22nd April 2019 Happy Easter.

Goodaye all. Home for my one day of Easter yesterday after attending the Stone the Crows Festival in Wagga Wagga for two days, then off to Brisbane today. Got loaded in Melbourne Thursday, out reasonably early, up to the King of the Road Truckwash in Albury to get the TIV and me too, all washed up for the show. Thanks for a terrific job, boys, it hadn’t been done for a couple of weeks and came up pretty well for its age. I grabbed a shower while in the que. When we were both all clean, up the road to Henty Man rest area for the night and had it all to myself, which would never happen normally with trucks and caravans often filling it.

Up early doing the detailing, touch ups and interior clean for a good few more hours, then filmed driving into the mass of caravans and motorhomes on site at lunchtime. I was last in and had to wait for all the others to arrive and get to their sites. Nearly 500 and almost at capacity for the grounds, but the range of activities for those attending going from craft, many different information sessions and entertainment from the cocoa club with bedtime stories, to comedy, music and Little Pattie performing one night.

Some stay for the four days of Easter and some for a total of 7 days. This is my fourth year attending and for the first time my second eldest daughter Katie, took part with me on stage. We launched the Truckies Top Tips videos, showing all 9 videos with comments and questions from the audience, along with covering the usual discussion points of trucks and vans on the road, rest areas and the like. A good crowd, very interactive and we kept going for an hour and a half and still had a mob of people at the end with further questions. The TIV was on display just outside the venue with my banners covering the tips, the TIV and one about last year being the tenth year of the TIV on the road.

The organisers had a survey form printed out for those who were new to the Stone the Crows and we had a few left over which I gave out on Saturday for my second session, which was more about my Churchill Fellowship trip last year. The few copies of Owner Driver I had went quickly along with many business cards and I hope to gain a few more followers and comments in the future.

Stephen from Whiteline Television, the man behind both the “TRUCK That Australia” videos we do and also the camerman, producer and video editor for all the Truckies Top Tens just released, filmed some of the session each day and we did the next “Truck That Australia” episode, introducing Katie as our newest team member. Stephen is a full time truckie as well and worked Friday night, before driving down from Canberra to do the filming at the event.

I must say all at the Stone the Crows were very welcoming with Katie making the same comment, the people who organise this event, all the volunteers and those who attend, go out of their way to say hello and are the friendliest bunch of people you would hope to meet. Thanks again for the invite, for the participation in the sessions, the survey replies, the entertainment and the comradery.

The response from the truckies Top Tips videos has been excellent, but any of you with group associations, please share them round. They were funded by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator through the National Heavy Vehicle Road Safety Initiative and are available online at no cost, specifically so they can be widely used. You can see and distribute them from http://www.sharehteroad.net.au and we hope they help make the roads safer for all.

I would like to see all trucking associations and groups get behind the videos and help to get them out to as many people as possible. The more we help car drivers understand some of our issues, the safer we will all be on the road. Yes, truckies make mistakes too, but we do not go to work to be involved in crashes, no matter what anyone else wants to try and tell you. The job, the traffic, the delays not only on the road but in loading and unloading on some sites, the restrictions and penalties under which we operate, all of these often make it harder to be able to drive when you are fit and sleep when you are tired. Yes we must have rules and yes, not all people will follow them, but all we ask is for some understanding of the job, suitable and sufficient rest areas, safer roads, better education of car drivers, some recognition of the lifestyle and its problems and the flexibility to get the job done safely for all on the road, without being fined half a weeks wages for being 15 minutes over time. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

17th April 2019 Truckies Top Tips

Goodaye all. Yesterday the first of the Truckies Top Tips for sharing the road was released by the NHVR and is available on their website and on http://www.sharetheroad.net.au In 1999 I had one of those days when you wonder where a car driver, or two, got their license. I even stopped at a little town pending the third “things all come in threes” event and hoping it would not happen, to give it some thought.

I considered what I could do to try and prevent such events. We simply do not teach new drivers about sharing the road with trucks. We didn’t then and I am afraid we still don’t. As I drive cars as well as trucks, I have some understanding of both, but so many car drivers will never get the chance to either sit in a truck, or talk with a truckie, to understand our issues or point of view.

Therefore a car only driver, is unlikely to be aware of what it is like to drive a truck and without that opportunity, they may only learn of their mistake of jumping directly in front of a truck and then go, “Oh my God I should not have done that” just before the impact that may kill them. Then it is far too late.

So that day, has led to this group of videos, even recognising not every driver will see them, as much as I would like to see that happen. Even if it became a mandatory part of the licensing system (and that is what I would like to see) to watch these tips and then include in the test questions more about trucks, it will take years to get more people both educated and then to reduce the number of crashes, between trucks and cars.

When you consider that the vast majority of fatal crashes in Australia between cars and trucks, are the fault of the car driver and this is the same in the USA and was only recently recognised in Canada. I was amazed when they released the figures and virtually said, we did not know and what can be done to reduce this problem. They are going to do a study!

I will be happy to debate the figures with anyone and whilst there are figures ranging from 70% to over 90%, car at fault, you must all recognise statistics can be made to say whatever you want. The fact remains that the majority of those car/truck fatalities are caused by the car and we have done very little to this point to change that, at least from where I sit.

