25th August 2019 Two weeks on the road.

Goodaye all. Sorry for missing last week, I left thinking I was going to Melbourne and back to Dubbo, but things change. Dubbo, Melbourne, Sydney (5 hours to unload at a DC, we will come back to this), Newcastle, Brisbane, Mackay (24 hour plus break, catching up on reading, some shopping and cleaning out the toolbox), Townsville, Mt Isa, Brisbane and home yesterday. Good to see some different roads, got some nice calls and comments from drivers (some asking was I lost?) and from customers. Being told mine was the best load ever delivered to one site was nice, but the comments on the truck and the curtains from those who have not seen them before, really makes it worthwhile for at least some of the effort put in.

Many have recently asked how long I have been in this truck and what am I doing about another one. This truck was 8 years old in July and the trailers will be 11 years old in October. They were ordered at the ATA Convention in Newcastle in 2008. Designing the first set of curtains and getting all the sponsors co-ordinated to supply their pieces and have it all done while still working fulltime was fun and I still hope to have the first set of curtains on another set of trailers and then set it all up as a BAB quad and then hope to sell you all photos, so I can afford to buy the next one and do more than I can now.
As you might then imagine, I have a lot of catching up to do and still have to finish my submission to the fourth HVNL review paper. But I will list a few bits from the last two weeks for comments and interest.

I got to my DC timeslot in Sydney after having to run to make the loading time in Melbourne, only told when nearly out of time to get there, then a call on the way from the prime contractor who asked, “Will you be there for a 5AM timeslot? No, the timeslot was only decided once I got loaded and was set for 10AM! No one told us, that should be OK. Thanks.” Then outside the gate on time in a que of well over 20 trucks. I rang and was told, “We will get to you.” Nearly 3 hours to get to the boom gate and not once, were any that I spoke to, told of what the problem was. Then on a dock and I thought all good, then sat there for another hour and a half waiting for someone to start unloading me.

I went to the office to ask what was going on and of course, the afternoon shift blamed the morning shift and could not tell me why I had waited 5 hours. I did leave a card and say I would be following up and was keen to have an explanation, rather than just complain. Things go wrong, but 5 hours. If I am more than 30 minutes late and 15 minutes at some sites, I am told, “You are late, you will have to rebook” and when you complain or try to explain, you are told, “That’s your problem.” How one sided is that? Until DCs are held to account for such delays, they will continue to abuse our time and use us as free storage and labour. Who will do something about this?

The USA were to bring in a law that delays of more than an hour or more at a DC would require payment of detention fees. Who do you think stopped that, the big companies of course? Had it got up there, I had hoped to find a way to get the same here, but how and who will do it? I will pursue the DC for an answer.

Had a shower at the BP in Townsville, still being refurbished after the massive flooding earlier in the year, had backpackers try to get in while I was in the bloody shower and then even before I got out the door. Walked back to the truck and said Goodaye to another driver, then saw he had a flat. Went and told him and he too had just got out of the shower and was suitably unimpressed. He said he might need a bit of a hand after his boss said, change it. He thought he had all the gear but was missing a brace bar, so I stayed and helped before I headed to Mt Isa.

Good to see many blue reflectors along the road to Mt Isa, but very small and seemingly not being maintained. I rang TMR in Mt Isa and was directed back to Cloncurry and with many green reflectors in Roma, done by a previous TMR Warwick man who helped me years ago and then moved to Roma and did a heap of sites there, I got a contact email for both and will pursue them both. More to do.

I wish I did not have to chase every district, state and still can’t find anyone in a position of authority in any state road agency, who will see the value and do some thing to have the green reflector marking of informal truck bays done properly. It is cheap, effective and will save lives till one day we have enough truck rest areas. There are now a couple more sites done here and there, but the logbook and the new camera system will not give anyone the time needed to do it all alone.

Leaving the Blue Heeler pub after tea there, in the next 5 hours, I saw one ute, one semi, one b-double and 12 triple roadtrains. Watching a truck for 15 minutes coming towards you across a flat terrain is different, even from the times when the Newell is quiet. The roos started at Longreach and missing dozens of others, I got one, the first to ever have an impact on the CTI system on the truck. The bloke at Kynuna obviously jinxed me, as he wanted to know all about the CTI, Central Tyre Inflation system on the drive tyres and asked, did I have trouble with roos. Luckily I had some spare bits.

I have said before any truck running the Newell will have less than half the life and or twice the wear and tear of any running the Hume and now the Pacific. There is work being done on the Newell, the Bruce and the Warrego, but there is a long way to go till we have the roads we have paid for and had that money spent on other things. Yes trucks use the road, we deliver to YOU! We deliver your food, your fuel, your clothes, car parts and things so you have a job to do and an income to earn. If you have to be safe at work, why is the road, as our workplace, not required to be safe for us to do our job?

I see the railways saying how hard it is to make a quid and that they are more efficient, but want all user charges removed to be able to compete with road. The thing is, they have their own “road”. It may well need better maintenance, but no one else uses it. Not only do you and every other car driver use the roads we too use, you are not taught to share it with us. I cannot go into any workplace, without being inducted and told what to do and how to act, often beyond simple common sense, (and that is a whole other discussion) but we share the road with you as motorists, yet you are not taught how to share it with us and unless you have been in a truck, do you really understand trucks?

There were at times during the day, more caravans on the road than trucks and I must say those who stopped in truck bays, mostly seemed to have made the effort to park off the bitumen and give us room. I called up a number of vans, some who did the right thing and tried to help or moved over, some answered and then, if no sign on the van, I asked if they had considered a sign showing they were on UHF 40. Most said thanks and it was a good idea. One fellow moved right off the road, yet we were in an overtaking lane so two lanes to use and he still moved over the fog line. I did explain that was not the best thing to do and why and he thanked me for the info.

