29th October 2022, BACK to WORK.

Goodaye all, thanks to all who commented and responded to my last blog. A few have called up on the road as well and I do appreciate your support.

Well first week back at work, an early return, but I had pushed my exercises etc and have things in place with work for a sensible plan to get me back on the road. Being my left shoulder will help. It was not a simple return, I know you will all be shocked that it did not happen as planned. Suffice to say things delayed my actually driving out the gate, till nearly 8pm after getting out to work early that day.

The truck was due for service, it had not been fueled or washed etc due to some extra factors and by the time I left, I simply had to get going to have any chance of getting unloaded on the way down and then getting loaded the next afternoon in Melbourne. The Newell was open to trucks south of Forbes and just for fun, let’s poke that bear. After the second last major floods, there was a plan supposedly put in place to floodproof the Newell, or as best as possible. Then there was the last floods and they said, bugger, this flood is different and we will have to relook at what we were going to do again, before we do anything at all.

Now had they simply started on the perhaps 8 areas and culverts that cop most of the water and so then flood and or fail, so at least doing one a year, then we would have had maybe the four worst ones improved for now, if not fixed for the next 50 years. But no, we are still all thinking and planning and the transport industry and its’ customers have been failed again by those who do not have to drive through the failures when it is open, or go hours out of their way each time it is closed and not just for a day, but weeks on end.

This is a major transport route, it should be part of both a national highway network that must be improved and made not only safe for all who use it, but recognised as a major transport corridor. I think we have gone backwards since the Feds gave the responsibility for such roads to the states. Many transport companies are now avoiding the Newell if they can (and I would welcome comments and or actual change of use issues) and going through Sydney.

This is only putting much more pressure on the lack of truck bays on the Pacific Highway, which after having millions spent making it is a much better road, perhaps one of the best and better than the Hume as it is now, but without a changeover site for those needing it. I asked, when the road was being built, but here we are again chasing our tails and begging for facilities that should have been included during the build, not still being pursued years after it is done.

Why wasn’t the industry properly consulted and the Gatton roadtrain pads completed before the Toowoomba bypass? Why are we not included in discussions and consultations about things that affect us directly and then those who make the decisions, not even a bit. This must change!

So it has been a flat out return and here I am in sunny Mackay, finally able to sweep out the floor and start to get the truck back to where it was. There is still some more to do and I had hoped to be home to do some this first week-end back, but if all goes to plan, I will be back up here next week-end to be able to speak at a transport industry forum (but missed the one in Dubbo Friday) in Mackay next Wednesday. We will see. Depending on the weather and things, I may even talk to you all tomorrow. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.


23rd October 2022

Goodaye all, it has been a while I know and there are some good reasons for that and there are then others that simply added weight and pressure. After twenty years of effort, much of which few of you will care about and even fewer would even be aware of or even recognise, I thought I was so close to getting the last TIV sorted and on the road. Yes after much delay, some of it mine, some due to covid etc, we got the truck on the road and thanks to all who supported, contributed and helped.

Then I did my second, left this time, shoulder and bicep. Again I was told if I was retiring next year, maybe let it go, but with the new truck and my commitment to another five years, if I wanted to be able to lift my arm above my shoulder, I had to get it done. Got surgery, home, tidied some things and started on the 3M clear coat on the tanks, having done the bullbar myself and wish I could have had it all done before it hit the road, but such is life they say.

Then some things changed and I will have to mull that over some more before I if ever, talk about it here. Suffice to say I have pushed really hard with the exercises, doing treble what I was supposed to, have started the minimal weight training early and will return to work tomorrow with the truck and 50 year RPT trailers. They had new curtains, gate skates and with the truck being an auto and with the fold out stairs, my surgeon, physio and doctor had all agreed I can get back to it a bit earlier than some have.

Now to those who think I have been home watching tv, (yes I did a bit) but did the garden again like last time and went to Canberra as reported previously. I have spent time on the phone and emails etc, plus then to Melbourne at the invitation of Senator Carol Brown, the Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Transport to attend a discussion on the National Road Safety Strategy. As with the Canberra meeting I was the only driver and passionately put forward our concerns. I submitted a written list and then spoke to that list in the meeting.

