24th November 2019

Goodaye all. Rushing to get to work now, a too short week-end. Late home Saturday, I got the TIV washed at the King of the Road Truckwash late Friday night, went to bed and then had a sleep in. Back to Dubbo, a bit off and a bit on, sorted but still have to finish some paperwork before I go. Got to BPW to have the EBS checked Monday, fixed one problem and found another, and hope to sort this week.

Earlier in the week came out of Brisbane to Toowoomba the Gap still closed, to get to Warwick for a pick up and the smoke was there all the way from Toowoomba to Warwick and on to Goondiwindi. Australia, a land of drought and flooding rains and then we add bushfires to fill out the list. Many affected and I fear it will get worse before it gets better. Thank you to all the fireies and others who have done their bit to help.

I managed to get to talk to the Senate inquiry at Albury Friday morning. Whilst I missed the NTC meeting in Melbourne Thursday, you can only do so much as an employed driver and whilst sometimes it works, it, like much of our jobs, is all too often well out of our hands. I had been contacted and offered a spot, but could not confirm till Thursday at the earliest as I had hoped to be in Melbourne for Thursday, then Albury Friday on the way home, but not so.

I thank Glen Sterle and the other members of the inquiry for giving me the chance to talk to them. I did add about the locked in and completely ridiculous way our living away from home and meals allowance are controlled now. In a previous discussion with Glen on the phone, he told me what the pollies get for meal allowance and whilst I do not begrudge them what they get, I don’t see any correlation in how they should be treated so differently.

I spoke first so I could get on the way to Melbourne and unload and reload etc and believe there was up to a dozen others to follow. I covered most of the contents of my written submission, offered all of the members of the inquiry a trip in the TIV (and Glen has confirmed he will take me up on it in the new year) and hope they can do something to see things change for the better.

Have to rush now to set myself up for the week. If you get stuffed about on the first night, it can have such a bad effect on the rest of the week, but those of you who drive, know all about it. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

17th November 2019 TWAL 20th Dinner.

Goodaye all. Last night I accompanied my daughter Katie and her partner Luke, to the Transport Women Australia Limited (TWAL) 20th Anniversary Gala Dinner in Melbourne. TWAL through their sponsorship from Daimler, have four scholarships available to help people improve their knowledge or advance their transport career. TWAL made other awards including the inaugural Pickering Memorial Award to Pam McMillan, for her over 18 years involvement with the group.

The four winners came from 4 different states and each has a different course or aim and my daughter Katie was one of the four winners. Katie aims to do a Certificate 4 in Transport and Logistics and her employer will also contribute to the course cost. The “Driving the Difference Scholarships” will help those achieve more I am sure. To my knowledge, these are the only scholarships of this type available to those within the transport industry and I would like to thank and congratulate Daimler and TWAL for the initiative.

Many other companies support TWAL, some like PACCAR, Cummins and Teletrac-Navman are also supporters of the TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle and without all those supporters, TWAL would not be able to work to encourage women into trucking. How many other groups go the extra mile to get young women in? There is a group in the USA as well and much like everything there, it is much bigger, but to all who have been involved here with TWAL since its inception, all involved now and those women who want to help and participate, even if only through being a member and doing their bit to improve things for all, I would heartily recommend you consider joining TWAL. Men can join as well to support and contribute and we need good young people to get involved.

One hundred and eighty-eight attended the dinner and it was well run and organised, congratulations to all involved. It is not often I get the chance to meet with those outside of drivers and yet, many of the conversations I took part in, centred on the other aspects and careers in the industry which are often over-looked. I was at the table with the four winners and each has a role that has given them a chance to contribute their skills and passion to an industry many love and enjoy.

I spoke with the four winners and hope they all do well in their careers. We have little positives in many ways in our industry as too often we only seem to attract the bad press and this is certainly one of those positives, an association of women helping others get involved in transport. Well done.
Many asked how I got there and thanks as always to Rod Pilon Transport for helping. I took a load down, did some rearranging Saturday before heading off to the dinner and have spent today taking it easy, though I have cleaned out the trailer toolboxes and caught up on some TV. I have a couple of drops to do in the morning and hope to get a couple of things looked at on the TIV before loading out tomorrow afternoon.

I had two incidents during the week, one a truck with overheating brakes that drew much comment on the UHF and another where a fellow said he did not see all the signs at roadworks. Thankfully he just overshot the queued traffic but copped an earful again on the radio. It could have been much worse, and both go to show, you can’t not watch and or be aware of what you are doing.

None of us are perfect, but one of those incidents could be lousy or no training, getting a license when that alone is not enough for you to survive on the roads and the other a lack of or loss of concentration. Either could have become a major crash or cost a life. How do we change that? How do we ensure that drivers know what is required and keep doing it? If you can answer that, you will make a difference.

Applications are open again for NHVR Heavy Vehicle Safety projects and if you have a safety idea, if you think you have the solution to a road safety problem, then make an effort to put in a submission. You may save a life or many, but that won’t happen if we all sit back and do nothing and expect others to do it for us. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

10th November 2019 Time, food and tax.

Goodaye again. Got back to Dubbo Friday, in for a service, do a couple of little jobs on the trailers then home. Have had a quiet day, dinner with family and still trying to catch up on news and events. I have tried to read most of the submissions for the senate inquiry (and did do the same for the HVNL review but have got behind in them) and there are some good points raised. Thanks to all who have submitted and to those in the future who will whinge about the outcome, whatever it may be, you had a chance and couldn’t be bothered, so don’t whinge now. Forty odd submissions to the Senate Inquiry, will that be enough and will they listen? Let’s hope.

