24th March 2019 Churchill Fellowships and drought.

Goodaye all. Applications are currently open for Churchill Fellowships till the 30th April 2019 for travel in 2020. It had been suggested to me by a couple of people over the last few years that I should consider applying. One friend had also done a study tour some years before, but I had invested a lot of time and many had contributed to the TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle and I believed I had to give them my all as well, so kept it in the back of my mind for some years.

The Churchill Trust is a well-run and planned organisation, that does look after those who become involved and does not just let you do a trip and that’s it. There is a rigorous and detailed application process with over 1,000 applicants each year and the range of topics and studies is enormous. There are some sponsored fellowships for specific or particular fields, but there are also general ones for everything else.

If you have a passion and believe you could improve the lives of others by learning how and what is done overseas in your field, give it a go. That is what it is all about, learning and then, helping others. You can look at their promo video at https://goo.gl/kf1b5L and I wish you every success.
You can read previous reports, (you are required to do one on your return) at the Churchill website, including my own of just over 60 pages with photos or you can visit http://www.truckingnation.com.au to see some of my videos and details on my Churchill Study Tour on “Trucks and Road Safety” in TRUCK That Australia over the last few episodes.

Maybe you could go and learn a raindance and save us all. The drought continues to worsen in places and we have floods in others. Where will it end and I don’t think it will be long, before it starts to bite into many who think they are immune in the cities. I hope it will come good before that for the sake of all Australians, but I also recognise many simply do not understand the breadth and scope and the impact it will have if it continues.

We can continue to export our mineral wealth, but we all need food, both here and overseas and we supply a lot of it. None of it will grow without rain, no cattle, no sheep and no crops and you can’t eat dirt. I don’t know how to fix it, but it bears raising and let us hope it improves soon and quickly without the floods that often follow and then do more harm as well.
Off now to the library for some more audiobooks to keep me entertained on the road and my mind off the worries of the world. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

17th March 2019 To blitz or not to blitz?

Goodaye all. Here I am stuck in Sydney for the week-end. It has a good side, I did get to the Eagles concert with my daughter on Thursday night, their last in Australia. Two and a half hours of music and toe tapping and singing along quietly (so as not to spoil it for others close by) was a most enjoyable evening and the company was magnificent. Of course, one of the problems of the job is not always being there, or even being available for your children when they might need you. Thank you to my daughter for the company and all my children, if they pooled together for the Chrissy present.

But now back to being alone and away from home and family, I am trying to catch up here. Many of you will have seen the recent blitz on truckies. I would welcome your thoughts on how you see things. I feel we are blamed by default for the actions of the few and I fail to see how hounding those trying to do the right thing for every minor thing (and then telling the world you caught as all out for serious breaches) tells the truth and may well do more harm than good.

Five truckies testing positive to drugs out of 1,500 and one to alcohol from 1,200 are too many, but please go and test the same number of car drivers and then tell me, we are the problem. I am asking for all the breaches to be listed, not just we got x number of logbook breaches and x number of defects. How many of the logbook offences were minor and how many of the defects the same?

Would I be overly cynical if I said the more they can report, the more it justifies the next blitz? How much do such exercises cost and would that money be better spent doing something to educate car drivers about sharing the road with trucks? Twice in the last week, including coming into Sydney, I have had cars try to push in front from a merging lane on my left, when I had traffic beside me and nowhere to go. They won’t speed up to “merge” safely and join the traffic at freeway speed and they won’t slow down and pull in behind me, I am expected to slow my b-double to let them in and they will get all irate and abuse me and wave their arms, if I don’t.

The law says merging traffic must give way to other traffic, let alone the fact I am on their right and take more to slow and get going again, thence delaying all traffic behind me as well. We do have blind spots in the region beside the cab and who even knows, let alone considers this? Had I not seen them for any number of reasons, had they hit me, they would have blamed me till the Police came and explained, they were in the wrong, yet would have told all their friends how the truck ran into them!

The other one is cars must get past the truck to take an exit, they can’t wait behind the truck and take the exit, no they must get past the truck, then cross two or even three lanes at the last possible second with no room or regard for their safety or anyone else’s. Do you think they want to be involved in a crash or killed? Do you truly think we do? Of course not on both counts, but then why do something so stupid, with a truck that will not even feel you?

