30th August 2020 Back to the Beginning and on the inside.

Goodaye all. The writing will be short this week as I have a video of the inside of the TIV K200 for you. This is of course where I live, eat and sleep for up to 6 days a week and it has been home for the last 9 years. I picked it up from the Kenworth plant at Bayswater after my plant tour, drove it just a few kilometres round to the radio place where GME fitted two UHF radios, the car stereo and all the required aerials.

The only early k’s I did not do in the truck was for its trip to Shepparton to have the Active Cruise control set up, then it was returned out to Herd Bullbars, no longer operating unfortunately, they supplied the bar, the first they had made for the new K200 and as far as a I am aware, one of the very first where the inner uprights were angled out to better reflect the new wider at the top grille, used in the K200. They added all the brackets for the extra lights and told me I could not have the TIV in lights at the front. I said “Why Not?” and of course they just said it couldn’t be done, but it was and has been there ever since.

Central Tyre Inflation Australia came out and fitted the CTI on the drive at Herd and I picked it up from there, dropped the tyre pressures on the drive to 50 psi, as there was not even a turntable on it yet and drove it to Caloundra for Signwriters to do their magic and even now, it still looks nearly as good as it did then. There are more who contributed, but that will do for a start. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

23rd August 2020 Short and Sweet.

Goodaye all. Short and sweet this week, started Monday and off to Melbourne, back there again in an hour or so. I have just seen a couple of videos from the Supercar teams and it must be a fantastic job to have. They have all been in isolation and are now on their way to Darwin for some races up there. Good luck to them with their trip. We really need some real people and stories to show what it is like on the road, fulltime, otherwise no one will ever know or understand our jobs.

We need the road recognised as our workplace, then those who share it with us will have to be trained to do so. The roads then will have to not only be built for the role they hope to fill, they will have to meet and continue to meet, certain standards over their life. Not once they are built and then fail, be badly patched and cause further damage to trucks, drivers, loads and roads.

In the USA the truckers tried to bill the states for damage to their trucks from the roads. If we could do that here, we would have better roads, safer trucks and less lives lost.

Once roads become our recognised workplace, they will need to have suitable and sufficient rest areas for the number and type of vehicles using that road, to allow and encourage us to safely manage our fatigue, to comply with the onerous and inflexible laws and penalties thrown at us from above by those with hot and cold everything within their reach.

And when I win the Lotto, I will keep trying to make all the above happen. Till then, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

16th August 2020 DG Renewal.

Goodaye all. Well I have just finished my Dangerous Goods License renewal course here in Dubbo. The educator Col, says we were lucky to be able to hold the course at the Cattleman’s Hotel, as there was nowhere else in Dubbo with the capacity for the number attending and being able to comply with current Covid requirements. He has had a very quiet time, as many who conduct such in person training to complete courses, due to the restrictions being in place.

He commented that it may be in the future that to be able to complete such courses, you may well have to go to a capital city, as with all the current problems, those doing such courses are not able to keep up with a growing backlog, but the ability to conduct such courses needing in person training and the lack of sites that can be used, are simply another problem.

In the USA, there have been extensions granted for those in such a position, needing license renewals etc, but I have not seen much of it here. It is simply up to us to get it sorted. Have you had any such issues?

The complexity with carrying Dangerous Goods and above that again with Bulk DG, far more so with normal general transport as opposed to bulk fuel haulage for example, along with the myriad of potential fines if you do not get it right, then with increased education of many Highway Patrol officers, mean you must be more and more vigilant and on top of the requirements to comply.

The training does not just apply to the driver, those who consign, load and deliver, as well as those who control each of the staff involved in all of those tasks mentioned, can be held liable and fined in the law if not complied with fully. Those not carrying the goods may well not need a DG License, but without any training, if the load is involved in a crash and or the load is simply inspected and does not comply, they too can and will be prosecuted.

In a terribly funny way, our Chain of Responsibility Legislation is designed to do just what the DG laws do well in a way, to extend the responsibility up the chain so it is not just the driver who is held responsible. The downside, again in a strange way, means not only does the driver have to be even more knowledgeable and accurate with his compliance and information and will still get fined if he screws up, but it is far more likely that those above who were also complicit, will be fined as well.

