31st June 2020. Two weeks away.

Goodaye all. Having gone to Corowa Sunday afternoon two weeks ago tomorrow, unloaded Monday morning by driving across the road and backing the b-double in, then loaded out of Melbourne. Got the truck washed at King of the Road, thanks gents job well done, then via Dubbo for a service and through to Mungindi late Tuesday night, did my spot on Nighshift then to bed.

Unloading Wednesday morning, it rained as I unloaded, terrific, told to stay off the dirt in the rain, so a slightly longer trip into Brisbane, loaded for Bellata, just there in time that night for logbook, but much more rain, then loading out of Tamworth Thursday for Newcastle said, “Whats’ next”, told maybe a load for Melbourne, mmm not what I had planned. Said, well you better get it organised so I can load tonight with much tongue in cheek. Never heard anymore, unloaded late Thursday night, then to Beresfield for a shower and some cheap left-over chips and to bed.

Thought, if I had not heard from anyone by 8 would ring. Rang at 8 Friday morning and asked, “Whats’ going on?”. “Well, I’m sitting here waiting for someone to tell me whats’ going on”. Ah, well we are waiting for an answer on another truck, but if its’ not ready, you will be loading for Mackay. A bit later called and told, Mackay it is.

Had an incident late Saturday night, vehicle approaching did not dip their lights when I did at about 2k, I then put them back up around 1k, no dip, no flash, then around 500m I flashed a few times as there had been no flash back to say “this is low” or such and I was getting worried they may be asleep, then I left mine on low thinking, OK don’t want to blind them as they pass. But what happened was I got a bottle into the windscreen.

Luckily it was only plastic, though it still had water in it and was doing 200k when it hit. I had a small star in the screen and it spread it across my side. Having passed the Police at the border at Mungindi, I rang Triple 0. I lodged a complaint and it was the NSW copper who I spoke with and then rang me back when they stopped the bloke at the border. He said it happened in Qld, he had passed the details on and I would hear from Qld Police next week. The driver admitted throwing the bottle, said he was sorry, but was not really contrite according to the copper.

Qld Police did follow up, said it is a serious offence, the throwing, even if only a plastic bottle. I have spoken with Pilons and they have agreed to use it as a safety discussion and I have spoken of it on Nightshift last week. The other vehicle was a RAM ute with a large tri axle horse float on the back, so it may have been the load and or the float that lifted the lights and from another I have seen, they have those eyeball lights, which once up a bit, are very bright. I have them in the low beam, but trucks have self levelling lights where Ram utes don’t. The other driver said he had flashed me back to the NSW copper, but told the QLD one he had not flashed me. My understanding is that you can’t fit these bright white blinding headlights unless you have self levelling suspension and I am sure many of you have been blinded by those who have either bought them aftermarket and or load up the back of the ute and blind all in their path all night. We must find a solution to this.

Got to north of St George (back through Mungindi again) to bed and made it to Mackay late Saturday night. 37 hours till I could unload, truck filthy, so walked up to Bunnings and got insect screen and paint. It did not dry and hope to fit tomorrow morn. Walked down to Woolies for supplies and back to reading.
I started the Rangers Apprentice series and have finished it, mostly on audio books, but thanks to another driver, now have the books of the Brotherband series to carry on with and finished the first, caught up on paperwork etc.
Unload Monday morning, gave a copy of Owner Driver in exchange for a cuppa, thanks. Down to Gympie, (a GPS fail I will have to send another email about now) to load the next morning for Melbourne. Many many straps, chains, many tightenings, thanks to the next driver for a hand to finish off, and away to Melbourne. Some new tyres in Dubbo on the way through, tea at the Tiger Moth Inn in Temora and into Tullamarine for early morning. Lots of straps and chains to get off, then loaded back out of there Thursday, quite a saga.

Stopped at gate, what are you here for, load to Brisbane. OK, wait here will be door one or two, back soon. He came back and asked, OK can you back into door two? Turn it round so you can head back out the gate to back into the door, a bit offset, got in, you did that well, thanks. I had said at the gate, it is a mezz floor load, was then asked are your floors down, yes, then that will be fine. Mmmmm, ok then.

