26th April 2020 “Lest we forget”

Goodaye all. “Lest we forget”. This virus has killed people and changed our way of lives, yet it has not and never will, kill the Aussie spirit. I hope each of you had the chance to reflect, watch the local driveway service or simply remember those who gave so much, so we can live the life we do now.

Thanks to those who shared last weeks video, I might try and do it once a month, sorry about the bike and plane noise, can’t control everything. Had a slightly slower week with the later start on Monday, got held over and delayed with deliveries a few times during the week, but home to say hello, catch up and off to Melbourne this afternoon. Did a podcast for a fellow after getting out of the truck yesterday afternoon, following him seeing the video, and also did some filming for a piece for ABC TV during the week and will let you know how and when that airs. This follows on from an online piece for ABC (which I am told reached 100,000 people) about being on the road now with the virus etc and as always, thanks to Rod Pilon Transport for working in and allowing filming in the Dubbo yard. Did a similar piece for ABC Dubbo radio after filming and have another booked for next week for the wider region.

Tuesday traffic was gridlocked in Melbourne due to the crash on the Princess Hwy, a fatality where according to the news on the day, a car was hit and shunted into the path of two truck and dog combinations and the car driver died. Then of course the horrific crash in Melbourne with the four Police being killed. Nothing can change what happened and I feel for all involved and hope something like that never happens again.

None of us go to work to die or be involved in such a tragedy. Not matter how many factors contributed and all the what ifs you can imagine, won’t bring those people back, but we must find a way to lessen the chance of such a thing happening and the risks with any job as much as we can. I do hope we will learn what caused it in the future, so to try and prevent it happening again.

It was noted in another industry piece I saw, that there was little of the “truck Crash” commentary on either incident and the comment was made perhaps the press attitude had been mollified with us now being seen by more as essential. Let’s hope this continues.

We still have to do our part, we have to behave professionally, drive for those who simply don’t understand trucks on the road, too often because they were never taught to do so. I am very disappointed that not one of the state road authorities were interested in using our Truckies Top Tips videos as part of the testing for young drivers.

Unless you have family and or have been in a truck for a trip, many have the view we are all bad, push people off the road etc, because that is all they ever hear or are told. I have said for many years that unfortunately people only see the truck that does the wrong thing (and then they will tell everyone about the bad truckie), they don’t see all the rest of the trucks simply doing their job and delivering everything you use.

With so few cars on the road, I see they are saying pollution is dropping, it is a pity all the roadside rubbish isn’t just disappearing as well. It is criminal and basically bloody laziness for people to buy food and drinks, travel down the road and simply throw their rubbish out the window. I have a small bin in the truck, which holds all my rubbish till I get to a depot or truckstop so I can put it in the bin. I don’t buy cans or bottles of drink, too much waste and carry water and diet cordial along with milk for cereal in my frig, so less to carry till I can dispose of.

How many of you do the right thing and how can we change this for those who don’t? When I have to stop and walk along the road to check on green reflector bays, it is terrible the amount of rubbish on the roadside and much of it within a drink or snack from a town. Surely all can have a bag or box for rubbish and do the right thing. Any suggestions and solutions for this problem, will be welcome. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

19th April 2020. Lets try a video.

Goodaye all. I am very concerned with our roads now, the way they are not being repaired properly, the cost to the country and our industry being blamed and charged, yet not being involved. This week-end I will be emailing three states about roads and conditions and failures. One for lousy work on current repairs, one for bad practices and lousy repairs, the other for dangerous sections and the fact that they have wasted hundreds of thousands on bad repairs.

For something a little bit different, I will attach a video for your comments, support and further distribution if you agree with its content. I have had people out of the blue ring me and say, we have to get the public on board, now when we are being recognised and seen as essential etc. Please click the link to watch the video. Thanks to my daughter Kaiya for the camera work and daughter Katie for back up.

We must of course be careful, many people are out of work, some truckies and companies are struggling as well and we have a long way to go to arrest this virus and try and return to what we all hope we be closer to our normal way of life, but I am sure you will agree, that may not happen. We will see where it all goes, but we truckies we keep on truckin’ and delivering Australia. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

12th April Happy Easter to you all.

