14th July 2019 Where did you sleep?

Goodaye all. Where did you sleep this week? Did you sleep in your own bed or if away from home, in a nice hotel? Even if you slept in a cheap motel, you would have had clean sheets, a clean shower and toilet and at the very least, food available possibly on site and or, other choices close by.

By law, I cannot park the TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle (TIV) in front of a motel or caravan park and go inside and spend the night. I am only allowed to park a commercial vehicle for one hour in a place with either kerbing and channelling or a system of streetlighting, depending on which state you live in.

So in theory, I must park in a truckstop or truck rest area, unless I have a yard or the capacity to park off the road and few customers allow you to park and sleep onsite. So where do I get my shower, my clean sheets and have access to a toilet and reasonable food, be safe and also able to protect my truck and its’ load. You do realise, I am responsible for both don’t you? I can’t really even park it somewhere, then walk or get a cab to a motel and if I have bulk Dangerous Goods on board, I am breaking the law to leave it unattended.

There are few motels without air conditioning and dirty ones won’t survive as no one will come back and others will rate them badly, but what if I need to sleep during the day to be compliant with the law. Please show me all the truck rest areas with useable shade, toilets and other facilities you will mostly, all take for granted.

What if I do pull up and get to sleep, at least I don’t have far to go to bed, about one step, but then in the day, the sun moves as it does, or at night, another tired truckie pulls in beside me as he too needs his beauty sleep, but he has a frig van or a load of cattle or makes a noise and wakes me as he has a short break, while I am trying to have a mandatory 7 hour continuous break?

All the above is of no concern to most of you in other jobs, but have you ever for one minute thought about the truckie who delivers your food, your fuel, your clothes, car parts and every other thing you use, how we live on the road? Not one of our major highways in Australia met the minimum standard for the number of rest areas in the only study done in years, let alone did they meet the requirements for even a basic list of facilities that should be available to us. What is being done to change this?

I asked for sometime and we now have a recommended design for truck rest areas, but there is no legal requirement, no funding to make even one highway meet the above standard for the number of spaces, let alone for the design or facilities. We are legally required to manage our fatigue, to comply with laws and penalties made and policed by others, who have no idea of what it is like to live in a truck for a day, let alone a week or more, so do you wonder why I am still asking for something to be done?

None of us want to drive tired, we want to do a trip safely and get home, but we need places and the flexibility in our laws to allow us to do that safely, but currently we don’t have the places, the facilities or the consideration needed and our laws are more there to punish us and raise revenue, than help as operate safely. How can we fix any of this? Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

7th July 2019 Dirt, cotton and wires.

Goodaye all. Hoping the broken wire problem has finally been fixed and I get all my horsepower back. Will know this afternoon when I hook up and head off. Got some new steer tyres and spent a relaxing two hours doing my trailer tyre pressures Friday morning, replaced a missing mudflap whilst the wire search was underway and got a new speedo, though it seems from the trip home, that did not fix that problem.

Earlier in the week, after a mud map error, no one home on UHF or phone and just enough phone signal to confirm with my depot I was on the right farm in the middle of nowhere to unload myself, it was a bit tight over the irrigation channel, but got some good photos on the airstrip where I unloaded. The fork and surface could have been better, but just another day in the life, as many would understand and few others would care about. Funny how the dirt road, even with tracks nearly a foot deep, was often better than the bitumen. At least it was only dust and not mud or would still be there.

Loaded cotton the day after, first truck in, this looks good, but then, all finished, loaded and strapped, only to move forward to go to the weighbridge and be told, sorry, that is not your load. When the lady followed that comment with, “You’re not happy are you?”, I smiled and said, “Well who’s load is it?” It of course belonged to the truck who was to load next. It did get sorted with me having to go to a different delivery point with the load I had on, though suffered another problem when two bales I did have on, were listed as sent the day before and so could not be booked out again. More consultation and discussion and notes on the paperwork. Got a cuppa while waiting though and chatted with the other drivers waiting to load.

Had got out there the night before too late to load, went to bed early, got up again for my spot on Nightshift, only to have the phone signal fade, so up out of bed and into the cab in the cold to plug it in and still had an issue, but got through it. Rang the still silky voiced John Laws Friday to try and get more drivers involved with the HVNL review and then did a spot on ABC Wagga with my mate, Grant Luhrs Saturday morning about, you guessed it, the HVNL review and winter driving, though winter seems slow to come so far this year.

Just completed my 8 page reply to HVNL issues paper 2 on fatigue. Will check it and send next week-end at this stage and damn, having missed the library, no new audio book to listen to, will do my shopping and off to work. Our tax laws will not allow me to include my shopping I buy to go on the road and lock in our costs whilst on the road, where everything is of course dearer, yet of course, they don’t have to try and live on the road. No answer from tose I have asked to supply a new truck and set of trailers and looks like I did mot win the Lotto, so will have to keep begging. “Never give up and keep asking nicely” is my motto but getting older and frustration is building. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

1st July 2019 What a week/short w-end.

Goodaye all. I was so keen to get to work I didn’t get time to lodge this yesterday. What a fun week. Dubbo, Melbourne, Dubbo, Gunnedah, Wee Waa, Sydney, Melbourne, Dubbo. A long chat with the RMS gents at the pads at Gunnedah, gave them a copy of Owner Driver, the fellow did have some trouble getting through under the truck after the mechanic left some diff oil in and on the wheels when the diff was reraced, but it was all clean underneath.

Starting off Sunday with grease all over the black seatcover was not very impressing, lucky I put my hand on it first, then tried to get most off and spent the week sitting on bits of rag. Delivery into Sydney was fun, but Melbourne was worse, split to deliver, then told, sorry please take it to our other warehouse. My paperwork says here, I rang yesterday and was told here, I have already split, unbuckled and waited an hour here, so it comes off here. OK then, we will unload you here, “Thank you” I said.

The saga getting in there the night before, the GPS scaring me where it wanted me to go and then not telling me of a 4.3 height bridge on the way out, caused me much and many bouts of consternation. Now I have to write a list of Truck GPS wrongs, to see what can be done to get it right. There is still no true truck GPS (and in the USA they have banned trucks from using car systems after many bridge strikes and other calamities) and we do have many different combinations and other issues, but if it says truck settings and truck GPS, you would like to think it can help you, instead of hanging you.

Had trouble with an air leak, half fixed during the week as we did not have a metric fitting, coming home Saturday, less that half fixed, but sorted when I got back to the yard for next week. Park up the TIV and jump in the little truck to go and move some boys gear back home. Just finished unloading it and packing now to go to work. Have to cut short now, still need to buy food and get sorted and on the road. Did find a few extra green reflector bays during the week in a couple of different spots, explained how they worked to a couple of drivers and had others comment on my last column, saying they too have had either a similar issue or have met the fine officer in Gilgandra to their dismay.

I must lastly say I have met some real idiots on the road this week. Those who don’t know how to merge, don’t know what indicators are for and last night coming home in the little truck with little lights, few who will dip until well after they blind you. Seems if you don’t have fantastic lights an they do, they can blind you merrily till they get sick of you flashing your standard headlights. The joys of trucking. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.