29th November 2020 Roads and rest areas again.

Goodaye all, another week on the road. I did get a call from a mate who rang and complained about a pothole under the Jerilderie camera. He was given not only an undertaking that it would be fixed, but that the person would contact the Safe-t-cam people and ask them not to issue any fines for those who tried to avoid the pothole and then ran foul of the camera. Had he not rang, many may have got camera fines, but it doesn’t always work that way. Let’s hope it went the way it should have. Well done Chris.

Another contact through a Facebook friend request, who complained about Victorian roads, when asked were they aware of the number and had they called, tells me they have and have had no action. This is why I am still asking for a national road standard, so we know what is deemed acceptable, we can contribute to that standard, not simply have car drivers think we are whinging and we can then hold the road authorities to account.

Then once we report a section of road, depending on the traffic volumes and when the next maintenance is due, it should be fixed within a specified time, dependant on how bad and the above factors. Serious failures and large potholes etc, should simply be left till next time the crew is out that way. A car could hit it and swerve into the path of a truck, a motorcyclist could be thrown well off the road from some of them and whilst you can look and should also be watching the road and driving to conditions, it is hard to see in the dark and round corners. Lives should not be at risk for any longer than is absolutely necessary, to get the problem fixed.

I read at one stage that truckies in the USA were aiming to charge the road authorities for damage caused to their trucks by some of their roads, but have not seen it get up and no surprise, imagine if it did and then maybe we could follow. We are required to be compliant, meet very high standards and be under intense scrutiny, yet I still think that we are not getting good value for the money spent on roads.

What good is it to have two or more people sit in cars at both ends of roadworks all day and tell trucks there is roadwork ahead? Yes, there have been idiots who have slammed into parked vehicles, but if their radio is down or off, then what will them being there change? Some of those do not even speak clearly enough to be understood and I have suggested that on the radio, both politely and with the aim to help, yet why are we paying them for this if they don’t care enough to even be understood. Surely there is a better and cheaper way to do it, instead of having people bored stupid sitting in a car all day calling us up. More money to pay people for little value.

Roads cost a lot, we must get good value, not simply supply large profits to million dollar companies to do a lousy job and then when it fails, pay again. Someone must be responsible for the work, the value and the life of the road, or we will simply continue to pay for something and get little value for it.

On a very positive note, I must congratulate the Tasmanian Trucking association of r getting actual, not implied, intended or promised, support for a Tasmanian Truck Rest Area Strategy, something I would very much like to see done nationally. There are obvious factors that have seen this get up, a lack of through traffic which swells truck numbers needing rest areas, a concerted effort by the association not only in pushing the case, but putting out a document few could realistically argue against and someone in government prepared to put their neck out and support it.

With many towns bypassed over the last few years as the highways were improved and then also more and more wire rope barriers taking away shoulders and spots that could be used, even if not the best or safest spots and of course then, not formally signed and or recognised by the authorities.

But they have agreement and a plan for some immediate and some longer term improvements and I would hope when all done, that at least one state will have enough suitable and sufficient truck rest areas for all those who need them. Their report which is 122 pages long, does say they were way behind and failed to meet all previous requirements for the number and spacing of truck rest areas and I hope this can be used as a guide on how to see things improved. Well done all involved. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.    

22nd November 2020 Roads!

Goodaye all. Am I the only one who has a problem with our roads and the way they are managed? We must all as I do, recognise we have a large country and a small population, we do not have the people to generate the taxes they do in the USA. We have wide open spaces so no state or district can be aware of every small road failure in all of their area and we cannot expect them to inspect thousands of kilometres of road each week.

With that as a start point, those who control the funding do little driving on our roads, their time is too valuable and they mostly fly. Those who distribute the funding you would hope, would have local knowledge, road building skill and understanding and common sense to ask and or learn if they do not have all the above. Biggest problem with common sense, is that it is not very common now.

Then why, from where I sit bouncing and banging along what is meant to be a National Highway, the Newell, which runs from Brisbane to Melbourne, having to travel on a road where some of the failures can have my wheels off the ground and or throw me around the cabin to the extent my seatbelt will allow, but that only limits the travel, not removes the impacts.

Yes we have generally better roads than we did in the past and yes, they are often wider, safer and carry much more traffic. Yes we have freeways and they deliver much of the city traffic to and from work. But our country depends on roads, not just for freight to and from everywhere to everywhere else, but so you can go visit Grandma and or have a holiday.

