7th June 2020 Home, away again.

Goodaye all. I am currently on my 24 hour plus break at the BP Truckstop Duaringa, between Emerald and Rockhampton. A fairly busy week with many changes along the way. Thursday, “Should I rush, no, then, plans have changed, hurry up. Then again, a big (you are loading for Emerald surprise) so now plenty of time again. Then, me, hang on, if I don’t get unloaded Saturday, to be perfectly legal I can’t unload Sunday with the receiving hours, so I better get my finger out.

Damn green reflectors would not stick on in the morning cold (and I missed a terrific photo with the brilliant full moon descending over the TIV, should of gone back straight away!!!) but got unloaded in good time, then decided to have my 24 hour break here. Not the most glamorous of places, but can fuel, get feed, have shower etc and plenty of parking so can be well out of the way of others.

Had some cool nights during the week with the doona on, last night got warm here and heard another bloke hit his Icepack so thought, me too. Strange noise so turned it off and this morning found a stone jammed in the side grille. Took some swearing, but luckily no finger or hand damage to crack a couple of bits off and then flick it out. Thanks to my brother in law (who stopped in to say Goodaye on his break) for the help.

Rearranged the tool boxes, turned all my hand winches so they have the teeth on the inside when attached. With the teeth on the outside, due to a low turntable height, they can rip into your guards and I still have the original ones since new, 9 years old next month on the truck and 12 years on the trailer. Bought a lighter so I could fix the end of some straps, do audiobooks and this and next to refit the grille screen that the pint didn’t dry on last week end away.

Getting a few good photos here, the A B-triple combination very popular. Mine too dirty, so will clean the floors and mats etc, catch up on reading and my diary and set up to go into Rocky tonight for pick up in the morning. Got a couple more calls on the way up saying “Are you lost or what are you doing up here, but they enjoy the spot on the radio. Thanks to all who do, for listening.

Our roads? Last week-end away I rang the TMT Road Report number 131940. After much frustration with the voice service which cannot seem to understand with the higher noise of a truck, like many phone voice services, I was eventually put through to a bloke in Maroochydore, who of course knows little of Central Qld. I complained about the service and the frustration of asking for an operator, only to be given a list of problems in Townsville, then detailed some issues on the Gregory Highway.

Seeing I was heading that way again, I sought Googles help to access TMR Emerald, so it took me to the corporate switchboard. Some more round and round, but eventually I got onto a fellow who took my complaints with the service seriously. Few call now and far less will, if the system simply does not understand what you want and you get messed around for 5 minutes trying to get to talk to someone. Then if they aren’t truck friendly, they may not understand the issue.

I was then passed onto the Rockhampton office, for this area and again, detailed the issues which it seemed so far, mate from the beach had not passed on. Both these people were professional and interested and I do hope we will get somethings improved, including not leaving 60 zones up when no pone and no work actually happening on the highway.

Another interesting chat with TMR re work at Yelarbon. Been trying to get 400 metres fixed for five years now. They have done a patch 200m away and not the problem bit. That call was not as friendly, though I recognise it is not the fault of the person on the other end, but 5 years and then do a bit 200m away and then move off elsewhere. I did thank them for the really bad, 2.3G hit at 13.2 k south of Yelarbon just before the northbound parking spot.

Then RMS, again started well, calling Rod to go through your list. That’s good, thanks. First item, severely subsided culvert, worse in the last month all of a sudden, we might get to that in September. I don’t think that is good enough, it is dangerous and of a truck has a crash because of it, I will tell then you knew and did nothing. (On my way north later that week Rough Surface and Reduce speed signs were being put up and I hope an early repair will follow).

Next issue the closing of Tomingley Rest area, will be closed till June as it is a hazard during toilet construction. To that I say “Poppycock”, though not to her, but a driver expecting it open will be stuck on the side of the road for 7 hours because of the Safetcam site immediately after and I have raised this before. She is looking into it and so we did not progress any further on the long list. But a thank you for the repair being done on Doctors Creek Bridge in Narrabri, one I have complained about and they have had a few goes at patching, was being done seriously late last week.

So much time trying to get roads fixed, much frustration, but some action, though much further effort required. I hope many of you may have read the story in Owner Driver about road funding and how big the backlog is. We all know and have to deal with it. It is about time our workplace was much safer. You and I can do so much, but the authorities must do much more in roadwork and help educate new drivers about sharing then road with trucks and so far, I would fail them on both. What score would you give them out of ten? Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

31st June 2020. Two weeks away.

