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.