Were you taught about sharing the road with trucks? Who by and what did they teach you? What was included in your learning to drive, about trucks? Let me know please and I welcome your comments on the above as well. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

10th March 2019 Oh for more time!

Goodaye all. Just a quick piece this week, much to do and too little time. Youngest daughter bought me a ticket for Xmas to see the Eagles in Sydney later this week, so working towards that at the moment. I have seen very few concerts, always on the road it seems. A mate wrote a song with that title, though more towards a singer who drives trucks and so is on the road for work and then also for his hobby, music as well.

Me too in that way, on the road for work and for my hobby, road safety and the TIV too. I put out my rest area paper to industry and others last week, with one reply so far. The ATA is planning a big rest area forum and discussion at their conference in April and I hope it will build on the current momentum, because we are simply going backward at the moment. How do we manage our fatigue, keep safe, let alone go to the toilet with few places on the road?

My next push is for a national road standard and I am working on putting in a serious complaint to TMR about some bits of road I have been asking to have fixed now for over 4 years. It is our workplace and you all expect to be safe in yours, don’t you, so why must we, the drivers, be the only ones doing all the hard work to stay alive, let alone be safe in our workplace on the road?
The roads are not up to a safe standard in places, those we share them with are not trained to share them with us and everyone says we have to be safe, yet few others care.

Do you think the roads should be deemed our workplace and how do we go about it?

It is frustrating to get things done at the moment, roads, rest areas, driver education and not just car drivers, we have to lift our game too, but with our crash rates down even more than car crashes, would you agree we are if not improving as much as we would all like, but we are trying and doing something. The pity is we do not seem to be getting any recognition, the authorities are taking credit, but I fear they think their actions have done it but have not, at least not to the extent they claim.

Nothing is as simple as we have more bigger trucks, so less crashes. Or is it that we have better technology in the trucks? We are more compliant than ever, yet the authorities still want the fines and seem to be hell bent on punishing us out of our wages. A fellow tells me his friend got a ticket for not putting 15 minutes in his logbook when he bought it. The fact he was out shopping with his wife at the time did not stop the officer diving him a $600 fine. Is that fair and reasonable? I have asked what he is going to do, I would fight it and until I see the ticket, I will reserve any further comment, but his is not the only one I deem overzealous. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

3rd March 2019 Stories, good and bad.

Goodaye all. In my audio book reviews just published on “Audiobooks for the road” on Facebook, I spoke of Les Norton an Aussie character in a book and that I should, (in my spare time) write books about an Aussie truckie. The only trouble is, you would have to come up with stories that would only reinforce the negative perception held of truckies generally. Stories of bad behaviour sells papers and books and no one wants to read of a bloke that just does his job and lives his life.

Now last week, I could say I was not where I was supposed to be in my b-double, had to unload where I could not without splitting trailers, got messed about and told one thing when it meant another re loads etc, then went to a place I had been before, only to find someone had changed the road and I ended up in a worse place, where I should not have been in Melbourne. The beach looked good and the looks from the shoppers were interesting and I managed to do a U turn where I would not normally do so and so far, have not invoked the ire of the authorities.

Now none of that is unusual for a bloke who drives a b-double, but unless I tell you I carried a load of gold, stole myself a new truck, found a dead body or made a fortune on an illegal load, would you read such a story and not think bad of me and us? Yes it is fiction, but I have spent 20 years now trying to show a good side and that some of us do care and writing exciting stories, no matter how much they were made up, would I think only reinforce the bad opinion of truckies. What do you say?

One day I will write a book about the TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle, but that will have to be when I have that spare time. Maybe then as a true story of something unusual for a truckie to do and for so long, it might interest a few, but outside of that, how do we get to the mainstream with a good story? I have tried magazines and others with the aim of showing a different side with very little success, but if I was involved in a crash, killed someone or was caught drugged of my face, then I would get all the press I didn’t then want.

There are few books of the good old days and even less of the current ones, but I would welcome your suggestions of you have found a good one.

On the other side last week, I had one bloke tell me I had many detractors, but he thought I did a good job and at sites where I had never loaded before, had staff, forkies, drivers and others, ask about the truck and why it had so many photos and sponsors. A couple were long time readers of my column in Owner Driver (19 years this year) and others seemingly fans of the truck and my efforts and that is nice to be recognised for good instead of bad. But those who disagree rarely say it to your face and are generally those who will whinge about things not being fixed, but do little if anything but that, to see them changed. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.