Goodaye all. Having gone to Corowa Sunday afternoon two weeks ago tomorrow, unloaded Monday morning by driving across the road and backing the b-double in, then loaded out of Melbourne. Got the truck washed at King of the Road, thanks gents job well done, then via Dubbo for a service and through to Mungindi late Tuesday night, did my spot on Nighshift then to bed.

Unloading Wednesday morning, it rained as I unloaded, terrific, told to stay off the dirt in the rain, so a slightly longer trip into Brisbane, loaded for Bellata, just there in time that night for logbook, but much more rain, then loading out of Tamworth Thursday for Newcastle said, “Whats’ next”, told maybe a load for Melbourne, mmm not what I had planned. Said, well you better get it organised so I can load tonight with much tongue in cheek. Never heard anymore, unloaded late Thursday night, then to Beresfield for a shower and some cheap left-over chips and to bed.

Thought, if I had not heard from anyone by 8 would ring. Rang at 8 Friday morning and asked, “Whats’ going on?”. “Well, I’m sitting here waiting for someone to tell me whats’ going on”. Ah, well we are waiting for an answer on another truck, but if its’ not ready, you will be loading for Mackay. A bit later called and told, Mackay it is.

Had an incident late Saturday night, vehicle approaching did not dip their lights when I did at about 2k, I then put them back up around 1k, no dip, no flash, then around 500m I flashed a few times as there had been no flash back to say “this is low” or such and I was getting worried they may be asleep, then I left mine on low thinking, OK don’t want to blind them as they pass. But what happened was I got a bottle into the windscreen.

Luckily it was only plastic, though it still had water in it and was doing 200k when it hit. I had a small star in the screen and it spread it across my side. Having passed the Police at the border at Mungindi, I rang Triple 0. I lodged a complaint and it was the NSW copper who I spoke with and then rang me back when they stopped the bloke at the border. He said it happened in Qld, he had passed the details on and I would hear from Qld Police next week. The driver admitted throwing the bottle, said he was sorry, but was not really contrite according to the copper.

Qld Police did follow up, said it is a serious offence, the throwing, even if only a plastic bottle. I have spoken with Pilons and they have agreed to use it as a safety discussion and I have spoken of it on Nightshift last week. The other vehicle was a RAM ute with a large tri axle horse float on the back, so it may have been the load and or the float that lifted the lights and from another I have seen, they have those eyeball lights, which once up a bit, are very bright. I have them in the low beam, but trucks have self levelling lights where Ram utes don’t. The other driver said he had flashed me back to the NSW copper, but told the QLD one he had not flashed me. My understanding is that you can’t fit these bright white blinding headlights unless you have self levelling suspension and I am sure many of you have been blinded by those who have either bought them aftermarket and or load up the back of the ute and blind all in their path all night. We must find a solution to this.

Got to north of St George (back through Mungindi again) to bed and made it to Mackay late Saturday night. 37 hours till I could unload, truck filthy, so walked up to Bunnings and got insect screen and paint. It did not dry and hope to fit tomorrow morn. Walked down to Woolies for supplies and back to reading.
I started the Rangers Apprentice series and have finished it, mostly on audio books, but thanks to another driver, now have the books of the Brotherband series to carry on with and finished the first, caught up on paperwork etc.
Unload Monday morning, gave a copy of Owner Driver in exchange for a cuppa, thanks. Down to Gympie, (a GPS fail I will have to send another email about now) to load the next morning for Melbourne. Many many straps, chains, many tightenings, thanks to the next driver for a hand to finish off, and away to Melbourne. Some new tyres in Dubbo on the way through, tea at the Tiger Moth Inn in Temora and into Tullamarine for early morning. Lots of straps and chains to get off, then loaded back out of there Thursday, quite a saga.

Stopped at gate, what are you here for, load to Brisbane. OK, wait here will be door one or two, back soon. He came back and asked, OK can you back into door two? Turn it round so you can head back out the gate to back into the door, a bit offset, got in, you did that well, thanks. I had said at the gate, it is a mezz floor load, was then asked are your floors down, yes, then that will be fine. Mmmmm, ok then.

Same bloke, you work for them, Rod Pilon Transport on the door, yes, OK. I asked again about the mezz floor load and the name of the customer, and mate says, Oh sorry, they are next door, good practice for you. Thanks, walk next door, even tighter to turn around so I can load and said, “Hello to empty warehouse” “Yes?” “I’m here for a mezz floor load for Brisbane. “No, that’s for tomorrow”. Not on my paperwork. I ‘ll make a call. Yes, since you are here, we will load you now.
What about the mezz floors? No boss away so we can’t move them and we can double stack the pallets. I got the load as I was the only truck with mezz floors! 68 pallets, to the yard for fuel and a shower, and back for another truckwash.

