Goodaye all, you might well accuse me of cheating, in attaching the submission below, but just to show I have not been sitting and degenerating while watching daytime tv, this will attempt to show I have kept busy. I have continued ringing NRFA members and am now into non-financial members, trying to convince them to re-join, so another hundred phone calls this week and I was made aware of a NSW Centre for Road Safety meeting on Wednesday evening, so attended and had a chance to raise some issues.
There was another NRFA member there and others of the possibly 50 or so, also raised some of the same and similar issues we all want addressed as drivers. I have done the post meeting survey so I got another hit there and as you will see below, have just finished four pages and about 2,300 words, just to have another say and the submissions close to this on the 29th April, so if you want to have a say, there is still a chance for you.
Again, don’t copy what I have written, even if you agree with it, but if something is really important to you, then lodge something. The email is wwwtowardszero.nsw.gov.au/2026plan
TRUCKRIGHT ABN 17426245866
TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle (TIV) Ten Years on the road, 2019.
TRUCKRIGHT Awarded Highly Commended, 3M ACRS Diamond Road Safety Awards 2015. Finalist 3M ACRS Diamond Road Safety Awards 2016, Awarded Churchill Fellowship 2016. Green Reflector Marking Informal Truck Bays, finally completed the Newell Highway 2019.
NSW Centre for Road Safety 2026 Road Safety Forum. I asked was this towards the National Road Safety Strategy and was told, yes.
I was able to attend the meeting held in Dubbo on Wednesday 21st April and raised a number of these issues, but was told I could email all until the 29th April, hence the following.
I have read through the documentation provided and make the following comments. Firstly I am aware both of the failure of the previous strategy to reach it’s goals and the criticism of this new document, in not having suitable accountability and tracking against the road toll.
I am a fulltime interstate b-double truck driver and the road is my workplace, yet it is still not recognised as such. My life not only depends on safe roads, but suitable rest sites and facilities and sufficient education of motorists about sharing the road with trucks, which to now have all but been ignored.
You quote fatigue as being a major factor, citing 80% of single vehicle crashes veer off the road on one side or the other, yet nothing has been done to ensure there are suitable and sufficient rest areas, let alone specifically for truck drivers who must not only manage their fatigue for their own safety, but must also be legally compliant with inflexible rules and substantial penalties if they don’t comply. The last study done by Austroads in 2012 confirmed not one of our major highways met the minimum number of truck rest areas required, let alone the lack of and access to, toilets etc.
Current log book laws do not take account of individual drivers needs and metabolism, let alone the fact that most of the factors that affect my ability to do the job safely, are out of my control. Loading and unloading site delays, traffic, including lack of planning for trucks, lack or good quality truck rest areas with toilets and shade and this is getting worse and even more so in cities, roadworks, crashes and other factors completely out of my control. Yes I can anticipate, make allowances, but the laws and those who police them don’t!
There needs to be better and more detailed crash investigations and a study of deemed fatigue truck crashes against the availability of suitable and sufficient truck rest areas. In my 20 plus years on the road, in all that time I have seen fewer than 10 cars pulled up and asleep in car rest areas, yet these sites cost money to build, more often than not have good shade, facilities and toilets, that are then by design and signage, in accessible to truck drivers. This is a complete and utter waste and under utilisation of roadside rest areas. They need to be designed to suit both to improve the value for money spent. The costs are exploding and for too many years trucks, have been lucky to get a bit of dirt with a bin.
The Pacific Highway is now arguably the best road in Australia, but we have gone backward with the number of truck rest areas, losing more with each bypass and road section improvement when we have never had enough on this road. Ten years ago I wrote, emailed and rang RTA saying they must include a changeover facility on the new road. They knew of the traffic and issues at the BP Clybucca, yet did nothing! This to my thoughts is nearing on criminal negligence, knowing of a problem, yet completely ignoring it. The road transport industry has changed practices to have drivers take a loaded truck, so no loading or unloading, meet another half-way, then return to their own bed, yet road authorities took 30 years to do this on the Hume and now have ignored the second biggest truck traffic route.
I travel the Newell Highway weekly. There are not enough rest areas. RMS have just duplicated nearly 40 kilometres of road south from Boggabilla. I contacted them when they started, during the works and again at completion. I asked would they at the absolute minimum, guarantee that we would not lose the current informal truck sites within these works. They spent money on one bay, yet made it worse, removing our access to shade, making it smaller band changing the camber, so the money actually was doubly wasted, it made it worse than it was before they started. So I rang and explained why, again asking not to lose more sites. We have gone from approximately 28 b-doubles spaces back to 6 in this section, only two of those spaces are well clear of the road giving you any chance of sleep and then they tore up 40 kilometres of free parking bays, actually spending money to tear up the old and now unused road. This after I contacted them explaining the needs of tired truckies. This is the third time it has happened and I can document the others as well.
You can clearly see on the map of fatalities you have provided, the path of the New England Highway, so this road needs improvement.
There are no real truck facilities in Dubbo, yet it is the crossroads of NSW. This is criminal. Driver Revivor sites can be helpful, but some exclude truckies saying we are professionals, some you simply can’t park a truck near them and some leave signs out saying they are open and then when you get there, they have gone home and I find this a serious issue, you have planned a break, say hello and have a cuppa, then with no one there, you feel much worse.
I do recognise and support wide centre lines, though will say this must not be done at the expense or loss of road shoulders and audio tactile line marking, though currently this is not as effective for trucks and could be better.
