11th November 2018. Lest we Forget. Farms and rain and Trucking.

Goodaye all.  To all who do recognise and remember, “Lest we Forget” today.

Sorry for missing you last week, too much work and too little time. A farm delivery Saturday afternoon and just in time, as the rain came down less than an hour back down the road and I should have been able to get in and out on the hard road, but the forklift would not have copped at all. That meant I got home 10PM Saturday night, slept in the truck and was to be loaded the next morning while on my break, but someone needed a key to get the freight and so a bit more time lost. Then back on the road at 10PM that night headed for Toowoomba.

Unload etc then have my break, thanks to ICEPACK, it was a much enjoyed sleep. In to Brisbane and load for Goondiwindi, reload a bit and home to Dubbo, then load for Melbourne. I do understand timeslots for DCs (distribution centres) but I fail to see how a timeslot booked three days in advance when so many things can change (and mostly things well out of my control) really fits with Chain of Responsibility, let alone getting there and then sitting for 3 to 4 hours.

I believe a driver should be able to contact the DC and have some flexibility available to them. Some are good and others seem to think they rule the world and particularly, yours. If you are only given a 15 minute window early and after 30 minutes late, are told to “Rebook and come back another day”, then after 45 minutes, they should be paying demurrage and I bet we would not be sitting there for three hours plus then.

The USA was due to try and get a law in that anytime over an hour at a DC would incur demurrage charges and this should be brought in here. I am still watching the USA to see if and when it might get up. Of course no one else cares about our time being wasted, do they?

My mate Yogi got a fine for a camera offense and it is one of the things the TRUCK THAT Australia Drivers Club put up for review. Please explain how a fine previously deemed to be an attempt to avoid Safe-t-cam by moving to the side of the road, can still take your photo and issue said fine? Crossing the left hand line or fog line is of no safety issue to anyone and if they can still take your photo, how can they justify $1400 plus 4 demerit points?

I was coming out of Melbourne Thursday afternoon, grossing over 66 tonne and displaying Bulk Dangerous goods signs and this goose in a ute could not wait behind me to take the next exit, he came up beside me and nearly pushed the car in front, so he could move into a non-existent gap between us to get off at the exit at the last second. I lit him up and gave him the horn and he of course was so sorry for making such a stupid and dangerous driving error, he gave me the finger and it seemed, screamed abuse at me. Sorry for not allowing you to be stupid in a safe way.

This happens on a regular basis, people seem to think the truck should do all and anything to allow them to do what and when they want. Do they realise it is not just a car they expect us to fling about and speed up or slow down for them, so they can risk both our lives not quite as badly? How many of you were taught about trucks when you got your license and have you been taught by anyone since?

I would welcome your views on two questions.
1. Do you believe we now teach people just to pass the driving test, let alone survive on the road for the next 50 years?
2. Were you given any instruction, guidance or knowledge about sharing the road with trucks when you did your learners?
Off to Melbourne now and I look forward to your replies. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

28th October 2018. Do you like audiobooks?

Goodaye all. My apologies for deserting you last week. Just not enough hours in the day.
This is my post from this weeks “Audiobooks for the road” Facebook page. I did get one done there last week and was feeling a little bit philosophical and don’t want to get too far behind with what I have read and then as it were, lose the plot.

I am in two minds to the future and will have a more succinct plan soon, or it will be too late for the next and last TIV, hence my uncertainty on a few things. This audiobook page is another one of my hobbies now and the job of interstate truckie can be a long and lonely one and yes I do enjoy radio and music. But I have loved reading since being a kid and yet with this job and trying to keep up with industry news and events, there is little time for reading for enjoyment, hence my passion for audiobooks.

So I will ask any of you who are fans of audiobooks both for your favourites and if interested, in your comments.

If I aim to continue with the TIV concept, survive and retire with more than $5 to live on, I must find a major sponsor and I have looked and asked and it seems, I need to do it some more, so I shall start now and keep you informed. In the meantime, let me know what you enjoy and think of audiobooks.