Sorry it’s so dirty, well that’s what you come her for isn’t it. True, thanks and another top wash done. Up the road, to bed and back into Dubbo where I fitted some new mudflaps and hair on my skirts (this will make some of you think a bit, but if you look at a photo of the truck, you might understand, otherwise I will explain next week). So lots to catch up with.

I did ring TMR Qld and put in a complaint about the bridge before Grateful Ponds Creek and about three lots of unmanned yet still signposted roadworks and still have to follow that up. I also put in a complaint to RMS, now my third on this and will be another email now, about a dropped culvert 20k south of Forbes on the Newell. It is a failure and yet still untouched. (Email done).

I am now taking part in our monthly NRFA Board meeting and have to finish all the rest before leaving for Brisbane. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

17th May 2020 NHVR Owner Driver Mtg

Goodaye all. Thanks to the ABC for the Landline story last week, it was a positive story for us, one of few we get unfortunately. Thanks to the others who took part in the show, drivers and roadhouse staff as well as Senator Glen Sterle. If you agree, you can like and share from my Facebook page.

Thursday I did a trip to Sydney as a single for a change, stopping on the way home Friday , first at Mt White for a chat, gave them a copy of Owner Driver, then to do a prerecord for ABC Wagga following the Landline piece and stopped again, (I only had to be home to unload Saturday) to take part in the first NHVR Stakeholder Engagement Zoom meeting for Owner Drivers. I was invited, though of course, not an owner driver but I have a long history with NHVR and like all things, you can sit and whinge, or you can do your best to take part and get the best outcome and they generally give me at the very least, a good listen.

There are those who are very critical of the NHVR and I recognise that no one can be all things to all people and even those at NHVR will agree, that some of the things they have done have not worked as perfectly as we all would like. But I do commend them for starting this idea of direct contact with those on the road. Yes, it did tell us what they have done and then asked what issues we are having on the road.

No one had any specific issues with crossing borders, though the new SA requirements were discussed and two of the female drivers raised the issue of their privacy, let alone their safety (my addition) in having to give out addresses and phone numbers to any who they spend time with. It was suggested by one, what if an old fellow goes to a checkout and spending time in the que, then says to the young lady check out chick, you have to give me your phone number and address? His time explaining to the Police will then give him a need for more names and addresses!!!!!!!!!

One issue raised was the visiting of roadhouses, specifically in Melbourne, by NHVR Officers and also Police at times. I did follow up and have asked why they need to prowl servos and that we can and do, see it as harassment. Have any of you had issues being woken by any enforcement officer recently? It is illegal for them to do so, (unless you are parked illegally and they have to move you on for your own and others safety and this is another topic) and if it happens, you should ask for their name and then report them to their superiors.

Many complaints were raised about local drivers taking over parking, but the NHVR has no authority and it is a problem in many places and many ways and something our associations should be tackling at a state and national level. They are far more likely to have access to major chain CEOs than any of us and it is something they have done little about from where I sit. I would welcome them proving me wrong.

I said in the meeting and have tweeted since, drivers need more knowledge on what the NHVR can and cannot do, to focus on what they can do, but I have been pushing for some years toward the future and hope they will have more influence in some of these areas, specifically rest areas.

Without sounding like a broken record, we must have a National Road Standard and repair standard for the roads which are our workplace which the government still refuse to recognise and we must have a National Rest Area Strategy. We cannot simply get one here and one there and have the government say, now manage your fatigue. They all have access to toilets and five star accommodation, we don’t want or need five star, but we need suitable and sufficient places for us to manage our fatigue and we don’t have enough yet.

Once this virus is sorted, I will be seeking some passengers in the TIV for a trip and Senator Glen Sterle will be the first and I hope will be followed by others. The previous CEO and Commissioner of the NTC, Paul Retter AM did a trip with me and said it was very worthwhile. All who do a trip are asked to respond to a questionnaire after the trip and this is Paul’s reply.
Rod

Thanks for the opportunity to discuss a range of issues while travelling with you last Friday. I found the experience to be both practical and informative.
In your handout for Truck Right Riders you ask a series of questions. I have attempted to answer them and the various issues we discussed on the road below:

• Name, date, trip completed – Paul Retter (CEO NTC) , 30 May 14, Melbourne to Dubbo (8.00am to 7.45pm)
• Have you ever ridden in a large truck before? – yes, in my career as an Army officer I had the opportunity to travel in large trucks on a number of occasions, however the ride in the Truckright Industry Vehicle (TIV) on 30 May 2014 was my first ride in a commercial heavy vehicle (a B Double) since I left the military in 2006.
• What were your first impressions of the ride of the vehicle? – I was surprised at the effects of the road condition on the ride in the vehicle and the way in which cracks, dips or pot holes in the road surface are transferred into the cabin of the prime mover.
• Were you previously aware of the technology in or the cost of large trucks? I was aware of the various sorts of technology available for heavy vehicles and the capital outlay and operating costs associated with owning and operating a heavy vehicle. Many of these technologies in the TIV cab play a key role in improving both safety and productivity outcomes for the heavy vehicle driver and fleet operators. I would encourage heavy vehicle operators to consider the installation of in-vehicle technology from both a commercial and safety perspective. See the attached handout.
• Has the trip changed your perceptions of trucks on the road and if so, how? I would not say that my trip last Friday has changed my overall perceptions of trucks, what it has done is reinforce the need for Governments. Road agencies, NHVR, NTC and the trucking/logistics industry to discuss how we optimise our road networks in terms of desired service levels (road condition) including rest areas locations, their capacity and design standards. It has also reinforced the need for a more comprehensive road safety initiative related to increased training and awareness of the characteristics of heavy vehicles and the need to share the road with all road users. Your Truckies Top Ten Tips are a great start point.
• Would you like to make a comment towards the intent of the TIV or suggestions for other riders or events? I suggest other NTC staff may benefit from a ride with you and will discuss this further with you and staff in NTC. I think the TIV is a great initiative however to optimise its impact the vehicle needs to be visiting more locations more often – your idea of having 2 weeks a month to focus on TIV related activities will only be achieved if such a move is seen as cost effective by industry and governments. I think you need to look carefully at a cost benefit analysis of what you are proposing in terms of the road safety and heavy vehicle better awareness related benefits.
• Would you please give your overall comments on your trip in the TIV that can be used for any publicity reports? I am a fan of the TIV and would encourage its use as a mechanisms to further improve road safety outcomes in Australia by improving awareness of heavy vehicle characteristics and reinforcing the need for all users of the road to be both tolerant of and take extra care when sharing the road with heavy vehicles. Your Truckies Top Ten Tips are a great start point and should be publicised more widely.
• Other Matters? Your comments on the need for better operating systems at distribution centres and awareness of the impacts of loading/unloading delays on drivers is acknowledged. WE need to do more in educating non drivers within the supply chain on these matters as part of any future enhancements to Chain of Responsibility legislation and guidance material. Regards

Paul was a fan of the TIV and my efforts with it and I can only hope to get others to see and understand and then act for us, as until then, few understand our issues and unfortunately, even less care. Everybody just wants their stuff and they want it now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have never had a negative reply or comment from the many who have done trips with me, but as an employed driver, it is not up to me where and when the truck works and I must do my part for the company I work for and do my best to try and fit the other stuff in too. Rod Pilon Transport have been very supportive for many years, but unless you have a committed run, it can be challenging to set up a trip with someone else who has serious time constraints.

A previous rider from the NTC rang me and said, “I will do a trip with you from Melbourne to Albury”. I said “Sorry, travelling only up the Hume will not give you any idea of life on the road and unless you come through to Dubbo, there will be no trip.” He was of course a bit taken aback by this, but then committed to the trip in his own time, but the NTC did pay him for it.

I was then approached by a member of the NRFA at the Melbourne Truckshow, him saying, “Well done.” “What did I do?” I asked. That fellow from the NTC had been at a previous industry meeting and was another bureaucrat, but at the next meeting he had attended, he spoke of doing the trip and did a 180 degree turn around in his views. I later rang the NTC gentleman in question and spoke of the comment. He thought about it and said he had not been aware of the change, but on reflection both agreed and gave me permission to write about it at the time.

If you can help change things for the better in the road transport industry and will make the effort, contact me for a trip, but you will be held to account. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

10th May 2020 Happy Mothers Day.

Goodaye all. HAPPY MOTHERS DAY TO THOSE SPECIAL WOMEN WHO LOOK AFTER US FROM BIRTH TO DEATH. Some do all the way, some for many years and sadly, some for but a few, but without them carrying us into this life, we would not be here.