Same bloke, you work for them, Rod Pilon Transport on the door, yes, OK. I asked again about the mezz floor load and the name of the customer, and mate says, Oh sorry, they are next door, good practice for you. Thanks, walk next door, even tighter to turn around so I can load and said, “Hello to empty warehouse” “Yes?” “I’m here for a mezz floor load for Brisbane. “No, that’s for tomorrow”. Not on my paperwork. I ‘ll make a call. Yes, since you are here, we will load you now.
What about the mezz floors? No boss away so we can’t move them and we can double stack the pallets. I got the load as I was the only truck with mezz floors! 68 pallets, to the yard for fuel and a shower, and back for another truckwash.

Sorry it’s so dirty, well that’s what you come her for isn’t it. True, thanks and another top wash done. Up the road, to bed and back into Dubbo where I fitted some new mudflaps and hair on my skirts (this will make some of you think a bit, but if you look at a photo of the truck, you might understand, otherwise I will explain next week). So lots to catch up with.

I did ring TMR Qld and put in a complaint about the bridge before Grateful Ponds Creek and about three lots of unmanned yet still signposted roadworks and still have to follow that up. I also put in a complaint to RMS, now my third on this and will be another email now, about a dropped culvert 20k south of Forbes on the Newell. It is a failure and yet still untouched. (Email done).

I am now taking part in our monthly NRFA Board meeting and have to finish all the rest before leaving for Brisbane. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.


17th May 2020 NHVR Owner Driver Mtg

Goodaye all. Thanks to the ABC for the Landline story last week, it was a positive story for us, one of few we get unfortunately. Thanks to the others who took part in the show, drivers and roadhouse staff as well as Senator Glen Sterle. If you agree, you can like and share from my Facebook page.

Thursday I did a trip to Sydney as a single for a change, stopping on the way home Friday , first at Mt White for a chat, gave them a copy of Owner Driver, then to do a prerecord for ABC Wagga following the Landline piece and stopped again, (I only had to be home to unload Saturday) to take part in the first NHVR Stakeholder Engagement Zoom meeting for Owner Drivers. I was invited, though of course, not an owner driver but I have a long history with NHVR and like all things, you can sit and whinge, or you can do your best to take part and get the best outcome and they generally give me at the very least, a good listen.

There are those who are very critical of the NHVR and I recognise that no one can be all things to all people and even those at NHVR will agree, that some of the things they have done have not worked as perfectly as we all would like. But I do commend them for starting this idea of direct contact with those on the road. Yes, it did tell us what they have done and then asked what issues we are having on the road.

No one had any specific issues with crossing borders, though the new SA requirements were discussed and two of the female drivers raised the issue of their privacy, let alone their safety (my addition) in having to give out addresses and phone numbers to any who they spend time with. It was suggested by one, what if an old fellow goes to a checkout and spending time in the que, then says to the young lady check out chick, you have to give me your phone number and address? His time explaining to the Police will then give him a need for more names and addresses!!!!!!!!!

One issue raised was the visiting of roadhouses, specifically in Melbourne, by NHVR Officers and also Police at times. I did follow up and have asked why they need to prowl servos and that we can and do, see it as harassment. Have any of you had issues being woken by any enforcement officer recently? It is illegal for them to do so, (unless you are parked illegally and they have to move you on for your own and others safety and this is another topic) and if it happens, you should ask for their name and then report them to their superiors.

Many complaints were raised about local drivers taking over parking, but the NHVR has no authority and it is a problem in many places and many ways and something our associations should be tackling at a state and national level. They are far more likely to have access to major chain CEOs than any of us and it is something they have done little about from where I sit. I would welcome them proving me wrong.

I said in the meeting and have tweeted since, drivers need more knowledge on what the NHVR can and cannot do, to focus on what they can do, but I have been pushing for some years toward the future and hope they will have more influence in some of these areas, specifically rest areas.

Without sounding like a broken record, we must have a National Road Standard and repair standard for the roads which are our workplace which the government still refuse to recognise and we must have a National Rest Area Strategy. We cannot simply get one here and one there and have the government say, now manage your fatigue. They all have access to toilets and five star accommodation, we don’t want or need five star, but we need suitable and sufficient places for us to manage our fatigue and we don’t have enough yet.

Once this virus is sorted, I will be seeking some passengers in the TIV for a trip and Senator Glen Sterle will be the first and I hope will be followed by others. The previous CEO and Commissioner of the NTC, Paul Retter AM did a trip with me and said it was very worthwhile. All who do a trip are asked to respond to a questionnaire after the trip and this is Paul’s reply.