Goodaye all. Off to Toowoomba last Sunday afternoon, had a glitch nearing Wellcamp and thought I was imagining it, maybe. Unloaded next morning, left for Dalby to do a pick-up to feel a miss but not a miss, as if it was turning on and off, rather than not running smoothly. Got permission to go back to Brown and Hurley Toowoomba, rang them and explained the problem and codes and arrange a time. They are running two separate but shorter shifts with cleaning between, second shift got me to drop the trailers and went to work.

Thinking it was hopefully simply electrical (and they said initially should be a few hours) first check-up, yes found and fixing, good soon. Second check-up, now have another problem, red check engine light on. Third check-up and now worrying about time to complete and where I was going to stay, told they needed a plug, (a previous repair at Roma had done a roadside repair that had held, but was affected by work on first problem) could not get the part number and so then not the part and getting one now not likely, so rang our depot.

Then, “we can try and get it going so I could park outside to go to bed and then complete in the morning”, whilst on the phone to Brissie depot, no leave it there, fix it properly in the morning and they would come and get me. They tried a couple of motels, no answer with the virus perhaps, waiting at the gate to be asked where I was going and then offered a lift to meet my bloke half-way, yes thanks. There are still some good if older truckies about. Thanks Daz.

In Brisbane depot late in the evening, helped load a set of trailers with the load I had been due to take, so another driver could quick hitch, then taken back to the supervisors place for a shower and better bed than at work. Thanks David. Up in the morning, to the depot, do a bit of cleaning up, a pick-up for another truck, then back to Toowoomba. Plan then was to load in Brissie following morning, but then told I was needed in Dubbo for another load to Melbourne next day. All good, back to Brissie yard, loaded up and off to Fisher Park for tea, then onto Narrabri.

Quick stop for Triple M Nighshift spot just before I got there, went well (and got a call from a driver Friday saying I had nailed the issue of car speedos reading slow and he had only recently spoken with a car driver whose partner following had given him the finger after overtaking).

Forgot to change the time on the bunk clock from Daylight saving, got up unbuckled and unstrapped, had breakfast and thinking, hmm, they are late today, only to check watch to find it is still only 7AM. Damn, not going back to bed now, catch up on some paperwork and my diary. Unload, back to Dubbo with a plan to be loaded in the depot, change of plan, unload and go and load and then back to yard, top up and go. Off to Temora, tea from my mate at the Tiger Moth Inn, rang ahead and ate in the truck. Not a designated truckstop or driver lounge, so can’t eat inside. Down the road and planned a kip, overslept, so bugger it, make it my 7 hour break and back to sleep.

Still don’t have a load out of Melbourne yet, do delivery, get a call, got a load from Bayswater, don’t go there till 3PM. Ok, back in yard, have lunch, chat with another driver about the old Hume and arrange him to start writing a list of names of places and why named such for the future, then Ah, we need a part for another truck, from Bayswater, so I better get going so I can pick it up.

Luckily close to loading point, in and explain issue with part, yes you can drop your trailers here and we will wait for you. Thanks, won’t be long and much easier to get part bobtail, just a bit harder to get it in the cab.
Back to pick up trailers to put in to load, had to drop to load, their rules and then some minor things we each wanted to do differently, but in the end all sorted and out the slide, pulling up at Springhurst parking bay and to bed Thursday night.

Had a decent sleep and off to Dubbo for a break, did a radio spot with ABC Wagga Saturday as I would normally have been at “The Stone the Crows Festival” talking to vanners about sharing the road with trucks, and tomorrow to Brissie for Tuesday. Drop trailers, them home, change the sheets and clean the frig out in the truck and then catch up with all this stuff too including audio books review and Owner Driver column. No rest for the wicked. Happy Easter to you all, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

5th April 2020 Food and behaviour.

