22nd December 2019 Merry Christmas.

Goodaye all. A big week on the road, Dubbo to Melbourne to Dubbo to Newcastle to Emerald, Brisbane and back home today. Got the aircon fixed, a new idler pulley, repair to a curtain roller, some tyres changed and a bit of loading and unloading along the way.

An animal week, hit three roos, no major damage, just some nut covers (bugger) missed two wombats, saw a fawn, an eagle, a dingo, missed a big water bird and a few others. Plenty of bumps hit and recorded with a couple that I plan to follow up on ASAP.
Spoke with RMS re signage on the new overtaking lanes near Dubbo, explained green reflector bays to a couple of drivers and wished a few mates Merry Christmas on the phone. To all the drivers and people who will not be with their families for Christmas, thanks for the jobs you do and I hope you get time with them over the holidays.

I was to have some time off, the first time since being at RPT, but one customer still needed to get the freight out so I put my hand up and we found some freight in Melbourne, for the return, so I will be loading tomorrow and leaving Boxing Day, unload and reload Friday and home Saturday.

Some years ago we did the U2 tour which went from Melbourne to Brisbane, to Sydney and then finished in Perth. I was the last truck to leave and I loaded and left there, drove for three days to Melbourne where I must admit I had to cheat a bit of time to get unloaded and reloaded, then left Christmas eve and got home 9AM Christmas Day, the only time Santa beat me home.

It was my first and only show trip and at one stage I asked one of the tour people could I do a story. He said no, they had previously had people do stories and were not happy with the outcome. I offered to allow them to vet anything before printing, but he said, definitely not. So I asked someone else and was standing outside the tour managers door when the first fellow walked past and asked me what I was doing. I said I have an interview with the tour manager and he shook his head and walked off.

I wrote a story for Owner Driver, which I had to keep down in words and was then approached by a mate and had to extend it and it is one of four stories I contributed to “Great Australian Trucking Stories” by Jim Haynes. I have had a number of drivers comment on the story and if you are looking for a late Chrissy present for a truckie, consider it and you can also get it as an audio book, read by Jim himself and I have a copy. It was strange that when I was approached about my Audiobooks for the road Facebook page by Big Rigs, I was reading the trucking one.

I do believe we have too few books on trucking in Australia and little history of those involved. The Road Transport Hall of Fame do sell some, but it is not where all can attend as easily as others. If you know of a good trucking history book, please let me know. I do have copies of “They Came like Waves” by Jeffrey Ffrost and this was an excellent story about how trucking got going after the war, then there was another book about the Hughes and Vale case which got road tax removed. I highly recommend both.

I also have a copy of “Where the Big Rigs Fly” which I had to buy as an old library book form the USA. It turned out to be signed by the authors, so quite a bonus. I had started to try and build my own road transport library, but ran out of time to read and chase them all, but one day?

I also still have a number of unbuilt truck model kits from years ago, I built them when I was a kid and whilst they have travelled in boxes as we have moved, I am not sure how much is still intact. All these things to do when I have time.

May I wish you all A Merry Christmas and a Trucking Good New Year, hope you continue to enjoy my writings and I will keep on trying for trucking in 2020. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

15th December 2019 The week that was.

Goodaye all. How do we explain our job to others, yet not make them concerned with all on the road? I had a big week, a few incidents and some time constraints that I managed to meet, yet could have had big impacts, had I not.
I was following a learner driver, they were doing about 85 and I was catching up in an overtaking lane. I gave a flash getting towards the end as I got close, to really ask both the learner and the teacher, would they let me pass? As I got to the back of the car at the very end of the overtaking lane, the learner still in the left hand lane and not yet moved over or indicating, at the very last second possible, they indicated and moved over into my lane.

As they had to cross a broken line, they should have given way to me and I would hope the teacher would have thought it wise to teach the learner the rules correctly and to teach common sense. Would you agree it would be better to slow early and let a truck go past on a major highway, than pull out with less than a car distance in front of a loaded b-double and then travel down the road at 80 kph for the next hundred k. Not this teacher it seems.

So being fully loaded, I could not get past till they actually turned off the road, not that far along, but again, surely better to have let me past and on my way than stuck behind when they were turning off soon anyway. How do we ever guarantee that parents teach the rules and good common sense on the road, specifically if they may know nothing about trucks themselves.
Then on my way into Melbourne at night on the Hume, me in the left lane with cars catching me in the right hand lane, a car was behind me and merging from the left. This car flashed me virtually asking why I did not just slow, but stop and let them in? Which part of the law about giving way to the traffic you are merging with, did this goose not understand? They were not the only ones with this idea this month.