Thanks for the opportunity to discuss a range of issues while travelling with you last Friday. I found the experience to be both practical and informative.
In your handout for Truck Right Riders you ask a series of questions. I have attempted to answer them and the various issues we discussed on the road below:

• Name, date, trip completed – Paul Retter (CEO NTC) , 30 May 14, Melbourne to Dubbo (8.00am to 7.45pm)
• Have you ever ridden in a large truck before? – yes, in my career as an Army officer I had the opportunity to travel in large trucks on a number of occasions, however the ride in the Truckright Industry Vehicle (TIV) on 30 May 2014 was my first ride in a commercial heavy vehicle (a B Double) since I left the military in 2006.
• What were your first impressions of the ride of the vehicle? – I was surprised at the effects of the road condition on the ride in the vehicle and the way in which cracks, dips or pot holes in the road surface are transferred into the cabin of the prime mover.
• Were you previously aware of the technology in or the cost of large trucks? I was aware of the various sorts of technology available for heavy vehicles and the capital outlay and operating costs associated with owning and operating a heavy vehicle. Many of these technologies in the TIV cab play a key role in improving both safety and productivity outcomes for the heavy vehicle driver and fleet operators. I would encourage heavy vehicle operators to consider the installation of in-vehicle technology from both a commercial and safety perspective. See the attached handout.
• Has the trip changed your perceptions of trucks on the road and if so, how? I would not say that my trip last Friday has changed my overall perceptions of trucks, what it has done is reinforce the need for Governments. Road agencies, NHVR, NTC and the trucking/logistics industry to discuss how we optimise our road networks in terms of desired service levels (road condition) including rest areas locations, their capacity and design standards. It has also reinforced the need for a more comprehensive road safety initiative related to increased training and awareness of the characteristics of heavy vehicles and the need to share the road with all road users. Your Truckies Top Ten Tips are a great start point.
• Would you like to make a comment towards the intent of the TIV or suggestions for other riders or events? I suggest other NTC staff may benefit from a ride with you and will discuss this further with you and staff in NTC. I think the TIV is a great initiative however to optimise its impact the vehicle needs to be visiting more locations more often – your idea of having 2 weeks a month to focus on TIV related activities will only be achieved if such a move is seen as cost effective by industry and governments. I think you need to look carefully at a cost benefit analysis of what you are proposing in terms of the road safety and heavy vehicle better awareness related benefits.
• Would you please give your overall comments on your trip in the TIV that can be used for any publicity reports? I am a fan of the TIV and would encourage its use as a mechanisms to further improve road safety outcomes in Australia by improving awareness of heavy vehicle characteristics and reinforcing the need for all users of the road to be both tolerant of and take extra care when sharing the road with heavy vehicles. Your Truckies Top Ten Tips are a great start point and should be publicised more widely.
• Other Matters? Your comments on the need for better operating systems at distribution centres and awareness of the impacts of loading/unloading delays on drivers is acknowledged. WE need to do more in educating non drivers within the supply chain on these matters as part of any future enhancements to Chain of Responsibility legislation and guidance material. Regards

Paul was a fan of the TIV and my efforts with it and I can only hope to get others to see and understand and then act for us, as until then, few understand our issues and unfortunately, even less care. Everybody just wants their stuff and they want it now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have never had a negative reply or comment from the many who have done trips with me, but as an employed driver, it is not up to me where and when the truck works and I must do my part for the company I work for and do my best to try and fit the other stuff in too. Rod Pilon Transport have been very supportive for many years, but unless you have a committed run, it can be challenging to set up a trip with someone else who has serious time constraints.

A previous rider from the NTC rang me and said, “I will do a trip with you from Melbourne to Albury”. I said “Sorry, travelling only up the Hume will not give you any idea of life on the road and unless you come through to Dubbo, there will be no trip.” He was of course a bit taken aback by this, but then committed to the trip in his own time, but the NTC did pay him for it.

I was then approached by a member of the NRFA at the Melbourne Truckshow, him saying, “Well done.” “What did I do?” I asked. That fellow from the NTC had been at a previous industry meeting and was another bureaucrat, but at the next meeting he had attended, he spoke of doing the trip and did a 180 degree turn around in his views. I later rang the NTC gentleman in question and spoke of the comment. He thought about it and said he had not been aware of the change, but on reflection both agreed and gave me permission to write about it at the time.

If you can help change things for the better in the road transport industry and will make the effort, contact me for a trip, but you will be held to account. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.