28/10/2018 Goodaye all. I am certainly a fan of David Baldacci, his characters John Puller, Will Robbie, King and Maxwell and Amos Decker have all enticed me into stories and kept me entertained for hours. And having checked another list, I find there are many more including stand alone books. So many books to read, so little time.

I think I have read nearly all of them and did go and get the list to see what I had missed, but in the library last week saw “The Fix” and checking, found I had not read it yet. So I am familiar with the character and yet this book held my attention from start to finish.
.
Even in conversation with young Greg about books only yesterday in the yard, your mood can have a big impact on whether a particular story will take your interest. How you are feeling, what is going on, whether you need to escape life for a day or so. How many of you have thought about this, or do you disagree?

I have said from the start of this page, you must drive safely first. Yes books can keep your mind engaged instead of getting bored and losing concentration or getting drowsy, but you must know where you are and what you are doing. Letting your mind drift too far and getting enthralled into a story, that means you lose concentration about your surroundings, is when you should consider turning it off. Even changing CDs can be unsafe, so please enjoy the story, but don’t it let it make you a danger to yourself and or others.

Reading others reviews, some loved it, some did not. To me it kept changing, yes I may have done some eye rolling at pieces, but it went through things as we all do that impact on our lives. Maybe I just needed some escapism to take my mind off other things, but I loved it. Rating 4.6 Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

14th October 2018. What am I doing?

Goodaye all. Following on from last week, what can I do? Well, I have sent a list to my RMS contact thanking him for some repairs I asked to be done, complaining of those done that have failed and suggesting I am about ready to start making a lot more noise about the impacts on the Newell between Narrabri and Goondiwindi, the most and worst impacts in one section of “highway” in Australia.

I have written to the NHVR direct with a list of concerns and requests, some of which are ongoing and some of which are serious in nature, some only minor. I wrote to the Minister about the upcoming Strategy for the Newell, asking where did all the effort go I put into the last one and did get a reply back, saying that effort will be part of the data.

I am chasing the green reflector informal truck bay posters NHVR have before another minister awaiting approval, so I can put them up in roadhouses along the Newell and finally, after only 19 years, complete something so simple, cheap and effective, it should be across Australia. I have spoken with a couple of others who support the green reflectors and offered comment and I have replied to the welcome Facebook page by TMR about them, but they have not replied.

I am working on a caravan reviver idea for Dubbo next year, will be involved in filming next week for a road safety with trucks effort, will be near joyfully happy, when we get the “TRUCKIES TOP TEN TIPS” filmed in the new year to be available to schools and others to see something finally done, on educating motorists about sharing the road with trucks.

I am asking members of road authorities why they are so precious about us using their stockpile sites and is it not better to have a tired driver able to stop, when we do not have and I honestly doubt, will have in my lifetime, suitable and sufficient truck rest areas for us to safely manage our fatigue, let alone the rules to give us a fair go.

I am asking why there is all stick and no carrot in anyone’s dealing with drivers, another driver has sent me his tale of woe and yet another, who is trying to do something positive, found he has been ignored, so I have offered another idea to try.

I am waiting to win the Lotto of find someone who will help me make the next and last TIV, the best as I can’t do it alone. I just need someone who loves trucks more than money. I am trying to catch up on my reading here, as I have a bag full of books for the USA etc to go through from my trip and others yet to email. I did email and put in a submission to the FMCSA in the US and emailed the Washington Dept of Transport about the rest area with no bins.

I have just done my Facebook “Audiobooks for the road” page, now the blog and next my column for Owner Driver and then will have to get ready for work, hoping to get some repairs done tomorrow, before being on the road to Melbourne for a timeslot Tuesday morning, where I have qued from the road for over two hours, to even get to the gate previously.

I am tired and frustrated, need a dentist and the time and money to get to one and wish I was a better Father and there more for my family. This has become not just a job, but a hobby and a passion and at times, it is soul destroying when you cannot get one bit of road fixed, that is simply, dangerous and it seems, no one else (except for the drivers who have to live with all this) cares.

