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21st May 2022 Putty Road Truck Drivers Memorial

Goodaye all, I have just returned to Singleton from attending and speaking at the Putty Road Memorial. Yet another one of the few places and times, truckies are recognised. Ten more names of drivers who have died or passed on and who were in the industry, were added today. Like many events, covid has meant a gap in such events and to see truckies attending and family members laying wreaths or flowers and remembering those who have left our roads is very moving.

Last time I attended, I was able to get a permit from NHVR and have the TIV b-double on site. With a few issues re trailers and work, I had thought I would be letting them down, but managed to get loaded Thursday, spent a day and a bit at Singleton and then spoke today, will attend the dinner and then hit the road.

When I pulled up to load Thursday afternoon, I had to wait outside a yard with trucks and trailers inside and a bloke walked up to his fence and said, “I don’t always agree with what you say, but the industry is buggered. I was cleaning out the shed and reading old copies of Truckin’ Life and Truck and Bus and we are still asking for what we wanted fixed then.” He said when I was loaded to come and have a look at his 900.

I started loading, had to jig things around a bit and another local truck, turned up outside. He sat there, perhaps on hourly rate and was happy to wait. Needing to change ends on the tautliners etc, I suggested they bring him in and unload him while I caught up. I did not need to, no one else thought of it, but it was the right thing to do. In loading, it was an ugly load and in the end we got it done, but I really ran out of ratchets and straps, loose light stuff over other stuff and using mezzanine floors, having to double and triple strap, so no 34 pallets on and go. The blokes loading me had been due to finish half an hour earlier.

So now loaded and knowing I had time to spare, I pulled outside so they could lock the gates and the last fellow head home and went to chat with Keith, met his son and looked at his 900. He says it has cost him a lot on money and I thought it must have been a project truck, but he drove it for years and then his son for some as well. It is 95% finished and he has been busy of late, so not had as much time to work on it. It looks magnificent and will go back to do a bit of work when finished.

There were a few old trucks at the Putty Road Memorial, and I spoke with many drivers and at the end, a lady came up to me and said, she enjoyed my talk, but there are some ratbags out there. That has always been the case, the few who behave badly, tailgate cars and caravans, (particularly when then is no place to pass for kilometres) park at the bowser while they get a coffee when there are only two, fail to indicate or thank people when they let them in or out, are the ones others remember and think we are all the same.

So you say, you can’t be perfect all the time and you are right, none of us can. Like you, I make mistakes and sometimes do the wrong thing, but I try hard not to, I will own up and I will thank others. A few weeks ago, I pulled out into a merge lane and the fellow in the next (and totally separate) lane beside me went off. He knew my boss, he knew my truck and I would not have a job by the end of the day. I honestly could not work out what his problem was and thought it must have been the truck I had pulled out across, coming in the other direction. It was one of those intersections we all hate, you wait and wait and then have to pick the best spot to get out in a loaded b-double.

The one going the other way did not have a problem, but the bloke I pulled out beside kept on for 5 minutes, even after I had apologised (and I have made certain I was in the right, there is a separate merge lane beside his which they can’t access, it is designed and signed that way) and I nearly caused a big crash etc. In the end others told him to pull his head in. Now the poor bugger may have had a bad day, he may simply, once having started his rant, not wanted to accept he had made a mistake, but nothing happened and he could simply have said, “Sorry mate”.

If we can’t work together, when no one else really cares about us, then what hope have we got? Yes in my talk today I spoke of losing a mate, Chris Harmer, how important such mates are on the road, about making an effort, joining an association or group of some kind, ringing road authorities to report road conditions and how yes, we are still asking for the same stuff we wanted fixed 20 years ago. Why is that and what can we do?

When old mate with the 900 did thank me for the green reflectors, I at least felt I had not completely let him down. I agreed we have not solved all the problems, if any, but what is the alternative? I can just walk away and have a normal drivers life, or I can keep trying. I will, what will you do?

Congratulations to the organisers and the locals who support the Putty Road Memorial, the rain may have had an impact, it did come and go, but they as I said, are one of the few industry groups who recognise and value drivers and we need much more of that from where I sit. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

By truckright

An Australian truckie aiming to improve both how the road transport industry is seen and understood by the public and to improve road safety for all.

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