Very short this week, late start, four legs, home yesterday and off this afternoon following my 24 hour required break. I am missing chatting with my mate Chris Harmer on the road, I hope many of you saw his story, “Mr Positive” filmed by Whiteline Television and if not, have a look at http://www.truckingnation.com.au I have known Chris for a long time and he used to ring me when on the road, so we often spoke two or three times a week. Sometimes a quick catch up, other times for hours. He is fighting on with his health battle and I wish him and his family all the help and prayers to achieve a win, but I miss hearing from him.

I got a message from a driver who said he saw me on ABC TV in the Philippines yesterday and I am told the pieces filmed about life on the road during the virus will be on ABC Landline at 12.30 today.

There have been many comments that our moment in the sun for the recognition of the job will do, will be instantly forgotten when all this ends and people will again simply expect everything to be available when they want it. I have tried for many years to show a positive side to our industry and yet of course, when things like the crashes in Melbourne and others happen, we go backwards.

Then of course there are those amongst us, who it seems don’t think about what they do and how they are seen by their actions on the road and elsewhere, for example in social media. All the good work of the few is too often overwhelmed and or overshadowed, by the thoughtless and or occasionally stupid actions, of the other few.

Such is life, get over it, grow up etc, you may say. All common suggestions, but we can try and improve things, we can sit back and watch and let others try, or we can make an effort. If the Mothers of this world can do such marvellous things as give birth to us all, then surely they deserve to have us make an effort to make things better as much as we can. The next time you want to do what you know to be the wrong thing, think about another saying, “Would your Mother be proud of what you are doing?” and if that doesn’t make you think, then I don’t know what will. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

4th May 2020 A week-end off ???

Goodaye all, got home Friday with a plan to have work started on the truck, some suspension, cab and engine bushes found during service last week need replacing and hoped to get a start then, but other trucks got in first, so did some curtain strap replacements, searched and found and cleaned a mudflap to replace a missing one, found a mudflap bracket and messed around before home.

Having a problem with downloaded audio books, so rang the library on the way home and have a plan to try and sort that, then made a plan to have a week-end off, sort of. Wrote a piece for two truckstop sites, photos and commented on good showers and meals at Fisher Park, (highly recommend rissoles and gravy and salad and chips) then other sites with clean showers etc, did emails, answered friend requests, many mentioning spot on Nightshift, sent videos (with help from youngest son) to ABC, completed a draft for my AFM application, did audiobooks for the road piece, wrote a draft for NRFA on getting roads and rest areas fixed in the future, responded to Vicroads, sent a list to Kenworth for improvements, then spent near two hours on the phone this morning for a NRFA board meeting, did shopping for work, so did not touch truck, but sort off time off driving at least and now have plan for truck to be finished Tuesday, then back to work. Probably missed some other advocacy bits in there somewhere. Glad I had a break from it all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Then following board meeting read a long piece on driver health and issues etc. The most dangerous industry in Australia, 13 times more likely to be killed and injured, highest rate of suicide, at risk of many chronic health conditions due to the factors involved in the job, it just goes on and on with the bad news.
On the good side and in an attempt to improve things, my friend and colleague, Mr Stephen McCarthy from Whiteline Television, released the first three in a series of videos, “Road Life” relating to improving driver health and they got good comments and I hope they are well received and help some of us with some of the issues we all face. There are more to come and I would welcome your views and you sharing them with others.

Monday, list completed for truck and trailers, delivered truck and wait for news. Hoping to get much of it done, news I will be loading in the morning, maybe back to the yard for some more little bits. I have greaseless turntables and so if I have to use another truck, it can take me an hour to clean the skidplate from underneath with diesel, so don’t do it unless absolutely necessary. Had a brake fault light come up on the way home Friday, a subsystem issue, not the actual brakes and got a call late this afternoon saying they have found the problem, a loose plug for the EBS, so hopefully all sorted now.

Tried to sort a problem with downloaded books on my USB drive, got frustrated and don’t think I have sorted it yet, but we will keep on trying. Off to Melbourne tomorrow, hopefully into town late enough to do my spot on Nightshift with Luke and then to bed. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

26th April 2020 “Lest we forget”

Goodaye all. “Lest we forget”. This virus has killed people and changed our way of lives, yet it has not and never will, kill the Aussie spirit. I hope each of you had the chance to reflect, watch the local driveway service or simply remember those who gave so much, so we can live the life we do now.