I managed to meet up with two of the Women in Trucking Australia ladies the morning of the meeting and was able to also arrange an invite for Julie Downey to attend the meeting that day and at very short notice and with her very personal involvement in the information she supplied, detailed how the seatbelts in trucks and even the crash tests and dummies used, do not recognise the female population at all. It had never occurred to me how such could even happen, let alone be allowed, but Julie detailed the inconsistencies and failings of the current testing and fitting of seatbelts, specifically in trucks, that do not recognise women’s frame and body.

I raised some issues that had not been previously included at such forums, the NHVR gentleman beside me backed me up on the rest areas issue and others did have some recognition of some trucking issues, but most agreed with my comments that we are not treated fairly in the media, that we are not recognised for the lives we save, yet castigated and found guilty for any lives we take, initially whether we are responsible or not! Julie from TWiA told of a female truckie involved with a pedestrian suicide when she was driving, that was treated so badly by authorities, she is in a mental institution!

I also attended a Rural Road Safety Day at Lowes Petroleum in Dubbo for a sausage sizzle and spoke there with the Mayor about roads and ringroads etc. Another fellow I spoke with is due to retire soon and having done stock much of his life, though it has given him and his family all they have now, had done his shoulder, could not take the time off as an owner driver to get it fixed and now can barely lift it to his shoulder height, but can’t lift any weight with it at all. He was not happy many things have not been fixed, but says not only are those issues all still relevant, but shock, COR has not got to some cockies either and many still expect things above what is legal. It is now changing as older blokes leave and some won’t simply just do what they are asked or told to get the work and the lessening numbers mean there will be more change. But funny how it is not discussed or seen much and while I hope one day COR will actually work, till now it has been a marvellous theory with little bite above driver level and much talk. Let’s hope it works soon. 

I have again chased the NT authorities about green reflectors, chased SA to see where they are at, but believe they have done a lot of work marking sites and I thank them for that. A complete list of possible sites for the wire rope overlaps for the Hume in Victoria was sent in and time to chase that again now.

I have been invited to discuss further highway and rest area future works with Transport for NSW, told them I will be chasing a changeover site on the Pacific, (yes another broken record I know) and toilets and improved truck parking, along with a ringroad for Dubbo. It seems I will possibly miss the Regional Freight Forum meeting in Dubbo next Friday to discuss road safety etc, but the flooding may see that moved back?

I aim to attend a Queensland Heavy Vehicle Safety Forum in November and once back on the road, get the new trailers for next year sorted and back into it. Last week-end I was able to travel to Lithgow for the Australian Caravan Club Muster and spoke there for 90 minutes giving a presentation that discussed trucks, the industry, rest areas and included the excellent WhitelineTv videos. And on Friday, knowing the Newell was closed north of Narrabri, checked live traffic as I went in theory on my way to the CMCA rally at Bingara, where I was to do a similar presentation.

But there had been torrential rain which then meant the road to Bingara was also closed, though still open on live traffic when I turned around at Narrabri and after ringing and apologising that I had kept coming and certainly tried, I would not be able to attend.

So to all of you who have offered a comment or support, to those who have given me a call and to those who still want it all fixed, I have two questions. What are you doing to see it changed and have you joined an association? I don’t care if you join the union, because you work local, you join the Victorian, Queensland or other Trucking Association because that is where you live, but doing it on your own is hard work, hard on family and very frustrating. If you join an association, then be involved, nit just a number. You don’t have to give over your whole life, just do more than those who sit and complain nothing gets fixed. The NRFA is another alternative if you want to see change.

Yes the roads are terrible, yes the HVNL review is already outdated and not even complete, but no one outside of us who live on the road really care about us. I have tried, I will accept I have failed at some things and maybe could have done more, but I have not given up and will do another 5 years. You can help or you can sit back and whinge. I can’t do it all on my own, but I am still trying. What are you doing? I look forward to catching up with many, stay safe and give me a call. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.