We spend too much time alone on the road, to do nothing and I truly believe, what I do can make a difference and save a life and it has kept me sane, but the other unseen impacts, I will have to live with for the rest of my life and will probably never understand them all, or how they have impacted others close to me. I am trying. Maybe I will have to think more on the answers to these problems. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

7th October 2018 Who is the danger?

Goodaye all. I have just read of the dangerous nature of our industry. Strange how we can be killed and maimed and pushed and treated like animals for years and now we must be made safe. All the experts now agree it is terrible. Yet why do all these experts have all the say, when those involved have been ignored for years?

So many times drivers have tried to be involved, to contribute and yet even more so, many have said no one will listen when they do. If I was a cynical bugger, I would say that there have been times we have been excluded from such opportunities to contribute by the way such requests were made to us. I have complained to all and sundry over the years that drivers need to be made aware of the chance to contribute in a timely way and in a way, they are comfortable to do so.

Putting out requests in industry press that reaches us after the closing date or not far from it, so we learn of the request too late to even consider it, only allowing written input, when I struggle to explain things in person, how can you explain it in writing, to some one who does not do the job?

Yes there have been meetings arranged and promoted at times and I have managed to attend some over time, but no one will pay me or any other driver to attend. I could lose nearly a weeks pay to drive to such a meeting, accommodation so I am not fatigued to drive home and when I have not been listened to before, why would I do that again?

I have asked drivers to attend meetings as I can’t go to all and do not want to be the only one who does at times and had them treated like scum and looked down upon by those conducting such meetings, only to be told by the driver afterwards, “I will never do that again, so don’t ever ask me to do it again!” I have even been abused over the phone for having the audacity to give out the phone number for a major entity when drivers say to me it is hard to explain in writing and so I said, give them a call.

Yes, it is hard to get to us. We are so widespread in our industry, we have ten different sectors or more, we are spread across the country with less and less facilities, far too few rest areas, let alone decent ones and we are blamed for the majority of crashes in the press and the figures they use are based to only make us look the bad guy every time.

Why is this industry the most dangerous? Our roads, our vehicles and other drivers all have known and in some ways, seemingly ignored contributions. With some of the impacts I hit each week, it is a true wonder we do not have more equipment failures on the road. Who else monitors that and do any road authorities have anything in place, let alone the funds to fix this. I have been told many things, from if the road is not visually broken, then it is not a problem, to it is a major repair and we don’t have the money to fix it.

When I have rang to complain of a bit of road, I have been told “It does not meet our intervention levels” and when I have offered data from the truck to verify how bad the impact is into the truck, been told that is not relevant! Yes I have had many bits fixed, some within days, weeks and some, such as one corner in Queensland, I have been asking to have fixed for well over 4 years and did get a phone call just last week to be told it is now allocated for repair, NEXT financial year.

What has been done in the last 20 years to help educate other drivers, those in cars responsible for the vast majority of crashes between cars and trucks? Very little. Years ago I suggested a video at time of licensing and did do such a video, but was told the authorities did not have tv screens available. A few years later I complained again about the lack of questions in learner driver handbooks and there was a change to include at least two questions relating to trucks, but that is still simply not enough.

What more can I do and what needs to be done? Next week my answers, but I would welcome your views. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

29th September 2018 Sydney and Adelaide for a change.

Goodaye all. A divergent week after a normal type start, loading Monday and delivering in Melbourne Tuesday, then load Bulk DG for a turf farm in Windsor out the end of Sydney. Get to the end of the road in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night and a No Through Road on the left, no name for the business I am looking for, but being very early in the morning after a long drive, I imagined then I should go right. Bad move. Travel along to find the street numbers dwindling when I had hoped they would go higher and the road getting narrower and no cross roads visible, so found a wide driveway into another farm and did a three point turn just managing to miss the one telegraph pole, right at the opposite side, the gutter on one side and the deep drain on the other.