Thanks to those who shared last weeks video, I might try and do it once a month, sorry about the bike and plane noise, can’t control everything. Had a slightly slower week with the later start on Monday, got held over and delayed with deliveries a few times during the week, but home to say hello, catch up and off to Melbourne this afternoon. Did a podcast for a fellow after getting out of the truck yesterday afternoon, following him seeing the video, and also did some filming for a piece for ABC TV during the week and will let you know how and when that airs. This follows on from an online piece for ABC (which I am told reached 100,000 people) about being on the road now with the virus etc and as always, thanks to Rod Pilon Transport for working in and allowing filming in the Dubbo yard. Did a similar piece for ABC Dubbo radio after filming and have another booked for next week for the wider region.

Tuesday traffic was gridlocked in Melbourne due to the crash on the Princess Hwy, a fatality where according to the news on the day, a car was hit and shunted into the path of two truck and dog combinations and the car driver died. Then of course the horrific crash in Melbourne with the four Police being killed. Nothing can change what happened and I feel for all involved and hope something like that never happens again.

None of us go to work to die or be involved in such a tragedy. Not matter how many factors contributed and all the what ifs you can imagine, won’t bring those people back, but we must find a way to lessen the chance of such a thing happening and the risks with any job as much as we can. I do hope we will learn what caused it in the future, so to try and prevent it happening again.

It was noted in another industry piece I saw, that there was little of the “truck Crash” commentary on either incident and the comment was made perhaps the press attitude had been mollified with us now being seen by more as essential. Let’s hope this continues.

We still have to do our part, we have to behave professionally, drive for those who simply don’t understand trucks on the road, too often because they were never taught to do so. I am very disappointed that not one of the state road authorities were interested in using our Truckies Top Tips videos as part of the testing for young drivers.

Unless you have family and or have been in a truck for a trip, many have the view we are all bad, push people off the road etc, because that is all they ever hear or are told. I have said for many years that unfortunately people only see the truck that does the wrong thing (and then they will tell everyone about the bad truckie), they don’t see all the rest of the trucks simply doing their job and delivering everything you use.

With so few cars on the road, I see they are saying pollution is dropping, it is a pity all the roadside rubbish isn’t just disappearing as well. It is criminal and basically bloody laziness for people to buy food and drinks, travel down the road and simply throw their rubbish out the window. I have a small bin in the truck, which holds all my rubbish till I get to a depot or truckstop so I can put it in the bin. I don’t buy cans or bottles of drink, too much waste and carry water and diet cordial along with milk for cereal in my frig, so less to carry till I can dispose of.

How many of you do the right thing and how can we change this for those who don’t? When I have to stop and walk along the road to check on green reflector bays, it is terrible the amount of rubbish on the roadside and much of it within a drink or snack from a town. Surely all can have a bag or box for rubbish and do the right thing. Any suggestions and solutions for this problem, will be welcome. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

19th April 2020. Lets try a video.

Goodaye all. I am very concerned with our roads now, the way they are not being repaired properly, the cost to the country and our industry being blamed and charged, yet not being involved. This week-end I will be emailing three states about roads and conditions and failures. One for lousy work on current repairs, one for bad practices and lousy repairs, the other for dangerous sections and the fact that they have wasted hundreds of thousands on bad repairs.

For something a little bit different, I will attach a video for your comments, support and further distribution if you agree with its content. I have had people out of the blue ring me and say, we have to get the public on board, now when we are being recognised and seen as essential etc. Please click the link to watch the video. Thanks to my daughter Kaiya for the camera work and daughter Katie for back up.

We must of course be careful, many people are out of work, some truckies and companies are struggling as well and we have a long way to go to arrest this virus and try and return to what we all hope we be closer to our normal way of life, but I am sure you will agree, that may not happen. We will see where it all goes, but we truckies we keep on truckin’ and delivering Australia. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

12th April Happy Easter to you all.

Goodaye all. Off to Toowoomba last Sunday afternoon, had a glitch nearing Wellcamp and thought I was imagining it, maybe. Unloaded next morning, left for Dalby to do a pick-up to feel a miss but not a miss, as if it was turning on and off, rather than not running smoothly. Got permission to go back to Brown and Hurley Toowoomba, rang them and explained the problem and codes and arrange a time. They are running two separate but shorter shifts with cleaning between, second shift got me to drop the trailers and went to work.

Thinking it was hopefully simply electrical (and they said initially should be a few hours) first check-up, yes found and fixing, good soon. Second check-up, now have another problem, red check engine light on. Third check-up and now worrying about time to complete and where I was going to stay, told they needed a plug, (a previous repair at Roma had done a roadside repair that had held, but was affected by work on first problem) could not get the part number and so then not the part and getting one now not likely, so rang our depot.

