25th November 2018. On the roadside.

Goodaye all. For a bit of a change, I did a trip to Sydney and back as a single semi this week. Having just flown there and back the week before and the airfares were not cheap, I did not have half as much fun in the truck.
I missed the start of a big truck blitz on my way out of Sydney and whilst I was pulled into the weighbridge both on the way in and out, I was treated fairly and the fellows I dealt with were OK, though they did find something for me to get fixed and I don’t have a problem with that. Many years ago pulled up by the then RTA at Ballina, after an inspection, I chatted with the officer and he made the comment, they were there to look after my safety and we agreed, I would rather have them find something I was unaware of and prevent an issue, than not.

On the other side of that is the attitude of some of those we deal with on the side of the road. We, just as much as them, can be affected by the days’ issues, but they are meant to act professionally, as they will shove down our throat when we make a mistake, you are a professional driver and should set an example, know better, etc. If they are the (much better) paid professional, who get living away from home, motels and meals paid (that I am sure are better than some roadhouse tucker) and have showers and toilets available at the least each night, then all we ask if we do behave with respect, is that they do the same.

I will be the first to say not all truckies are respectful, professional or the worlds best drivers, but surely we should be treated with initial respect on the side of the road, unless we act badly. To be accosted with “LICENSE AND LOGBOOK”, no please or anything, no wonder some of our blokes do not respond so nicely. And just imagine, as will have happened during this blitz, last week, some drivers will be pulled in and grilled, delayed for far more than a few minutes, and then still get pulled into the weighbridge less than half an hour up the road.

I have had drivers tell me of being stopped four times in one day for a “roadside inspection” and one fellow topped this with five times. On the fifth, he asked the policeman who had stopped him, who he had killed to be stopped so often in one trip. The officer said, well, how did you go with the last four, no problems, was the reply, well I’m going to ping you for this. Strange then that the driver involved was not overly impressed with the roadside inspections. There must be a better way to spend the taxpayers money than having some trucks stopped three or four times in one day and many not stopped at all.

I have been stopped southbound by TMR Qld before Goondiwindi during one blitz, only to be stopped again at Boggabilla by RMS NSW less than 20 minutes later. How is that reasonable to anyone? When such blitzes occur, then the public see all the police etc stopping trucks and think we must all be bad and the resources and costs involved, must be astronomical and so they then have to issue as many fines as possible to both justify the cost of the operation and then to crow about how many things they found wrong or illegal. The fact they will NEVER release the full outcome and list of offences, which, I truly believe, would show many minor and non-safety related things, but which they still include with the few bad things, then they are wrongly portraying the whole industry.

But will I, as a single driver, get listened to or even heard in the media? Believe me I have tried, sometimes getting a fair go and others, not even being able to get through to give a reasoned view. Then some that might get through, are either already riled at how we have been treated and portrayed, but may not be the best spokesperson we might have to give our view. I am closely aware of some television shows, that will far more likely give time to a yahoo who will yell and scream and swear, which makes us all look like idiots, than give that time to someone who can and will offer, a far more reasoned and reasonable response. Still, as one driver, I can only keep trying. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

18th November 2018. TIV initiative reaches Ten Years on the road.

Goodaye all. This is my “press release” for the TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle (TIV) initiative reaching ten years and I have sent it to all who have supported the TIV thus far and to industry press. My November Owner Driver column (out this week) is to the same theme. (Sorry the photos in the press release do not transfer, more to learn yet.)

TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle Initiative Reaches Ten Years.
Not being able to convince a major transport company of the value of this idea, I left after 29 years. I approached Rod Pilon for a job and with this plan for a working truck to promote road safety and the road transport industry. Rod said if I work out ok, in 12 months he’d buy me a new truck and trailers.
Ken Wilkie, knowing of my dream, offered me his K104 for two years and I then asked Rod Pilon if I could buy the trailers I was towing. Rod said he would buy me a new set and I made up a list which Rod approved and at the ATA convention in Canberra in 2008, Rod bought the second offered auction trailer and said he wanted a b-double set and that was agreed to. I went to congratulate Rod and he got up and shook my hand and said, “There are your trailers”.

New TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle Trailers being picked up at Vawdrey in Melbourne on Ken Wilkie’s K104 in 2008.

Rod had said I could have the sides of the back trailer, but then agreed to look at my curtain design and on a laptop, it looked “busy”. Rod’s “mmm” when I showed him was not what I’d hoped for, but when I arrived in the yard in Dubbo with the first load, Rod said, “You did well, it does look good”.
Two years on, Thanking Ken Wilkie for a gesture unlikely ever to be equalled, I gave his truck back and then spent a year back in RPT Truck 7. Rod Pilon then offered to buy me a new K200 and to continue with his support. I had many sponsors who contributed to the new truck and or the trailers and I thank them all for their participation and support. With a new truck, I had to do new curtains and with Rod’s permission, I designed and ordered a set which I funded through photos/ donations.

Last Trip First TIV 2010, Thanks Ken. RPT Truck 7 and TIV trailers. New K200 at Kenworth Plant 2011

TIV trailers one million kilometres 2013. Reach two million end of 2018. Only one trailer brake lining just replaced.

The current TIV prime mover will reach 1.4 million kilometres in August and the trailers will be 10 years old in October this year and I am working on the next TIV.