Trains do a good job moving bulk commodities and freight over long distances, Perth maybe and they tried to do Darwin and failed badly after spending millions of our dollars. I do believe that rail link should have been built during or immediately after the war, but what would I know. At one stage we had 28 different rail gauges in Australia, no wonder we don’t have as good a rail system as the USA. But no matter where the trains run, you need trucks at each end as no train a kilometre long will stop at the back of your supermarket, nor will it call into your farm to pick up your grain.

So for now, we need trucks. So if you want us to be able to deliver your freight at the cheapest cost, you have to have good roads, so our trucks can travel safely on them. My most recent question to all has been, why must trucks be road friendly, when roads are not truck friendly and why must we be fined for failures caused by the roads. We should be charging the road authorities for repairs, given the roads are meant to be safe, aren’t they?

I have been ringing road authorities for nearly 20 plus years making them aware of road failures. When I started, I was often told, we don’t get many truckies ring to tell us of these problems and so we often don’t know till our crews find them (and even that doesn’t always get things fixed either) but the truck I drive has the technology to graph and locate impacts into the truck, yet the road authorities will not recognise the data. Yes they may be scared it will mean they will have to accept the road has a problem and then find the money to fix it.

I do not ring about a divet the size of my palm, I ring when there is a failure, either badly built, badly repaired or simply, it has failed and I tell them for my safety, for your safety, so they know and can act accordingly to fix it in a timely manner and so that some poor bugger doesn’t come along and not being aware, hits the hole or irregularity and then goes under the front of another car or unsuspecting truckie who only went to work that day to feed his family and who will then invariably be dragged through court, even though the crash was not their fault and possibly have their lives and that of their families destroyed while it is all sorted out.

If lucky it will happen quickly when someone realises it was not the truckies fault, but at worst, it will drag on for months and destroy them and one day, they will be proved not guilty, but it will be too late for them then. This is a worse case, but I have been asking for over 5 years to get one section of road repaired and still it is not done. It is not the only issue, far from it, even the promoted new Dubbo bridge, which the community, the council and many others see as a half arsed cheap non solution to Dubbo’s current and future transport needs, is yet another issue where those who build and pay for it, from my point of view, simply won’t firstly properly consult those who will use it, nor will they listen to them when they disagree. How do you fix any of this? I would welcome your thoughts. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

15th November 2020

Goodaye all. After my last post I loaded Monday, rang TMR re the missing bins at the truckstop opposite the Caltex in Rocky, asked them about getting someone to contact me re the possibility of some additional informal green reflector truck bays and am still waiting for a reply. I stopped in at Narrabri and spoke with the local paper about additional truck parking and whilst the council has slightly moved the offending sign that was hitting trucks trying to use the small northbound bay, it is still over the gutter.

They have also rejected my request for consideration of reopening the area beside McDonalds and say that Woolies will have to be consulted for any change in front of their store, so I have failed to get their initial support, but maybe the paper can help.

It has been a big couple of weeks and then I did an airbag and got held up getting home Saturday, and have a lot to catch up on, so will call this a day and hope to entertain you with more of my life on the road next week. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

8th November 2020 Five states in six days.

Goodaye all. I have just had dinner with my brother-in-law and his lovely family in Rockhampton. I loaded Sunday, into Melbourne Monday, got out at 9PM Monday night, so some long nights to then get into Brisbane for AM Wednesday, a couple of pick-ups and out to Moree that night. Unload in the morning, do some shopping at Narrabri, then onto Newcastle.

Loaded Friday morning and off to a mine north of Emerald, yes open there 24/7, rang and gave them a time and then the next drop sorted, both done without too much fuss and back to Duaringa for fuel and tea, then into Rocky for a 35 hour break.

I did stop in Narrabri again now northbound, to get a new logbook, on the last page and had a chat with a fellow there who suggested we needed a trucks only bay in front of Service NSW for exactly the reason I stopped there. I told him I had already rang the council about increasing marked truck parking and had then followed up as requested with an email. I now have to add the bit there, but did get a phone call back from council after I chased them when shopping, hoping to get to someone and confirm if the issue had been discussed at council yet.

I was told the original lady was now on maternity leave and the next in line was away till Monday, so we agreed they would ring me on their return. I had also walked over and checked out the parking beside McDonalds which I had a hand in getting opened up to trucks years ago. It now has a better surface and when it was closed some years ago and I rang and asked why, had been told it was due to complaints about dust and rubbish. At the time I did comment, then surely it would have been wise to put some bins there? It seems now I have been told of a truck tyre that caught alight, but am yet to confirm. However, I did get a call from Narrabri Council saying the sign beside the northbound Truck Only Bay had been moved away from the road. It was too close and had been hit already by those trying to be well clear of traffic. So a small win, but a start.