You will be sick of me complaining about delays at Albury and these do pale against others elsewhere, but it is so simple to me how to fix the problem, but nothing has changed. I did email deputy PM Michael McCormack, as he is local to the Wagga Wagga district and hoped he might be able to help, but no reply as yet. We will simply keep trying. Till next week, Safe Travelling to all. Rod Hannifey.

9th August 2020. What a couple of days, plus a video for the public.

Goodaye all. Thursday and Friday may well turn out to be at the top of the, lousy days at work, up to this time. In Brisbane Thursday, a fun place to deliver at the start of the day, double split and so drop one trailer, go and deliver it, go back to the safe place to drop trailers, drop that trailer, pick up the other, go back with it and again, back in off a road with cars parked either side, then down a driveway and then have to unload one side at a time, as it was too narrow to unload either side in one place. A lovely, but my age, so bloody old gent, that was not in any rush to unload me. I was asked by the younger fellow, why aren’t you in a hurry? Most of your blokes are often saying they will run out of hours.

I had time then, but did have someone coming to meet me to look at something on the truck and did have to put him back a bit. Worse, what I hoped would solve a problem and give me back my cruise control, did not work, so still to be resolved, along with not being able to do a burn. But thanks for your effort in trying to solve the problem, it is much appreciated.

Then nearly 6 hours in total, (the fellow loading when I got there at 1.40PM had been there since 10.30 in the morning and had just started loading) so waiting, then loading and painfully watching a young bloke learn on a forklift, then after finally being loaded and now dark, have to move up and climb up and down a tall ladder 20 odd times to strap the whole load down in the dark. No lights there on one side and trying to throw straps through a very small gap while on said ladder.

We must do it all safely mustn’t we and I did lodge a concern with both the lack of light and the adjacent light, which did not light where I was working, but kept going on and off, so one minute I could see something and then nothing. Winter is still upon us in places, yet I was wet with sweat when finished. I had rang and said I will not meet the timeslot in the morning after just starting to load at 4PM. I will see what happens and of course, when I finally left after 7PM, everyone else was long gone home.

Just managed to get tea at Fisher Park, they were getting ready to close, but I rang ahead and got in scoffed tea down, though they told me don’t rush, but they were good enough to look after me, I did not want to delay them anymore. It did mean I was too late for a shower and could not really give up any more time, I was hungry so was getting a feed no matter what, but wanted to try and meet my new given arrival time.

Of course on arrival and later than I had suggested and having been told I had to reload with a product that is not very friendly to tautliner curtains, just a bit worse than what I had on already, so already not really in a “Oh I love this job”, frame of mind, it started to rain. It started each time I had to unload or reload (oh and can I mention another double split to unload etc spot) and stopped while waiting, so I got good and wet a few times. Then there was an issue that I am yet to find out what the ramifications will be, partly my fault and partly a combination of others and of unusual circumstances.

But I made it home Friday night, for it to rain again as I dropped my trailers. Now there are blokes with harder jobs, worse freight and in these times, suffering trying to deal with border issues, not being treated human as per some Facebook posts I have seen and I am normally pretty passionate about my job generally and the industry as well. I love what I do most of the time, but nothing is always or forever perfect.

To those worse off and you only have to listen to those suffering in Victoria, whether affected by the shutdown, the virus, or the other essential workers dealing with those so affected, I am not the worst off by a long shot. But to those of you who have said they had no idea what our job is like, I simply want you to understand it is not just get in the truck, drive and then get out and then get in and drive again.

I want some of the public to understand not this complexity, nor see me as a whinging truckie, so will attach a video hoping to help them see and recognise our contribution. If you agree (and you will have to accept some wind noise, it was getting dark and cold and my daughter “Thank you love” had better and warmer things to do) please comment and or share. I really think we have lost a chance to show the public our lives and perhaps gain some empathy for our jobs, others could do this much better and more professionally than I can, but have not, so I felt I had to at least, give it a try. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

2nd August 2020 It is up to you.

Goodaye all. It is two days off my 63rd birthday and I am going to ask you all for a present. This will not cost you any money, it will not come to me or change my life in any way, but if you are a truck driver or involved in the road transport industry, it may change yours, hopefully for the better, sometime in the future. I want you to do two things for me for my birthday. I will even give you a choice.