Back up to the junction to find no name, but a street number in the dark just past the No Through Road sign. MMMMM, can’t stop on the road, so in to the NO Thru with trepidation and to bed. Not even asleep and a toot toot, up and look out, you can’t park there, drive down to the farm. Yeh right, off after him and a bloke would not drive down there in a car not knowing what was ahead and I am in something somewhat bigger. I hit the powerlines with the aerials on the truck trying to get around the corner, hit the trees getting down the road and then parked up and went to bed.

Unloaded later that morning and then some phone problems after that, me and the bill issues, then into Sydney and load for Adelaide. Barely get in the gate off the road to load even from the wrong side of the road and then a que of trucks pulls up behind and glares at me as I load my b-double with a full load. Don’t rush I’m told, they will just have to wait, but they can’t get round me or back out now, so they glare as I try to hurry safely. I would not have been happy waiting an hour. Two forks on me now (and found later one had hit the back of the plastic guard and bent the mudflap bracket after I had just fixed the other side last week from another forkie) and off to Adelaide.

Another road to continue my listing of truck rest areas, informal truck bays etc, so a good thing that way as well. After some big sections with either lots of stupidly sized and painted, yet ridiculously too small painted shoulder bays, or good rest areas with gaps or nothing at all for miles and after finding a spot south of Mildura to sleep in, I then ran on into Adelaide. Unloading all good and getting fuel with an issue with the new truck GPS system that hopefully won’t come back and bite me, but the fellows with the crane and witches hats I had to get around, seemed impressed I missed them, with much thumbs up going on.

Coming up out of Adelaide I was musing on the roughness of the road on the Sturt Highway northbound went over a crest and whoa, it felt like 4 hits together, what a ride, probably with the wheels off the ground and the skidmarks which followed this engineering marvel, attest to the fact someone else had a serious issue with it too. I did have some other things on my mind like managing my hours to get home in time for trailer machinery inspections, so it was the next day before I rang to lodge a complaint. I did speak with another driver during the night who said, yes I know that bit and use the other lane. I asked had he complained and suggested he did, as he is on that road every week.

When I rang I mentioned the fact I thought it was the biggest impact in the last 5 years and I was concerned. To the credit of the gentleman I spoke with, he rang back asking had I seen the rough surface signs and I did not recall them, but that the way I described it, they could not just patch it and he had ramped it up to a major repair. I had offered my name and number initially and he asked could he pass that on if needed and I agreed and will hope to save some other poor bugger from such an impact. I was driving and so could not take details from him, but he texted me an incident number and I will follow up in two weeks. Any of you who know the road and issue I speak of, I would welcome any comments and support of the repair please.

Got home, machineries done, a few minor repairs as I went straight there and then the accelerator died again as per last week. In the scheme of things, at least I was in Dubbo and had the inspections done and was loaded. Still got it back to the yard and had it fixed for now with some more work to follow hopefully next week.

Whilst loading the young lady spoke of her plans for the long weekend. Ah yes, that would be nice, but with the holiday only in NSW, I get to go to work Sunday like normal to be able to do a timeslot in Melbourne early Monday after unloading the back trailer, so yes, a long week end would have been nice. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

22nd September 2018. Short and Sweet?

 

Goodaye all. Short and sweet this week. How much do any of you know about “Chain of Responsibility” or even “Safe Rates”. Are they both media catch cries you have heard in relation to road transport, but not understood? Are they relevant to you in your job, or do they resonate with your OH&S workplace guidelines or are similarly about your pay and conditions?

The “Chain of Responsibility” came in over ten years ago and was meant to take all the punishment and blame, then solely placed on truckdrivers and spread that blame “up the chain” to those who pushed drivers to break the law and or put them in a no win position, saying be there or don’t ever come back for a load, but without any such proof, the driver was still the bunny caught in the headlights, when anything at all went pear shaped.

It was a marvellous concept, but very little changed. There is a new version due to come into effect on the 1st October and will it change that? I don’t know. I hope it will finally go some way to achieving what it espoused when it was legislated, but I am concerned it will only increase fines and punishment on drivers, at least in the short term, till someone further up that mysterious chain gets pinged and then just maybe, others will finally be held truly accountable.

