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.