage our fatigue, let alone the rules to give us a fair go.

I am asking why there is all stick and no carrot in anyone’s dealing with drivers, another driver has sent me his tale of woe and yet another, who is trying to do something positive, found he has been ignored, so I have offered another idea to try.

I am waiting to win the Lotto of find someone who will help me make the next and last TIV, the best as I can’t do it alone. I just need someone who loves trucks more than money. I am trying to catch up on my reading here, as I have a bag full of books for the USA etc to go through from my trip and others yet to email. I did email and put in a submission to the FMCSA in the US and emailed the Washington Dept of Transport about the rest area with no bins.

I have just done my Facebook “Audiobooks for the road” page, now the blog and next my column for Owner Driver and then will have to get ready for work, hoping to get some repairs done tomorrow, before being on the road to Melbourne for a timeslot Tuesday morning, where I have qued from the road for over two hours, to even get to the gate previously.

I am tired and frustrated, need a dentist and the time and money to get to one and wish I was a better Father and there more for my family. This has become not just a job, but a hobby and a passion and at times, it is soul destroying when you cannot get one bit of road fixed, that is simply, dangerous and it seems, no one else (except for the drivers who have to live with all this) cares.

We spend too much time alone on the road, to do nothing and I truly believe, what I do can make a difference and save a life and it has kept me sane, but the other unseen impacts, I will have to live with for the rest of my life and will probably never understand them all, or how they have impacted others close to me. I am trying. Maybe I will have to think more on the answers to these problems. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

7th October 2018 Who is the danger?

Goodaye all. I have just read of the dangerous nature of our industry. Strange how we can be killed and maimed and pushed and treated like animals for years and now we must be made safe. All the experts now agree it is terrible. Yet why do all these experts have all the say, when those involved have been ignored for years?

So many times drivers have tried to be involved, to contribute and yet even more so, many have said no one will listen when they do. If I was a cynical bugger, I would say that there have been times we have been excluded from such opportunities to contribute by the way such requests were made to us. I have complained to all and sundry over the years that drivers need to be made aware of the chance to contribute in a timely way and in a way, they are comfortable to do so.

Putting out requests in industry press that reaches us after the closing date or not far from it, so we learn of the request too late to even consider it, only allowing written input, when I struggle to explain things in person, how can you explain it in writing, to some one who does not do the job?

Yes there have been meetings arranged and promoted at times and I have managed to attend some over time, but no one will pay me or any other driver to attend. I could lose nearly a weeks pay to drive to such a meeting, accommodation so I am not fatigued to drive home and when I have not been listened to before, why would I do that again?

I have asked drivers to attend meetings as I can’t go to all and do not want to be the only one who does at times and had them treated like scum and looked down upon by those conducting such meetings, only to be told by the driver afterwards, “I will never do that again, so don’t ever ask me to do it again!” I have even been abused over the phone for having the audacity to give out the phone number for a major entity when drivers say to me it is hard to explain in writing and so I said, give them a call.

Yes, it is hard to get to us. We are so widespread in our industry, we have ten different sectors or more, we are spread across the country with less and less facilities, far too few rest areas, let alone decent ones and we are blamed for the majority of crashes in the press and the figures they use are based to only make us look the bad guy every time.

Why is this industry the most dangerous? Our roads, our vehicles and other drivers all have known and in some ways, seemingly ignored contributions. With some of the impacts I hit each week, it is a true wonder we do not have more equipment failures on the road. Who else monitors that and do any road authorities have anything in place, let alone the funds to fix this. I have been told many things, from if the road is not visually broken, then it is not a problem, to it is a major repair and we don’t have the money to fix it.

When I have rang to complain of a bit of road, I have been told “It does not meet our intervention levels” and when I have offered data from the truck to verify how bad the impact is into the truck, been told that is not relevant! Yes I have had many bits fixed, some within days, weeks and some, such as one corner in Queensland, I have been asking to have fixed for well over 4 years and did get a phone call just last week to be told it is now allocated for repair, NEXT financial year.

What has been done in the last 20 years to help educate other drivers, those in cars responsible for the vast majority of crashes between cars and trucks? Very little. Years ago I suggested a video at time of licensing and did do such a video, but was told the authorities did not have tv screens available. A few years later I complained again about the lack of questions in learner driver handbooks and there was a change to include at least two questions relating to trucks, but that is still simply not enough.

What more can I do and what needs to be done? Next week my answers, but I would welcome your views. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.