The next was a truck passing me going up the Toowoomba range, me loaded, him a light semi only and as he passed, he pulled over far too early and had I not swerved to the left, would have hit me. I waited for an apology, none forthcoming, but I did not abuse him, though did consider it, to be honest.
There were other minor incidents, none dangerous or really stupid, just the usual things where car drivers expect me to let them in etc when I am at 65 tonne, just because they think I should, let alone they were meant to give way to me.

Then there were the time issues. Up on hours the night before, in a spot I am not fully aware of all rest areas and after a couple of unsuitable tries, found and used a suitable informal site for a 7 hour break, but would not suit green reflectors, as would be a problem in the wet. Leaving the next morning I was nearly at a customer and as I only had an address on my paperwork initially and not keen relying on just that, so got a phone number from the web, rang them to be told they were away, didn’t know I was coming and not only could I unload myself, but did I have the new address? When they mentioned the address, I had passed it a few k back, so then not only had to find somewhere to turn a fully loaded b-double round safely, but had to go back. That time and the longer unloading time, though all went OK there, meant I was now looking at a tight run to get loaded that afternoon.

Got there in time, lovely loading site, hot breeze lifting the curtains, blowing my corflute about and had to of course, for my safety, have long sleeves etc to make nearly certain, I could suffer complete heat stroke. Out of there, first break for the day, but instructed to take a different route. Made that just, early the next morning then off again. We had tried to get in contact with the customer to arrange a Saturday delivery, in case of delays on the road. No one replied and so I rang Friday morning to confirm a time late Friday or Saturday. Not keen on Saturday, what time can I be there this afternoon? I suggested 5.15 to 5.30 and considering I was still in Brisbane and had to detour via Toowoomba to get further south, I thought I did well ringing at 4 to confirm arrival at about 5.15. the boss had agreed to stay back for me.

Details to get in from across the street, as you would have difficulty getting a b-double in the gate off the address road and then, thank goodness, another way out as it looked like a dead end once inside. Down the road, tried three places for food, one no, next two closed, but got something and a bit left from the frig, then down the road further and to bed early. Home Saturday, to then go and get some tyres fitted for another driver, thanks Rod.

There are drivers who have done more k’s. harder loads and tighter timeslots, this is not to say it is hard, but the majority of the issues I dealt with like most other weeks but perhaps, not so invasive, were both from others and mostly outside of my control, yet I have to make it work. Had I not got unloaded Friday afternoon, I may have been expected to stay away till I could unload Monday, not bloody likely.

All we ask for is good roads, suitable and sufficient rest areas and that those we share the road with, be taught to share it with us. Not completely unreasonable, yet it seems, very difficult to achieve and believe me, harder on your own with little support. What can or will you do, to help me achieve these goals? Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

8th December 2019 Bourke, here I went.

Goodaye all. Trying to get too much done, not enough time to keep up, so out of Dubbo late last Sunday afternoon, into Brisbane early Monday. Me rained on while looking where to park and where I had to be to then get backed in, to either be able to split and or, get in as a double to unload. Backed under a tree, cost, one branch and me wet more, checking all was OK. Hard to see above and behind you in the dark and the rain.

Wait for customer (thanks to daylight saving for getting in my break and it didn’t even fade the paint on the truck) where I had been told I would have to split to unload, not so and another b-double reversing challenge accepted and done in two goes, no rain thank goodness to unload. Another copy of Owner Driver to a customer, interested in the TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle and its curtains etc.

I had sought a day off if not needed and luckily that worked, so with thanks to Nick and Dave from Rod Pilon Tpt Brisbane, I was able to attend the HVNL Compliance and Enforcement meeting last Monday. Thanks to young mate and driver Nick for also making the effort. His first at of one of these sort of events and he had a go, contributed where he could and is keen to make a difference and see things improve. He admitted to being a little overloaded with detail and much to think and reflect on after the event, but like all these things unfortunately, there were from my point of view, not enough drivers with the only ones being him and I.

True the regulators and others must have a say, but who gets the most “in your face” compliance and enforcement issues? Drivers need to have more and better access to such events. The other side of course is the vast majority of those attending would be being paid whilst attending, or at least not be losing wages etc as drivers would and do.

I networked, offered a trip to a couple of prominent players, had one offer me a camera and am still to follow up on others. This one of four such meetings, aiming to solidify some of the input to the HVNL review papers and to gauge feelings on issues. Workshopping multiple themes, able to float and contribute between groups as needed or stay and watch and learn. Using an app to allow all to then vote on the outcomes from each group, seemed a good use of technology and a fair and open way to gain the feelings of the group attending.

Once back in the yard, load and away and back up the Gap, finally open since Friday and looking forward to the best feed of rissoles and salad on the road at Fisher Park, but they like many others lucky not to get burned out but with the road closed for a lengthy period, business seriously affected so had to have sausages, but still a terrific feed.