Then, “we can try and get it going so I could park outside to go to bed and then complete in the morning”, whilst on the phone to Brissie depot, no leave it there, fix it properly in the morning and they would come and get me. They tried a couple of motels, no answer with the virus perhaps, waiting at the gate to be asked where I was going and then offered a lift to meet my bloke half-way, yes thanks. There are still some good if older truckies about. Thanks Daz.

In Brisbane depot late in the evening, helped load a set of trailers with the load I had been due to take, so another driver could quick hitch, then taken back to the supervisors place for a shower and better bed than at work. Thanks David. Up in the morning, to the depot, do a bit of cleaning up, a pick-up for another truck, then back to Toowoomba. Plan then was to load in Brissie following morning, but then told I was needed in Dubbo for another load to Melbourne next day. All good, back to Brissie yard, loaded up and off to Fisher Park for tea, then onto Narrabri.

Quick stop for Triple M Nighshift spot just before I got there, went well (and got a call from a driver Friday saying I had nailed the issue of car speedos reading slow and he had only recently spoken with a car driver whose partner following had given him the finger after overtaking).

Forgot to change the time on the bunk clock from Daylight saving, got up unbuckled and unstrapped, had breakfast and thinking, hmm, they are late today, only to check watch to find it is still only 7AM. Damn, not going back to bed now, catch up on some paperwork and my diary. Unload, back to Dubbo with a plan to be loaded in the depot, change of plan, unload and go and load and then back to yard, top up and go. Off to Temora, tea from my mate at the Tiger Moth Inn, rang ahead and ate in the truck. Not a designated truckstop or driver lounge, so can’t eat inside. Down the road and planned a kip, overslept, so bugger it, make it my 7 hour break and back to sleep.

Still don’t have a load out of Melbourne yet, do delivery, get a call, got a load from Bayswater, don’t go there till 3PM. Ok, back in yard, have lunch, chat with another driver about the old Hume and arrange him to start writing a list of names of places and why named such for the future, then Ah, we need a part for another truck, from Bayswater, so I better get going so I can pick it up.

Luckily close to loading point, in and explain issue with part, yes you can drop your trailers here and we will wait for you. Thanks, won’t be long and much easier to get part bobtail, just a bit harder to get it in the cab.
Back to pick up trailers to put in to load, had to drop to load, their rules and then some minor things we each wanted to do differently, but in the end all sorted and out the slide, pulling up at Springhurst parking bay and to bed Thursday night.

Had a decent sleep and off to Dubbo for a break, did a radio spot with ABC Wagga Saturday as I would normally have been at “The Stone the Crows Festival” talking to vanners about sharing the road with trucks, and tomorrow to Brissie for Tuesday. Drop trailers, them home, change the sheets and clean the frig out in the truck and then catch up with all this stuff too including audio books review and Owner Driver column. No rest for the wicked. Happy Easter to you all, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

5th April 2020 Food and behaviour.

Goodaye all. Another big week on the road, less traffic so very quiet and lonely at times, a welcome return to being able to eat in a roadhouse, subject of course to guidelines etc, though some roadhouses still to be aware. My favourite café in Temora, who of course could not let me eat there under the current rules (and I did ring ahead as normal), made my meal and even brought it out to me to eat in the truck. Still not as good as sitting down to a meal, but one stop gap measure when you have no other alternative.

Some places still refusing us use of a toilet, this must cease, we are not dogs and should not be treated like one. Would these places prefer we just pee in their yard or just squat in their driveway? We are told we must drink more and not let our throats dry out, we were being forced to eat just take-away and that can have effects other than just bad health overtime, yet we are being denied use of toilets.

If we act sensibly and people either have someone cleaning properly, or provide sanitary wipes or products for each user, then most will use them and act accordingly. If neither is done, then we will still have the problem of nothing available for others and or extending the life of the outbreak.

I did participate in the Truckies Hour program in the “Conversations” slot at 11AM on ABC Melbourne on Friday. It was good to have them recognise truckies, seek comment and along with Geoff Crouch from the ATA, the callers each raised valid points and I think we got a good story out. I then got a call from a driver I had met years earlier, who said he had been listening and who then thanked me for my efforts and said he agreed with all I had said.

The ABC also gave me some exposure from another story, done as a phone interview, which covers some of the same issues and ends with a call for more rest areas and facilities in the future.