The Woolies at Narrabri is one of only two or three supermarkets I can easily access between Melbourne and Brisbane. With harvest on now, it is even more valuable to all the drivers living and working in their trucks locally helping with the enormous amounts of grain currently being transported to silos. Yes there are some truckstops that they will use, but to buy and eat there all the time is an expensive exercise, so they need supplies and many probably cook there own while in the ques at night, as not all work 24/7. The truckies must be putting not only hundreds of thousands of dollars into the Narrrabri economy, but they are also providing jobs for the towns people.

We just need a bit more signed parking to make it a bit easier and I don’t think that is too much to ask. I will keep you informed.

I had parked up with a truck beside me and there was a bit of a breeze, but when I could not sleep and got up to move back a bit so I could turn on the Icepack, there was someone behind me, so I suffered the heat and finally got some sleep. Up and some exercise, then a walk to Bunnings to try and fix a small problem, no good, but ah well, clean out the toolbox, the bunk area, the storage box and catch up on paperwork, then off for a cuppa and tea. It will be into bed early tonight to load for Melbourne in the morning.

I had an email from a driver about a new BP at Tullamarine, have passed that onto BP, another about the Wyong servos and a refusal to allow us to use the toilets, so will have to follow that up and am out of audio books, so will have to transfer some from the laptop to a thumb drive to get me home again next week-end.

Many of you may recall the video interview Whiteline Television did with “Mr Positive, Chris Harmer”. Chris has had a remarkable recovery, but is still unable to drive and we went back for an update. The power of faith from being told he had 12 to 18 months to live and now being cancer free is a terrific recovery, but he has a long way to go. You can see the video at www.truckingnation.com.au Till next time, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

1st November 2020

Goodaye all. Home for my 25 hour visit with the family for this week-end. I did get one night home during the week, a rare change and it worked well as I was not needed that night and had some media to do for our “Stop the River Street Bridge” campaign the next day. I did check out the site as it was raining that afternoon and am keen, but wasn’t going to spend four hours in the rain washing the truck, with the forecast for more rain. I could not stand without slipping that afternoon, yet nearing midday the next day, checked out the site and drove in and parked along with a couple of local prime movers for the handover ceremony.

I did a radio interview in the morning, loaded and then took part with a number of Dubbo stakeholders, from the convenor of the group, the mayor, small business reps and other transport entities at the handover of about 11,000 signatures to see Dubbo try to get a decent and long term traffic solution, instead of a half arsed cheap patch, that will not solve anything now or later. Did a tv interview, then bolted to Melbourne.

I had been to Brisbane Monday and after loading headed north. Less than half an hour out of Dubbo, a siren behind and a random license and logbook check. The gentleman was not exactly friendly, found an error but did not accept my reasoning and said I will get a ticket in the mail. I explained I did not go to work to break the law, we were talking about 15 minutes (or less the way we have to fill in the book), but it was an error and he thinks I should pay. I was cranky with myself and yes, I did make a mistake, but it will show I was legal and I can back it up, so we will see what the review process thinks of it when I fight it.

If I was an hour out, then that is not an error, but there was info in my book, that had I been given the chance to look at it properly and think on it for more than a second, I could have shown it was a mistake, not a breaking of the law or attempt to deceive. Forgive me if I might agree with those who often make the comment, this is about either revenue raising, or putting me in my place. We will see.

I spoke of UFOs on the “Nightshift” radio spot, unidentified farming objects, bright lights out in the middle of dark paddocks and many of them are trying to beat and or deal with the rain, to get crops off. I wish them all success, as what we grow for food and export, contributes to all our libves, in one or more ways.

The other issue was the change in the USA of the differences in many truckstops there. Mandatory Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs which we call Electronic Work Diarys here) started a change where fewer drivers have time for sit down meals and as here, when Covid struck, many US truckstops were initially closed, but then reopened when it was recognised nothing would get delivered without trucks on the road. Many stayed closed for sit down meals and there is a trend for more grabbing something to eat in the truck.

That sounds more like a recipe for less healthy, more overweight and more stressed truckies everywhere. Is this what we want as drivers and what we all need for safe and reliable road transport. Looks like it is going in the wrong direction to me. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.