Either I am getting older and angrier or car drivers are getting worse. It seems I can’t go even one trip into or out of a capital city, without at the very least one car driver, and often more, rushing to pass me and then at the last minute, push across and take an exit, they could simply have stayed behind and taken in safety. Yes, sometimes we get caught in the wrong lane and no one will let you across, but this seems deliberate and nearly a game. Yes I can get past this b-double and push in before the exit, sometimes more than one, sometimes at nearly the very last second and should I be so arrogant to suggest they have done the wrong thing (they have and risked not only their own lives and their passengers) by a blast on the horn, most will give me the finger.

Similarly, how can someone who has a license and therefore should know the rules and laws, expect a large heavily loaded truck to slow for them to merge simply because they are there and want to get in front of the truck. By law, they, the merging party must give way, but they won’t wait for the truck to go past and merge, they must be in front no matter what or how much they have to push in. Some will then have the immediate need to stop or turn at the next exit, obviously in a life or death hurry, the same with the pushers in, must you risk lives to simply gain two spaces or two seconds?

Are we teaching aggression, are we teaching stupidity to our learners, or are those older drivers simply in too much of a rush? I would welcome your thoughts.
Well done to the NHVR on the announcement of the personal use time for truckies being also available now on BFM and AFM. It is something I have been asking for, for many years. Yes, I saw it was available to drivers in the USA and asked, why not here? If I am stuck on a 24 hour break away from home, I have a license for the truck, I have a registered vehicle, with the owners permission, why can I not legally use it to go to the shop or chemist or whatever? Why should I get a $600 fine for going to the shop to buy food or supplies for my next week on the road? It has been an unfair and even yet another revenue raising penalty, simply because I am a truckie. THANKS NHVR.

On the other side of that, there are some truckstops who till now, knew we risked a fine to go to the supermarket to get the goods they sell at higher prices. Perhaps this will make some more competitive and give us better value. It may well give us the chance to get better, different or fresher food elsewhere, or even help us be more healthy on the road. Let’s hope so.

But do we then get a fair go at the tax office? If I buy food on the road, it is dearer than the places I simply cant access to park near in a b-double. If I buy that food to save some money at a supermarket to then eat on the road, I can’t claim it? Is this fair, no. But what can we do about it? Let me know your solutions please. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

3rd November 2019 Raining and home.

Goodaye all. Well for the first time in a while, I got home to Dubbo Friday, unloaded and will load Monday for Brisbane. Got a new logbook and audiobooks on the way home and now I will have time to finish my submission for the senate inquiry, write a piece about my request for both a National Road Standard and a National Rest Area Strategy, do my audiobook reviews, write this blog and catch up with all the other industry news and issues. The road standard and rest area strategy have been mentioned in HVNL review submissions, but there will not be a number 8 HVNL paper and I had planned to do a conclusion and include more details there. So I now have to send it to the NTC direct.

Both will be in the senate submission and have been mentioned in HVNL, but not to completion. I am disappointed at the number of submissions to both, but did hassle a mate when he rang last week to get something in and he has done so, along with a couple of others I have asked. I continue to believe the HVNL review did not get the exposure it needed to get more input.

The NTC and I understand also the senate inquiry, will be holding meetings where you can attend and that is well and good for those in associations who will be paid to attend. No one will pay a driver to attend as far as I know and it is just not the time. Even a company CEO who feels strongly enough to get up and support the industry and hopefully his drivers, will be paid to attend. He will not lose income and his company will pay for accommodation and airfares etc.

I cannot do all I would like, unless I completely ignore my bills and my family and neither of them will forgive or respect me for it, nor should they. It just highlights the near hypocrisy of reviews and inquiries that not all are treated the same. This is why I wanted more action to include drivers and their views. We are the only ones directly affected by much of the laws involved, both in how it controls our life on the road, but also in the actions we must then take to comply.

We must do as the law says to comply, if we don’t, we can be punished and our families too by the fines that often have nothing to do with road safety. Many drivers have commented for years, we are the only ones punished, we are the only ones held to account, we are forced to drive when tired and sleep when we are not, to comply with laws designed and policed by those who sit in boardrooms with hot and cold running secretaries, loos on every floor, five star food within reach and similar accommodation when they leave home.

Come and live on the road for a week and see what you think then. I have before had many members of the NTC do a trip with me. All have said they gained from the experience. One fellow came back to me after a discussion about a trip and said, “I will do a trip with you to Albury” (from Melbourne where he was based). I said, “Sorry no. Unless you agree to do a trip from Melbourne to Dubbo, I will not take you. If you only go to Albury, all you will see is the Hume Highway and you will go away thinking you know about transport and our problems. Yes, I will explain them all during the trip, but you must see more than the Hume, or I am not doing my part and you will miss all the issues.”

He came back to me and agreed to do the full trip and was to do so in his own time, but the NTC agreed to pay him for it and I agree they should have. He later attended a meeting, where someone said, “He took a 180 degree turn from where he was at the meeting before the trip.” How many in any state jurisdiction, transport ministry, or any industry group or union work fulltime on the road? Yes we can write submissions and put in comments, but as two of the first submissions to the senate inquiry commented (and there were only 15 at the first cut-off date) “I have written to these things before and nothing has changed so why should I bother now. Nothing will change now.” I do understand this frustration and feel it deeply.

What more can I do? I have spent well over 50 hours on HVNL and now senate inquiry submissions. I have done radio interviews asking for drivers to put in submissions. I have had industry press push hard for more access and submissions and asked individual drivers to contribute. Will anything change? I bloody hope so. Have to complete the other writings now, so back to the direct stuff. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.