Without the support of Rod Pilon and all at Rod Pilon Transport, the TIV would not exist, nor be able to attempt to offer a picture of road transport to the public not seen anywhere else. The NRMA video, “NRMA hitches a 10 hour ride with a truckie” was seen by well over a million people and the 99% positive comments alone, justify the TIV. When I started, I decided the worst thing that could happen would be that I would waste my time, effort and money and if nothing changed, so be it. But if I saved just one life by getting a bit of road fixed, or a rest area built or improved, or educated one motorist, then it would be well worth the effort and I am proud of what the TIV has achieved.

TIV as AB Triple on way to Mt Isa. TIV at night.

TIV Conspicuity Markings.

TIV at ACRS 2016 Awarded Highly Commended. TIV at Henty Field Days. TIV at “Stone the Crows” Festival Wagga Wagga.

I wish to THANK Ken Wilkie, Rod Pilon and all at Rod Pilon Transport and all the sponsors who have contributed and or supported the TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle over its’ ten year journey. Without you all, it would not exist. I commit to doing it again in the next TIV for the next five years and would welcome any and all support that will allow me to achieve even more. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

For a list of events/riders in the TIV visit http://www.truckright.com.au and follow http://www.truckright.blog
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As you might imagine and knowing how I don’t want to be seen to be blowing my own trumpet, (though if I don’t who will?) I could write a book on the ten years and do aim to one day. But few may be interested in that much depth of information, particularly being to many, just another truckies life.
The TIV is still probably not really widely known outside the road transport industry, though not for the want of trying and any of you who have access to a different market or group, I would welcome your support if you wish to redistribute it further. It is only one small attempt to change and improve how we are seen and to show a different side to that which all too often, is the only way the press show us, after something happens on the road leading to the death of a motorist.

We are not all perfect and I have never made that claim, but I still hope and believe those who do the job because they love it, still do it with some passion and recognition of the part we have to play to be seen that way. Those idiots who just do the job and don’t care how we are seen or treated, can go and do another job if they wish.

I am not, cannot and do not claim to be a representative for others, good or bad, but do try to do more than “just” be a driver and I applaud all others who make any effort to do the right thing and to improve our lot, on the road and elsewhere. Thanks to those who do make that effort, whether a driver, a journo or other industry role bearer. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

11th November 2018. Lest we Forget. Farms and rain and Trucking.

Goodaye all.  To all who do recognise and remember, “Lest we Forget” today.

Sorry for missing you last week, too much work and too little time. A farm delivery Saturday afternoon and just in time, as the rain came down less than an hour back down the road and I should have been able to get in and out on the hard road, but the forklift would not have copped at all. That meant I got home 10PM Saturday night, slept in the truck and was to be loaded the next morning while on my break, but someone needed a key to get the freight and so a bit more time lost. Then back on the road at 10PM that night headed for Toowoomba.

Unload etc then have my break, thanks to ICEPACK, it was a much enjoyed sleep. In to Brisbane and load for Goondiwindi, reload a bit and home to Dubbo, then load for Melbourne. I do understand timeslots for DCs (distribution centres) but I fail to see how a timeslot booked three days in advance when so many things can change (and mostly things well out of my control) really fits with Chain of Responsibility, let alone getting there and then sitting for 3 to 4 hours.

I believe a driver should be able to contact the DC and have some flexibility available to them. Some are good and others seem to think they rule the world and particularly, yours. If you are only given a 15 minute window early and after 30 minutes late, are told to “Rebook and come back another day”, then after 45 minutes, they should be paying demurrage and I bet we would not be sitting there for three hours plus then.

The USA was due to try and get a law in that anytime over an hour at a DC would incur demurrage charges and this should be brought in here. I am still watching the USA to see if and when it might get up. Of course no one else cares about our time being wasted, do they?

My mate Yogi got a fine for a camera offense and it is one of the things the TRUCK THAT Australia Drivers Club put up for review. Please explain how a fine previously deemed to be an attempt to avoid Safe-t-cam by moving to the side of the road, can still take your photo and issue said fine? Crossing the left hand line or fog line is of no safety issue to anyone and if they can still take your photo, how can they justify $1400 plus 4 demerit points?

I was coming out of Melbourne Thursday afternoon, grossing over 66 tonne and displaying Bulk Dangerous goods signs and this goose in a ute could not wait behind me to take the next exit, he came up beside me and nearly pushed the car in front, so he could move into a non-existent gap between us to get off at the exit at the last second. I lit him up and gave him the horn and he of course was so sorry for making such a stupid and dangerous driving error, he gave me the finger and it seemed, screamed abuse at me. Sorry for not allowing you to be stupid in a safe way.

This happens on a regular basis, people seem to think the truck should do all and anything to allow them to do what and when they want. Do they realise it is not just a car they expect us to fling about and speed up or slow down for them, so they can risk both our lives not quite as badly? How many of you were taught about trucks when you got your license and have you been taught by anyone since?

I would welcome your views on two questions.
1. Do you believe we now teach people just to pass the driving test, let alone survive on the road for the next 50 years?
2. Were you given any instruction, guidance or knowledge about sharing the road with trucks when you did your learners?
Off to Melbourne now and I look forward to your replies. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.