Are we using a sledge hammer to push in a thumbscrew, or do we need to go to that level to get those up the chain, to both recognise they cannot put a driver in that no win situation with complete impunity to the consequences, but that they must bear some of that responsibility when they contribute to the problem, howsoever caused?

I do not know anyone in the world who goes to work to kill or be killed in their job. I hope and believe we all want to be paid a fair wage for a fair days work and that we should be safe earning that income. Monash University recently released a report saying truckies are 13 times more likely to die on the job than any other group. I had a number of radio stations ring me about it and I said, some things have improved as in all walks of life, but there are certain issues not being fully addressed.

No education of motorists about sharing the road with trucks, insufficient number, design and facilities in truck rest areas for us to always be able to safely manage our fatigue and we are the ones who have to do the work, yet those who tell us how to do it, who design and enforce the rules and penalties, have all the facilities known to man within walking distance of their executive chairs and we can’t even get shade or toilets in rest areas, let alone better roads and driver education.

It is frustrating and difficult to get such things improved, let alone completely rectified and we have the different states rules etc as well. But what do you think or know of either and is it like all things, the truth we see and read is so far from the real truth, that it is nearly too hard to find? Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

16th September 2018. Northbound to Townsville and back to Brissie.

Goodaye all. I did miss our ABC radio while away, but missed my audio books too and doing a trip to Townsville is a good excuse to get back into them. I loaded out of Melbourne last week, got home Saturday, planned to get a couple of little things done Monday and was under half successful, but hit the road just after lunchtime.

I travelled through to Bundaberg that night pulling up in a suitable green reflector bay just before a cane train crossing going into Bundy and slept there. A driver called me up on the UHF just as I left to go and unload and said Luke from Nightshift had been looking for me the night before, something to do with roadworks.

I had been told to load Wednesday, hence the late leave from Dubbo, but being unloaded just after lunch Tuesday, I rang and asked could I load Tuesday and was told yes, so on to Gladstone and after reloading for Townsville, had dinner with my cousin. Then it was on to the BP at Balberra as I was to look at a load in Mackay on my way up. I rang Luke and he had a Traffic Controller on before me saying the trucks were behaving themselves tonight and it seems he had complained of some bad behaviour by truckies the night before.

I offered a view and explained some of our frustrations, asking what Traffic Controllers were taught about trucks? The two issues I have seen most, are being flagged down as if you are doing 80 in a 20 zone when you are already below the posted limit and the times when a TC will stop trucks for cars, or make you stop just to show they have the power to do so, and then let you go. I offered to talk with the TC fellow saying I was off to bed soon. He rang me and we had a quick chat, him saying he teaches new TC recruits to give trucks a fair go, but I asked was it in their training so that all learned, not just those he taught? We have agreed to work towards some improvements on both sides.

When I got up later that morning, I rang and sussed out the pick-up for the return trip and went through nearly to Townsville and pulled up to check directions to unload and found a leaking airbag. No one available to come out then, so in to unload only the find the road closed and had to go round the block, then try and get in missing a tree, bollards, an undermined road and a narrow gate.

After unloading and confirming a repair for the morning, I rang my sister and went and had tea with her and the family as it has been a long time since I had the chance to do so. Back to the truck to bed and out for a new airbag in the morning and on the way.

Some of you may have seen where I am working with Transport Certification Australia (TCA) mapping green reflector bays so that these too can be included in any truck GPS, mapping and rest area programs. The Newell is near done and as part of this trip, I have made a list of sites on the Leichardt Highway to Moonie, the Bunya Highway to Murgon, the Burnett Highway to Ban Ban Springs and then the Isis Highway to Childers. As I approached Ban Ban Springs, there was a new green reflector bay marked and I must thank the fellow from TMR there, who contacted me some time ago and we spoke of some sites in the area and he has gone on and marked them, thanks.