You can watch or listen to all the submissions to the current Senate Inquiry into a Safe and Viable Road Transport Industry, or you can read the RIS for the again current, review of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL). Once you have done either (but by all means do both), then you have another choice.

If you agree with a particular point or suggestion and think it will make the roads safer and your job easier (please note which I have put first) then make a submission yourself to support and or even expand on why. If you don’t agree, or think you have a better solution, then do something about it, NOW!!!!!

When I was on my Churchill Fellowship trip and in the USA, the FMCSA there was seeking submissions towards changing their Hours of Service (HOS). I made a submission and whilst it may not have changed the course or been the most relevant, I did contribute to something that can affect other truckies.

The following is from an online piece, Overdrive Extra, 31st July, “FMCSA is Listening, Share your views and make a difference” by Gary Buchs.

The regulatory process inevitably angers some individuals. But getting mad only serves to divide people who could work together and seek solutions for problems.

Predictably, as soon as the new hours of service changes were announced, the loudest voices came from people complaining before they have even had a chance to utilize the new adjustments that will take effect Sept. 29.

These new rules were developed after FMCSA invited input over many months, drawing approximately 2,800 submitted comments. That’s no small number, yet millions of CDL holders and transportation stakeholders could have responded. But they ignored not only the opportunity, but arguably a business responsibility.

Accept that you, the silent majority, can get involved, and this safety summit is a perfect opportunity. It will be held in a virtual setting 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern time. FMCSA said there will be a “brief public comment period in the mid to late afternoon.” You can register for that open forum, as well as other sessions, here.

This is a chance to increase the number of people commenting from 2,800. Can you imagine what the effect could be if even 1% of the 3.9 million CDL holders — 39,000 people — spoke up?

We are not all going to agree on every detail, but improvements are needed and possible.

Does any of this read familiar to you? How many times have you sat in a roadhouse and heard blokes whinge and whine about what is wrong with the industry and what should be done to fix it? How many of those blokes either don’t know of this chance to have a say or who will simply not bother. For my birthday present, I want you to contribute and I want you to tell others to do so as well. If you want to buy me a new Kenworth as well, I won’t stop you, but we have a chance, it may not be the only one ever, but it may be the best we will have for sometime.

Some people finally are recognising that WE NEED TRUCKS so they can eat, live and work, that we do not all drive round all day empty, because we have nothing better to do with our time. Suddenly they are aware that without trucks they will have no food, no clothes, no fuel or parts for their car etc and we must do something to capitalise on this, because after all this is over one day we hope, we will be forgotten again.

We are perceived to be all as bad as the one bloke who does the wrong thing, whether that is tailgating or abusing a car or caravanner, or if they kill someone in a crash because they were a bad driver and none of us are perfect, but most of us go to work to finish another trip safely and to get home to a family we see too little of. This side is never considered nor recognised by far too many of those we try and share the road with to deliver their stuff for them.

Now I recognise not all of you have the time or the inclination to sit at home watching hours of video of people talking and most would have better things to do I am sure. Having found a way to convert the video to audio and then put on thumbdrive and listen in the truck, I have spoken with Steve Corcoran and suggested he do the work for you and make all the videos available as audio so more likely more of you can access and listen. He was hoping to do so ASAP.

I’m sorry I cannot condense and make it easier for you all to read the RIS for the HVNL, but all who have done the reading of hundreds of pages and then responded in kind with hundreds more, have done much of the work for you and you can now read and respond to the condensed version, so from where I sit, no excuse to do nothing.

I have contributed to the HVNL, 7 written submissions, attended one meeting in Brisbane and with both written and attending Albury for the Senate inquiry. I had to leave after my submission as I was on my way to Melbourne to deliver that day and last week-end spent sometime downloading many of the submissions and converting them to MP3 so I could listen in the truck during the week. I could not justify spending hours listening at home, so instead of audio books this week, I listened to many and have now found the others and added them so I can listen to the balance this week.

Should you read or listen to any of my submissions, you will hear me ask for both a National Road Standard and a National Rest Area Strategy and so you know I am not asking you to do something while I sit back and dream of the next TIV, I am working on both of those documents and plan to submit them next month to both, as well as anyone who I can pester with them.

So you can completely ignore this and me, or you can do something for yourself and other drivers. IT IS UP TO YOU! Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.