Goodaye all. Another big week on the road, less traffic so very quiet and lonely at times, a welcome return to being able to eat in a roadhouse, subject of course to guidelines etc, though some roadhouses still to be aware. My favourite café in Temora, who of course could not let me eat there under the current rules (and I did ring ahead as normal), made my meal and even brought it out to me to eat in the truck. Still not as good as sitting down to a meal, but one stop gap measure when you have no other alternative.

Some places still refusing us use of a toilet, this must cease, we are not dogs and should not be treated like one. Would these places prefer we just pee in their yard or just squat in their driveway? We are told we must drink more and not let our throats dry out, we were being forced to eat just take-away and that can have effects other than just bad health overtime, yet we are being denied use of toilets.

If we act sensibly and people either have someone cleaning properly, or provide sanitary wipes or products for each user, then most will use them and act accordingly. If neither is done, then we will still have the problem of nothing available for others and or extending the life of the outbreak.

I did participate in the Truckies Hour program in the “Conversations” slot at 11AM on ABC Melbourne on Friday. It was good to have them recognise truckies, seek comment and along with Geoff Crouch from the ATA, the callers each raised valid points and I think we got a good story out. I then got a call from a driver I had met years earlier, who said he had been listening and who then thanked me for my efforts and said he agreed with all I had said.

The ABC also gave me some exposure from another story, done as a phone interview, which covers some of the same issues and ends with a call for more rest areas and facilities in the future.

On the other side of this, was the terrible behaviour of a couple of drivers who went berko when told they could not sit down for a meal. One roadhouse I spoke with, said they could not act till their management passed down the instruction and this is fair, considering the exemption was only announced the night before. Yes we are all a bit tense and frustrated, but taking it out on those who normally serve us well, when they too have bosses and regulations to comply with, will only see things get worse.

I stopped at the BP at Goondiwindi and they have a sign up saying they have employed a cleaner, you go in the shower, come out and give the key to the cleaner and they clean it for the next bloke. I asked the fellow at the console, had anyone said thank you and he said, no, I was the first and I didn’t even have a shower then.

In the piece on ABC Melbourne, both I and others did say we often feel unrecognised, but we have to be thankful to those who help us. It will not cost you more than a few seconds, no money and no pain, to say thank you when someone else helps and or provides good service and as you must all agree, that will normally be welcomed and then see that person likely to help you again in the future.

Perhaps we too have become complacent, but I fail to see why we cannot be human, respectful and polite. If you are treated badly, you will behave badly, or you can break the chain of bad behaviour, by being friendly, thankful of good service and being above the idiots. We can either be the professionals, the knights of the road, or we can be the idiots that all too often we are tarnished with being. I try, even as per my efforts here, will you try too, please?

I want to congratulate the ATA for “TRUCKSAFE” winning both the Corporate Fleet Safety and the founders award as overall winner in the 9th Annual Australian Road Safety Awards. It is industry owned and operated, I do think it has helped change some of the culture and whilst nothing is perfect, it is up to those involved and participating to do it right. Even if you only look at the need for driver medicals, that alone has possibly saved lives and improved the health of drivers, knowing too few of us will go to a doctor unless we are dying. The other parts of TRUCKSAFE and you can’t cherry pick and only do some bits and not others, all go some way to providing a good base system if you don’t have one of your own and can help you lift the bar and hopefully industry standards generally.

Another issue has been those who travel in their caravans with no home, doing the fruit picking and living the life on the road, may now have nowhere to go for the duration of this virus. It was highlighted late Friday on another ABC Melbourne program when a fellow rang in, saying he could not get an answer from anyone as to what he should do. The announcer Raph, did say he would try and get an answer and some rang in offering the fellow somewhere to stay. But there are many more and I have still seen many vans on the road, some perhaps still heading home if they have one. All I ask if they continue to roam, is to make sure they think of us if they have to stop in a rest area.

We have a long way to go to get through this, it will not be over in a month and some effects will last for years. Those involved in trucking, I know you will mostly do your best. Those on the outside, have you thought more of the truckies still working or has it not reached your thoughts yet? Please let me know what you think either way. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.