I then did the Bruce Highway northbound and again southbound on my way back to Brisbane, so many more to be done and I have responded to a TMR Facebook page, asking what the 3,2,1, green reflectors mean, asking them to give me someone to pursue. I aim to continue to follow up on my business cards from the Churchill trip now and will be on the road tomorrow after unloading and reloading. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

9th September 2018. The Future.

Goodaye all. I need a holiday to work on my efforts to complete my Churchill Trip, the next TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle and my family. The more you do, the more there is to do, but it is hard to do it all while you have to work in a job that means you are on the road and away from it all. Yes there is the marvellous internet, but that is another cost of both time and money and both are in short supply at the moment.

I have nearly completed my Churchill report, still have maybe 60 business cards to reply to, need to sort out which to pursue from the trip and all the rest. Then there is the future, what to do and when and how. I have some things I would love to pursue, but they will take more time and money and whilst I do have some spare time on the road, often it is time that I simply can’t use to the fullest, as I am waiting to load or unload, waiting for the truck, the customer etc.

Then of course there is the time you need for meals, showers and sleeping and again, it is not just the time to do one thing, it is the whole time it takes to stop, order, que etc and then get going again. I love what I do and it is also my hobby and my passion, as most of you who know me will agree. It is simply the issue of time and if you have a set job and hours, it is easier to arrange. As with all our laws and penalties, they are designed and policed by those who do not have to live by them themselves and I don’t think they listen and give us a fair go all the time.

Having seen the truckstops and facilities in the USA, we are not in the same league. Yes there are still not enough spaces there and not all rest areas are the same, but the scope and size of some and the facilities and regularity on some roads, is so far in front of us.

Then there is the driver shortage and what to do with that. I see a young fellow did a story saying we must focus on the positive and there is a marvellous future in the industry and that there are many opportunities for young people. That is true and it is not. If those of us who do this job because we love it are leaving, then there must be something wrong with the job. Another fellow wrote a piece saying he has told his children to stay out of trucking.

Surely there is a reason behind his comment, not just that he doesn’t like it. He is trying to help and protect his children from the life he now leads, never home, living in a truck, lousy facilities and food on the road, bad drivers who are not taught to share the road with us, always blamed by default for crashes and the loss of peoples lives and fined if he works overtime again, by those who have every facility they need within walking distance of their office chair.

I want it fixed, I want it fair and I want to help. I will be called a dreamer or worse, but I have tried and I have not yet given up, but if I tell people how good a job it is when it isn’t, am I not making it worse, because they will leave and tell others it was not what they were told it was.

I will mull this over as I travel this week and would welcome your thoughts and comments. If you are a driver, is it a good job and would you tell your kids to do it? If you are a member of the public, how do you see us? If you are a person involved with our laws and or policing them, how do you see your role and how it affects us? Do all of you recognise what we contribute to your way of life and or what we give up in our lives, so you can enjoy yours. It has been said that the Australian economy used to ride on the back of the sheep, that was years ago.

A journalist said to me it now rides on the back of a truck, yet we seem to be maligned, tarred by the actions of the few and not recognised nor appreciated for the job we do, hence my questions to you. I would welcome your views. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

2nd September 18 Back in the land of OZ.

Goodaye all, it is good to be back home in this great southern land. It is hard to describe how I feel, elated from the trip, sorry it is over, good to be back with family, daunted by what is in front of me to make the trip worthwhile and get value, not only for the Churchill Trust who sponsored the study tour, but also for myself to try and make the time to follow up.

My report is now nearing 50 pages with many photos included, I have started emailing those I met and got business cards from, but that pile is tall and each has to be individual, at least that is my view. I could just draft a hello, good to have met you and thanks, but each had a different aim, intent or focus and if I do not recognise that and seek to gain the most value from each meeting, then I have possibly failed the chance to make the most from the trip.

Even now there are things I wish I could have done better, or arranged better, but the two things the Churchill people stress when you first discuss such a trip, is that you must leave time for the things that pop up unannounced and that you should not then miss and that you should also take some time for yourself to enjoy it, you do not have to work 24 hours a day. That will only burn you out and possibly leave you to miss, or not get the best, from something.