So I would ask you to share these videos, to talk about them with your friends, particularly with those who do not drive trucks and to those with children about to get their license. The worst that will happen is that you may give them some information they may not see any value in, or they may not recognise for its worth at the time. You might just save someone’s life. It is up to you. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

6th April 2019 ATA Convention.

Goodaye all. Currently at Sydney airport waiting for a flight back to Dubbo after attending the Australian Trucking Association Convention in Perth. It has been a few years since I attended one, but this year there was a rest area focus and I was asked if I would participate.

I got in late Wednesday after a long delay in Sydney, so missed the welcome drinks. Thursday had a “What is different in WA” start and then after release of the latest NTI figures with a couple of major issues raised, a panel with NTC/NHVR and others and after lunch were break out sessions. I attended the rest area and driving hours ones and would have liked to go to the image one, but it was on the same time as one of the others.

Finishing up the day, an informal dinner on the water with Thermo King supplying the latest in a long series of hand painted frig units up for auction, was lucky with the rain and on Friday morning a very serious session on Mental health and well being. Not only a problem in our industry, but on making a comment, I was assured by presenter and ATA Chairman, Geoff Crouch that all comments would be recorded, investigated and where and when possible, pursued with fervour.

This issue has been talked about for a long time and it was said by many, talking about it does not solve this problem, let alone the others the industry faces. However, I alone or you or anyone else on their own, has buckley’s chance of seeing anything major change or improve on their efforts alone. I am keen to work with the ATA, to contribute as and where I can and support their efforts where I see a chance to gain some improvement. Without members no association can “do” much and without members input, efforts and support, nothing much is likely to be achieved.

But if people do not raise issues, seek change and improvements through such groups, individuals will never achieve as much. There is still a role for such and I am not saying don’t have a go on your own, but you must choose your battles and do the best with your army, pity you can’t really choose you foes, they tend to come for you anyway.

Further sessions, lunch and a Q and A with an ABC TV flavour saw the RSRT get the audience very much involved. Senator Glen Sterle on the panel gave as good as he got, along with an assurance the first one was a balls up as it came to us, the next one will not happen that way and that the industry would be involved all the way with one aim, to get a better result for all drivers and owners in the industry.

Coming away there is still much to do and some will say, nothing has changed, but what are they, or you, doing to get that change underway? I sincerely hope many things will flow from this. I am not that blind or stupid that I think all will be solved tomorrow, but nothing will change if no one even makes a start.
Thank you to the ATA for a well run and organised event and to all who attended for their efforts. Now we must pursue what was started.

Thank you to the ATA and to Heather Jones from Pilbara Heavy Haulage Girls and Success Transport for their assistance in attending, to Heather and Yogi for video interviews for “TRUCK THAT Australia”, to all who made me welcome and to all who said Goodaye. Also to those who stood up and had a say in any of the forums, the more who contribute, the better the outcome. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

3rd April 2019 Our roads!

Goodaye all. A big week this week, slow to start and then running all the way till the end. Lots of rain, lets hope my request for a rain dance and the issues of the drought helped it happen. You have to take the credit where you can. I was asked by a couple of clever workmates, when did I get brown truck, as that is how it looks a bit

Our roads now are generally good, but it is the bad bits which do all the damage to us, not so much you in your car, but geez it hits us in trucks. Of course that impact goes through the truck and causes much of the wear and tear and mechanical issues we then get either booked for and or have to pay to fix and maintain. This only decreases safety and increases the cost of transport. That impact then goes back into the road as well and causes further damage. Is this a chicken and egg issue? Did the bad road cause the truck to damage the road? If the road was good, then no impact into the driver, the truck, or the road.

Can we have perfect roads then that will not cause any of these problems? No! We have a large country with vast distances in between and a small population and don’t have the perfect land everywhere for roads. We have good land in some places for crops and we have good land for minerals, but we also have land useless for either and then we have roads and they rely on local land for the base and materials to use. They are only as good as they are built, would you agree?

Yes we can build them cheap and spend a fortune maintaining them, ignoring the damage and costs to road transport and I am not complaining about my job. What I am saying is if you live outside of a capital city, you need trucks to deliver things to you and to take crops and minerals away, if only to a rail head etc and if you don’t live along a railway line, you need a truck to get those things to move.

So do you agree that if we build and maintain roads to the highest standard, then that must be better than building them cheap, doing sub standard repairs and letting the trucks and drivers cop the impacts and the transport companies cop the maintenance costs and the consumer, cops a higher fee too.
Do you know of the Pareto Principle, the 80/20 rule. My view is that if you fix the worst 20% of road deformities, failures and impacts, you would then remove 80% of the damage and possible contribution to crashes, caused by such failures. This of course includes potholes and all sorts of road issues. Having safer roads is good for all road users and with it being my workplace as well, better and safer for all truckies too.

So how do we do that? We must help by reporting such issues to the authorities as they will not always know or see such thing thousands of kilometres away. They then must have the funds to do the repairs and must act in reasonable time. If we had a National Road Standard, then we could more likely guarantee better roads and improved safety and les cost to all. But what are my chances of getting such a thing up? Perhaps not so good, but will that stop me from pushing? No way. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.