You, I am concerned, have again misused truck figures to demonise truck drivers, quoting 17% of fatalities involve heavy vehicles. Your presenter did make comment on at fault, but you cannot continue to do this without looking at kilometres travelled. I travel 200,000 kilometres per year to the average motorists 20,000, so my level of exposure and risk is ten times that of a car driver. I have figures from a previous study in 2014 that articulated trucks are responsible for only 6% of fatalities and that 710 truck drivers were involved in fatalities that were not their fault. Yet no one ever tells this truth or recognises the issues for those drivers!
Heavy vehicle fines and penalties for offences which have nothing to do with road safety, the way police punish drivers for what are often mistakes, but carry heavy monetary fines, simply increase anxiety and contribute to mental health problems. This is even more exacerbated by the way truckies are treated at crash sites, whether they are at fault or not and again, none of this improves road safety.
The placement of speed cameras in Dubbo warrants mention. The two regular places I see, one at the bottom of a hill and one over a steep hill, are both sites with little to no cross traffic, crash events, yet other places with real issues are ignored. This shows they are only to make money, not do one thing to improve road safety.
New phone detection cameras on the highways stick out like beacons, so can be avoided by all but those not watching the road. All too often now in trucks, we can see down into cars where people have their phones on their laps to avoid camera and police detection, and all this means they are looking even further away from the road to see and use their phones. It is getting worse, but as truckies, phones are not just a part of business, they are often our only lifeline to family and any sort of a normal life having friends. We are not perfect either and the ambient noise in trucks can be a problem, but most are set up legally.
Road conditions, bad design or building and then on top of that, bad or sub-standard repairs continue to affect my safety on the road. I do ring road authorities and detail such issues, but there is a section of road just south of Yelarbon where they have just done work, that I have been asking for that work for over 5 years. It was an undulating section that could see the wheels of a loaded b-double off the road surface, that had skid marks flowing off the side of the road, which engineers agreed was a problem after I again for the tenth time, complained it was dangerous, yet it took nearly 6 years to get repairs started!
Blinding lights at roadworks, lights left on blinding traffic with very little road width, cars fitting illegal aftermarket headlights without load levelling suspensions and vehicles towing caravanswioth the same issues are other issues.
In am asking for four things, that if introduced and properly acted on, would each alone, improve my safety on the road, but together, would make a substantial difference to the road toll and not all will cost a lot above now, just better use of those funds plus a bit more.
- Inclusion of some form of education about sharing the road with trucks at or before initial licensing test. I have promoted the Truckies Top Ten Tips which are now available as videos at no cost at www.sharetheroad.net.au and have emailed and suggested such inclusions a number of times to state road authorities over the last ten years. Please look at learner driver information and questions, there is nearly nothing about trucks and there was less before I complained last time.
- We need a National Road Standard, so that if I have a 2m piece of pipe and laid on the road there is for example more than 200mm gap, then it must be repaired within a certain time. Trucks see and feel such failures and deformities first and hardest, not only do these impacts affect the trucks, possibly contributing to parts failure down the road, they affect my safety in that truck, the cost to maintain that truck and those impacts then flow into my body over thousands of kilometres and impacts, then they go back into the road. Many drivers ask, why must our trucks be roadworthy, when the roads are not truck worthy? Trucks are blamed for damaging the roads, yet if the road is built up to a standard and not down to a cost, if will last longer, cost less to maintain and trucks will simply travel over it, instead of all such impacts going into the truck, then the driver, increasing my fatigue in trying to keep the truck on the road, then impacts back into the road. The truck I drive can record and locate such impacts, one of the worst, a failed culvert showing a 2.3g impact. At that weight I would be grounded and severely fined, yet the road can do that to the truck and I without consequence or recourse. This is a simplified version listing the issues, but it could be done and truckies would happily report failures, as the earlier they are reported, the quicker and more importantly to road authorities, the cheaper they are to fix, as they only ever get bigger and worse, perhaps then to the point of being a contributing factor to a crash.
- We need a National Rest Area Strategy. We now have national guidelines for the design of truck rest areas, but there is no mandate to build them, no requirement not to remove any, even informal sites without replacing them and no mandatory inclusion of rest areas to be included in new roads and or reconstruction. I can quote and specify many realignments of roads where the old road has then been torn up, with no consideration whatsoever of not only the possibility of virtually free truck rest areas, often with good shade, but they would save money by not tearing up every square inch of possible rest area. In some places now, we are going backwards, yet the number of trucks and cars continue to climb and everyone knows fatigue contributes to crashes, yet what has really been done to fight this?
- I have been promoting the use of green reflectors for marking informal truck bays for over 20 years in a 3,2,1 format which is now recognised with formal guidelines in Qld and NSW. I have had drivers tell me I have saved their life with this simple cheap and effective way of marking informal truck bays, yet I am still struggling to get one state to act on it fully, let alone get it national. It was initially envisaged as an interim measure till we had enough truck rest areas, but now it is even more important with truckstops closing, the loss of many informal sites, particularly with town by passes
- This last is not as critical, but with the growing number of caravans and motorhomes on the road and the fact they can sometimes be getting close to the size of a semi-trailer, yet with the larger style of what is called a fifth wheeler, so a large tow vehicle with a small turntable, so it is an articulated combination, yet nothing has been done towards at the least a course and perhaps more validly, the need for a license class, test and relevant standards for such combinations.
Thank you for this opportunity, I do hope it is both taken seriously and with genuine intent. Rod Hannifey.