As I have said, I was aware of the Churchill Fellowships, having had people suggest it to me a few times over the last ten years. One of those had been a Churchill Fellow and suggested it could help with my road safety efforts, even then. Once I started down the path of the TIV though, I felt I had a commitment to those who had supported me as sponsors and that it would not be fair to then head off on a major trip. With this TIV prime mover now 7 years old and the trailers coming up ten and starting work on the next one, which I will commit to for five years, the timing seemed right.

I did not honestly expect to be successful and some I have spoken to say it is somewhat unusual to be successful in your first application, but there are probably not many truck drivers who have applied and that point of difference may have helped. About 1200 people a year apply with around 100 fellowships awarded. There are some with a specific focus, music, the arts, health or children for example and of course, there was one for road safety.

The application process is fairly rigorous with a written application, then two personal interviews and I was able to do the first by phone, with I think, 5 peers asking questions, though was told I could be at a disadvantage to others who turned up, but it was a lot to go from Dubbo to Sydney for a 15 minute interview with the costs involved, let alone the time off work. This one was about your knowledge and depth of immersion into your field of endeavour, but the second one was come to Sydney or fall out of the process and was more about your passion and had a table full of ten or more asking you questions about what you wanted to do, why, where you wanted to go and why.

Then you either progressed to the state finals or were passed over and then each state submitted their finalists and from that pool, the 106 chosen in 2016 were awarded Churchill Fellowships. With permission and in consultation with the Churchill Trust, I deferred for a year, both to give me more time and to co-ordinate the timing and what to do with the gap, between the Convoy in the Park in England and the Great American Truckshow in Dallas, my planned start and finish points.

Setting up things so far out and so far away when you have never done it before, can be a challenge, yes there are those who can help, but with trucks and road safety, to my knowledge it is something not very regularly put together and certainly, not in the eyes of the public. Churchill Fellowships are highly regarded in many fields and those who have gone before me and who will certainly follow, have achieved exceptional things, from defining education for children at a disadvantage, to improving the health of widespread and or specific groups, to outcomes in the arts and music unlikely without the extension that such a fellowship can provide.

I have said it already I know, but thanks to all from the Churchill Trust, the judges and to all others who applied and or have since completed their fellowships. If you have a passion and a knowledge of a subject and believe you can not only learn and extend that knowledge or value to all Australians, then please look at the Churchill Fellowships and consider applying. Or if you know someone that could benefit from such, suggest looking at it, to them.

I am off back to work now. Back in the truck I have spent the last 7 years of my life driving, primping, cleaning, showing at events and taking passengers in. I do not only drive, I load and unload my cargoes as well and whilst I might average 50 hours driving each week, there is the other time involved as well, let alone the shows and events. I normally leave home Sunday, as I will soon and will most likely return next Saturday, so my working week is 5 or 6 full days living and working in the truck.

IMG_2705You may well go to work and or work more hours and could well spend time driving to and from work, but how many of you live in and at, your work and then what is your quality of life there? Good facilities, kitchens and toilets and showers available, good food and company? I ask this not for you to feel anything for me, but to ask you to consider the lifestyle and the things an intestate truckie gives up, so you can have your food, clothes, fuel and your car. At Convoy in the Park, they had shirts that read “WITHOUT TRUCKS YOU WOULD BE COLD, NAKED AND HUNGRY” and I would simply ask that you consider this, till next we meet. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

26th August 2018. Heading Home.

Well today is the last day of my Churchill Fellowship trip. I am packing, or trying to jam stuff in my bags, ready to catch a Qantas flight home tonight. It has been an amazing experience, I have met many people with only two out of the whole trip, not welcoming, but they could have simply had a bad day. I have spoken with hundreds of drivers through to media and industry and government bodies and have a damn site more to do when I get home and start to follow up on those meetings and contacts.