On the other side of this, was the terrible behaviour of a couple of drivers who went berko when told they could not sit down for a meal. One roadhouse I spoke with, said they could not act till their management passed down the instruction and this is fair, considering the exemption was only announced the night before. Yes we are all a bit tense and frustrated, but taking it out on those who normally serve us well, when they too have bosses and regulations to comply with, will only see things get worse.

I stopped at the BP at Goondiwindi and they have a sign up saying they have employed a cleaner, you go in the shower, come out and give the key to the cleaner and they clean it for the next bloke. I asked the fellow at the console, had anyone said thank you and he said, no, I was the first and I didn’t even have a shower then.

In the piece on ABC Melbourne, both I and others did say we often feel unrecognised, but we have to be thankful to those who help us. It will not cost you more than a few seconds, no money and no pain, to say thank you when someone else helps and or provides good service and as you must all agree, that will normally be welcomed and then see that person likely to help you again in the future.

Perhaps we too have become complacent, but I fail to see why we cannot be human, respectful and polite. If you are treated badly, you will behave badly, or you can break the chain of bad behaviour, by being friendly, thankful of good service and being above the idiots. We can either be the professionals, the knights of the road, or we can be the idiots that all too often we are tarnished with being. I try, even as per my efforts here, will you try too, please?

I want to congratulate the ATA for “TRUCKSAFE” winning both the Corporate Fleet Safety and the founders award as overall winner in the 9th Annual Australian Road Safety Awards. It is industry owned and operated, I do think it has helped change some of the culture and whilst nothing is perfect, it is up to those involved and participating to do it right. Even if you only look at the need for driver medicals, that alone has possibly saved lives and improved the health of drivers, knowing too few of us will go to a doctor unless we are dying. The other parts of TRUCKSAFE and you can’t cherry pick and only do some bits and not others, all go some way to providing a good base system if you don’t have one of your own and can help you lift the bar and hopefully industry standards generally.

Another issue has been those who travel in their caravans with no home, doing the fruit picking and living the life on the road, may now have nowhere to go for the duration of this virus. It was highlighted late Friday on another ABC Melbourne program when a fellow rang in, saying he could not get an answer from anyone as to what he should do. The announcer Raph, did say he would try and get an answer and some rang in offering the fellow somewhere to stay. But there are many more and I have still seen many vans on the road, some perhaps still heading home if they have one. All I ask if they continue to roam, is to make sure they think of us if they have to stop in a rest area.

We have a long way to go to get through this, it will not be over in a month and some effects will last for years. Those involved in trucking, I know you will mostly do your best. Those on the outside, have you thought more of the truckies still working or has it not reached your thoughts yet? Please let me know what you think either way. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

29th March 2020 A viral time.

Goodaye all. Life on the road was never as good as it has been portrayed. Now whilst many truckies are still working to keep the wheels of industry turning, we have been thrown out the door with some issues. I recognise the issues with the virus and social distancing, but the closure of showers and every roadhouse eating area, must be seen to have been short sighted for those of us who live on the road. It is an issue with keeping showers clean, but not impossible, though again, we have to do our part. Some sites have made an effort and we have to recognise that and tell them, it won’t hurt you to say thanks, will it? And then we may well get better outcomes.

I did stop for a shower at one place during the week and will NEVER go there again. It is a company branded site and the showers were a disgrace, looking like they haven’t been cleaned in weeks with mould growing in the corners. I will be contacting the parent company after finishing this.

We need to be able to get out of the truck to sit down and eat. We need good healthy food and not only will eating take-away for weeks on end not help, we simply don’t have access to supermarkets in a b-double. I can only park with-in co-ee of two places on the Newell Highway from Melbourne to Brisbane. Many blokes are self-sufficient, some do their own cooking, but not all have the time,or the capacity within their truck to do so. I carry milk and cereals, some tinned meals etc, but we all need to be able to sit down and eat, let alone have a break out of the truck.

I believe the union, Glen Sterle and others, including members of the National Road Freighters Assoc, have been pushing for change and my understanding, having just spent an hour on the phone for the monthly NRFA board meeting hook-up, there should be an announcement allowing us a place to eat, due this week. We all recognise many have lost their jobs, there are bigger issues than just us, all we are asking is for some recognition of needs of living on the road.

I do hope with the less traffic on the road, there will be less crashes and perhaps, if we all then just thought a bit and rushed a bit less, we may even save some lives.

I have to do a few other things now before leaving for Melbourne, one of which is to contact the fuel chain responsible for that roadhouse and I will let you know what response I get. Please be safe, please do what you can to help others and I will do my best to help my fellow road travellers. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.