I could go on, but have to catch up on other things yet, so will wish you all Safe Travelling. I will be on the road Monday to Melbourne and will take my computer and camera, to ensure I will be straight back, a bit of reverse psychology perhaps. Cheers Rod.

11th August 2019 Not Happy Birthday.

Goodaye all, thanks to my youngest daughter for help with airline bookings and our Rod Pilon Tpt Melbourne manager, I was able to attend my sisters’ funeral in Townsville, Tuesday. It was a long day getting back into Melbourne depot near midnight, but I was glad to be able to attend. My sister passed away after a diabetes attack, she had been dealing with it for some years, but was a no nonsense, live life woman. We had not had much time together as children, but I did get to visit with her and some of her family last trip to Townsville some months ago. They came out and picked me up, took me home for tea and a shower and I am glad I got to see her then. Sadly missed and too early departed, Love you Gayle.

I am trying to keep up with the HVNL review, paper 3 response lodged and working on 4 due at the end of this month. Safe People and Practices another 67 pages, asks some hard questions. What does the current HVNL do well, little from a drivers point of view, but it is not simple to explain. I am trying and I hear the cynicism of many drivers who have done so before, and nothing changed. Do I hope they will listen, yes, but there needs to be more voices telling them the problems and offering solutions.

The following should be read by those here who want Electronic Work Diaries here in Australia.

Dave Heller, vice president, legislative affairs, Truckload Carriers Association, speaks to The Machinery Haulers Association at its annual meeting in Fontana, Wisconsin, on July 25, 2019.
To begin with, Heller notde that love them or hate them, electronic logging devices (ELDs) are providing the trucking industry with massive amounts of real-time data about how trucks operate and how truck drivers spend their days. This data, Heller said, is now highlighting – with hard information – the need for more flexible Hours of Service rules, highlighting an “epidemic” in unsafe driving caused by smartphones as well as detention time issues and other industry problems.
“ELDs were never going to make you safer,” Heller told attendees at the conference, adding that a Northwestern University study found that accidents have not decreased as a result of the ELD Mandate, which went into effect last year. “They are a compliance tool. It is the Hours of Service which will help make your operations safer. That’s because the data they provide can be used to shape better regulations in the future.”

Those who think EWDs will stop crashes and that we can be micro-managed by those who do not have to do the job, should take serious note. Detention times were to be legislated to be paid in the USA, but the bill didn’t get up. Who do you think stopped it, not truckers, that’s for sure. The need for “FLEXIBLE” hours of service, and this not by a driver, means some are listening to drivers there, but they may well have put the cart before the horse.

Without flexible rules, rest areas where and when and the size and facilities needed, how do we manage our fatigue? The logbook will not do it for you and if you get it wrong, the penalties far outweigh the road safety risk in the majority of minor breaches, yet the cost to defend yourself can exceed the fine and the authorities know and abuse this from my point of view.

We need a fair and cheap review panel for breaches and that could well see us get a fair justice system for truckies. That is not what we have now. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

5th August 2019, sadness and safety.

Goodaye all. I am currently in Melbourne and fly out to my sisters funeral in Townsville in the morning and need some more sleep, so will try to be succinct. So much to say and so little time, but then how do we as truckies get heard by the mainstream public? I have said the aim of the TIV was to put a different face forward than we usually get in front of the public. When there is a crash, generally it is announced as a truck crash, not a crash involving a truck, so we are all too often deemed guilty by default.

If I were involved in a crash, found to have taken drugs, killed someone (whether my fault or not, I would most often initially be blamed anyway) I would be on all the media for the wrong reasons. Yet when I have a truck that promotes the industry and road safety, a working truck, not a show pony, I still can’t get anywhere near the exposure and traction I would like to.

I got an email about a survey on dash-cam footage. I filled it in and have responded directly to the researcher, saying it seemed very negative, nearly saying the only reason for putting up dash-cam footage, was to shame or lambast someone else and in doing so, the person putting it up, sought some higher position or their view was the only one.

I do not know about worldwide, but my understanding is the first dash-cam, at least in Australia was put together by a truckie. It was done because he was sick of telling people what stupid things car drivers did in front of trucks and no one would believe him, so he looked for, sourced components and came up with the idea and I had one from him, very early on.

Many years ago when it was first spoken of, I did three different spots on TV current affairs shows and they were generally positive. Now of course they are everywhere and have been taken to the next level in many fleets of not just watching the traffic outside, but the driver as well and I do have a problem with that, when I live in the truck up to 6 days a week. More of those who don’t have to do, telling those who do, how to do it!

I still believe that there is a real value in showing mistakes made by drivers who do not understand sharing the road with trucks, to save the lives of others. Not all truckies are perfect either, we too are human, but we go to work and want to get home safely each trip. Now you would say, doesn’t everyone?
If that was what we were all thinking as we drove, perhaps we would all be safer on the road. Instead of this, it seems many forget, think it will never happen to them, or think, they own the road and everyone else should get out of the way. Or do they simply not think of anything except getting in front of the next car, or saving two seconds on their trip?

I will ask you all and go to bed.

When you are behind the wheel, do you think of safety, yours and or all others you are sharing the road with? Do you think other drivers do? Or do you just think of other things? How do we focus people’s attentions on the road and of course, we cannot put mind control in place to do so for every second someone is behind the wheel, or should we go that far to save lives? Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.