I aim to immediately put in a submission to the FMCSA request for comment on their hours of service and will invite the current head to come to Australia and see how we do it. You have to aim high! I have dozens of books and magazines to read and go through for information, for further contacts and to simply get even more views. I travelled just over 6000 miles (9600 kilometres) across America and into Canada and whilst one fellow did ask, why aren’t you flying, I said being on the road is what I do and what better way to feel and understand it, as I preach to our authorities when I ask them to do a trip with me. I could possibly have used the driving time to keep my report up to date, as I am a week behind in it, though have my diary up to date, but still feel, driving best suited the aim and intent of the trip.

I would have loved to have done it in a truck, but that was a big ask for 5 weeks on the road and whilst I have been invited back by some for the future, the issue of a truck license, unless you move here to work, is still a major hurdle. Still, one thing at a time.
I spent an hour on the Road Dog Trucking channel on the satellite network coming into Dallas, explaining the trip and taking calls, including a Kiwi who wanted to tell me they will win the football again. At GATS, I did an interview with the lovely Marcia who does a midnight radio show and she was so friendly and effusive at the end, hugging me and saying she loved my passion and then also had an Aussie trucker, who now lives in Montana on a ranch and does a daytime driving job, invite me to stay and do a days run with him over the mountains if I ever get back here.

IMG_2605

The number of companies looking for drivers here is remarkable and there were dozens with trucks on show and or recruiting, but I had a number of drivers ask what I was doing. “Are you recruiting for drivers in Australia” or, “How can I come there and drive them roadtrains, I just want to have a go at that”. The truck show and shine had some beautiful trucks, there was an award for the Rookie Driver of the year and a final for the Talent search on stage, so many thing to see and do as part of the show.

IMG_2577

Tony Justice who is still a fulltime driver but also a well know musician here, did a concert on the Friday night that I attended and I arranged an interviewed with him on Saturday, along with a lady from the St Christopher Truckers Relief Fund group and a fellow from Trucker Buddy, a school penpal group that not only promotes the trucking industry and road safety, but in a way that young kids and teachers can use to improve their learning and for something to do in my spare time, I plan to get something going here in partnership with them, as they have the infrastructure and the people and knowledge to help me do it right.

 

Thank you to the Great American Truckshow and the organisers for their help in allowing me to attend and for the small stand I had to show my banners and to all I met with and or spoke to there.

Thank you to the Churchill Fellowship and its board and judges for the chance to do this trip, to my employer Rod Pilon Transport for the time and their support over 11 years now, to those who helped with contacts and suggestions and to all I have met on this wonderful adventure. I am looking forward to a few nights good sleep when I get home, as I did a few long nights (or long days and short nights) towards the end and the best part of the trip, was no bloody logbook or alarm clock.

My complete report will likely be 30 plus pages, my photo count is over 2000, video of many hours and stories and lovely people I will remember for years to come. I have just rang Bruce Outridge from Toronto thanking him for his hospitality, done an interview with Stan from Trucker Radio, earlier did a catch up with Luke on the “Nighshift” radio show back home in Australia and am now gearing up and looking forward to many hugs and kisses with my children and grandchildren, when I get home.

They have been very supportive of all my efforts in trucks and road safety and whilst it is the worst part of this job, the time we spend away from them, doing what I do, shows, events and the time to put in submissions and trips such as this, few outside our industry recognise that cost and impact on a truckies family and I fear few others care, but that is the way of the world. I love my family dearly and one day hope to make up to them the time I have put into this hobby or passion, or both.

I love what I do, I love my family and my job, but I still hope to get the next TRUCKRIGHT Vehicle up and running and will commit to it for the next 5 years and that will be my next push on returning. There is nothing like the TIV anywhere I have been and I wish I could have brought it with me to show off what we do and how we do it.

I did visit the Iowa 80 truckstop, the biggest in the world and their museum and there is a truck there, that went over the Europe and did a tour some years ago and was recently donated to the museum when the owner retired. Anyone with suggestions and or offers to help with the next TIV will be warmly welcomed.

So now to sort the luggage issue, a shower and to the airport. Thanks again to all who have helped in any way and to my family, I love and have missed you all dearly and can’t wait to be home. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.