10th May 2020 Happy Mothers Day.

Goodaye all. HAPPY MOTHERS DAY TO THOSE SPECIAL WOMEN WHO LOOK AFTER US FROM BIRTH TO DEATH. Some do all the way, some for many years and sadly, some for but a few, but without them carrying us into this life, we would not be here.

Very short this week, late start, four legs, home yesterday and off this afternoon following my 24 hour required break. I am missing chatting with my mate Chris Harmer on the road, I hope many of you saw his story, “Mr Positive” filmed by Whiteline Television and if not, have a look at I have known Chris for a long time and he used to ring me when on the road, so we often spoke two or three times a week. Sometimes a quick catch up, other times for hours. He is fighting on with his health battle and I wish him and his family all the help and prayers to achieve a win, but I miss hearing from him.

I got a message from a driver who said he saw me on ABC TV in the Philippines yesterday and I am told the pieces filmed about life on the road during the virus will be on ABC Landline at 12.30 today.

There have been many comments that our moment in the sun for the recognition of the job will do, will be instantly forgotten when all this ends and people will again simply expect everything to be available when they want it. I have tried for many years to show a positive side to our industry and yet of course, when things like the crashes in Melbourne and others happen, we go backwards.

Then of course there are those amongst us, who it seems don’t think about what they do and how they are seen by their actions on the road and elsewhere, for example in social media. All the good work of the few is too often overwhelmed and or overshadowed, by the thoughtless and or occasionally stupid actions, of the other few.

Such is life, get over it, grow up etc, you may say. All common suggestions, but we can try and improve things, we can sit back and watch and let others try, or we can make an effort. If the Mothers of this world can do such marvellous things as give birth to us all, then surely they deserve to have us make an effort to make things better as much as we can. The next time you want to do what you know to be the wrong thing, think about another saying, “Would your Mother be proud of what you are doing?” and if that doesn’t make you think, then I don’t know what will. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.


4th May 2020 A week-end off ???

Goodaye all, got home Friday with a plan to have work started on the truck, some suspension, cab and engine bushes found during service last week need replacing and hoped to get a start then, but other trucks got in first, so did some curtain strap replacements, searched and found and cleaned a mudflap to replace a missing one, found a mudflap bracket and messed around before home.

Having a problem with downloaded audio books, so rang the library on the way home and have a plan to try and sort that, then made a plan to have a week-end off, sort of. Wrote a piece for two truckstop sites, photos and commented on good showers and meals at Fisher Park, (highly recommend rissoles and gravy and salad and chips) then other sites with clean showers etc, did emails, answered friend requests, many mentioning spot on Nightshift, sent videos (with help from youngest son) to ABC, completed a draft for my AFM application, did audiobooks for the road piece, wrote a draft for NRFA on getting roads and rest areas fixed in the future, responded to Vicroads, sent a list to Kenworth for improvements, then spent near two hours on the phone this morning for a NRFA board meeting, did shopping for work, so did not touch truck, but sort off time off driving at least and now have plan for truck to be finished Tuesday, then back to work. Probably missed some other advocacy bits in there somewhere. Glad I had a break from it all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Then following board meeting read a long piece on driver health and issues etc. The most dangerous industry in Australia, 13 times more likely to be killed and injured, highest rate of suicide, at risk of many chronic health conditions due to the factors involved in the job, it just goes on and on with the bad news.
On the good side and in an attempt to improve things, my friend and colleague, Mr Stephen McCarthy from Whiteline Television, released the first three in a series of videos, “Road Life” relating to improving driver health and they got good comments and I hope they are well received and help some of us with some of the issues we all face. There are more to come and I would welcome your views and you sharing them with others.

Monday, list completed for truck and trailers, delivered truck and wait for news. Hoping to get much of it done, news I will be loading in the morning, maybe back to the yard for some more little bits. I have greaseless turntables and so if I have to use another truck, it can take me an hour to clean the skidplate from underneath with diesel, so don’t do it unless absolutely necessary. Had a brake fault light come up on the way home Friday, a subsystem issue, not the actual brakes and got a call late this afternoon saying they have found the problem, a loose plug for the EBS, so hopefully all sorted now.

Tried to sort a problem with downloaded books on my USB drive, got frustrated and don’t think I have sorted it yet, but we will keep on trying. Off to Melbourne tomorrow, hopefully into town late enough to do my spot on Nightshift with Luke and then to bed. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.