A couple of pick ups in Warwick, then a few drops and into Dubbo for the night, still in room K200 and up at 1AM for the Triple M Nightshift spot. Unloaded and reloaded while an axle problem addressed, off to Wagga for the night and catch up on diary and paperwork. Unload Wagga, unload Griffith and pick up Griffith, more reversing practice, more times here to get in and tighter too, letting cars through was my excuse and then into Melbourne, unload reload and off again.

A night at The Rock and planning for home Friday night till I got a phonecall, would I like to do a trip to Bourke tonight? Working out hours and stuff, details suggested a possible problem, but roadtrained out with a snack at Nyngan, Saturday long process unloading and swinglifting, but home in Dubbo at 4.45 so I can go to Melbourne following my regulation 24 hour break.

I did manage to find some green reflector bays, putting the industry needs first, as none out that way. Still a couple more to do one day and plenty of other roads as well.

Sunday and been to the library for some new audiobooks and music, done shopping for the week and cleaned the frig and half packed the truck. Still got lots to do and may defer audiobooks review for this week till next as have to fix a mudflap if I get time. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.
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1st December 2019 older and or crankier?

Goodaye all. So many things to attend and contribute to. I was invited to attend and even speak at the Heavy Vehicle Forum in Wagga Wednesday last, but as I could not guarantee it, deferred hoping to attend if I could. However I ended up getting some suspension repairs done in Dubbo, so missed that one, but was then contacted by ABC radio and did get to hear most of Phil Brooks comments in the interview they did with him after the event while on hold. I then had a chance to respond and covered most of my usual areas of concern.

I may still be able to get to the NTC meeting Brisbane Monday and am currently trying to sort that. I do recognise there is some feedback being put forward by the NTC from submissions and comments thus far and welcome the chance to get those comments out to more people, for further feedback. It must be a consultative process, otherwise we will be told by those who don’t have to do it, how to, yet again.

I must be getting older, or drivers are getting worse. None of us likes being tailgated and many will whinge about a truck being too close behind (and yes, some do, yet often we must be reasonably close, to have any chance of safely overtaking those who wish to travel below the speedlimit) yet more and more, even when there is no traffic behind them and even more ridiculously on dual lanes, cars overtake and then pull in front with less than a car length between us. They whinge when we are too close, yet do the exact thing they whinge about to us. If there is only two lanes and a car coming, I don’t want anyone on the wrong side for longer than necessary, but when there is no one and no need, why must they pull in so close? Please explain?

Those who must also pass the truck before the exit, no matter how close to the exit, then chop across in front of the truck are getting prolific. Some such racing car drivers, will then cross up to three lanes at the very last second and will take offence should I protest with the horn. I know life is short and hectic, but why must we try to make it much shorter and risk others lives, simply to save two seconds, yet often still be in the very same spot on the exit ramp. Most of our highway signage gives some warning, so you can access the correct lane before the exit, yes sometimes we miss such signs, but it is becoming worse and more dangerous that the odd one. It seems they simply must pass the truck at any cost to cut the truck off for the exit. Why???

I am getting a bit frustrated, still trying to get the next and last TIV on the road. To any with a million spare and a love of trucks, happy to put your name on it if you want to help.

Then we have all the other truckies getting older (and probably crankier too and no wonder with the antics above as not even a small part of the issues on the road). And mostly they too want better roads (not happening in many places, some even getting worse), better education of car drivers about sharing the road with trucks (some efforts here including my own with the Truckies Top Ten Tips and now the videos http://www.sharetheroad.net.au getting some extra traction on Facebook, please share if you agree) and not even just more, but better and sufficient rest areas.

How do we manage our fatigue if there is nowhere to park, sleep and go to the loo? We seem to be losing spots here and there in districts and areas across Australia, then getting one parking bay. We need a National Rest Area Strategy, not just for truckies, but for all road users. However, we are the only ones fined substantial amounts if we don’t stop when our inflexible and now camera supported logbooks say we must. Whether we are tired or not, whether there is shade and or a toilet or any food for miles, we must stop when a book tells you to. Does this manage our fatigue? No. Does it make the roads safer? No. Would better education of motorists and more rest areas improve road safety for all? Yes. Then why has it taken so long for the former and still no real effort on the latter?

Can you help? Yes you can, by making comment, being positive, spreading the word and doing your best to be compliant, yet holding the authorities to task to help us achieve compliance, not punishing us for failing to do it their way! I ask you now, do you think truckies are all bad? Do you think we honestly get a fair go?

I want you to watch every truck you see in the next week and keep a tally. How many just do the job well and safely and you in theory, may not notice them at all? But those that do the wrong thing (and this may only be wrong in your eyes as you are not driving the truck) are the ones you will remember and tell others about. I have asked this of radio presenters and each time they have come back with, “I didn’t realise how many trucks are on the road and that before, I only really saw those I thought were doing something I thought wrong”.

I would welcome any replies. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.