6th February 2021

Goodaye all, a short note for this week after the long WA trip instalments. Thanks to all who commented and said they enjoyed it. The workshop found the shifter for the AMT was producing the codes, not the harness and I thought I was getting another day off and whilst they had a new one picked up out of Melbourne, I ended up going down in another truck, supposedly as passenger but ended up driving (thanks for tea and lunch Jack) and picking another one up, to go back to Dubbo.

Back in mine Wednesday, took part in the “Stop the Bridge” convoy in Dubbo with the long term aim to procure a by-pass for Dubbo, instead of a bridge that is said will stop flooding of the Newell, but from all accounts won’t, so why have something that will not provide a solution.

I got a call on the way home from WA from a mechanic in Bundaberg who asked me about suzi coils. He said he had been called out to a crash where the suzi coil had been pinched and the trailer brakes had failed. He then asked a number of drivers and 8 out of ten did not really know what the suzi coil lines did and I find that a bit scary.

Years ago I had another tow truck operator contact me following major crash involving a fuel tanker and it was found the push/pull air connections had failed. Now I have certainly seen suzi coils rubbing on checkerplate and they can be damaged when pulled too far or get caught when going round corners, but when you think about it, how often are they checked, unless they fail or you hear an air leak and now with many trucks fitted with park brake alarms, you can’t check the trailer brakes for air leaks without the horn blaring.

Have any of you had either of these problems, are you even aware of the issue and will you check your suzi coils and the air connections, next time you hook up?  Normally you will know when the connections are getting worn, they will feel loose and or leak, but you can only check when air is applied.  To link the two problems, the Bundaberg fellow has twice now, when explaining the problem and having checked and found no leaks, pulled the air connections to ensure they are OK, had them come off in his hand. He also said some drivers did not know you must turn them to lock them away from the hook up alignment. It is both an issue with a possible lack of training for new drivers and complacency with older ones.

A couple of you commented on a need for a new horse and yes, it was a bugger of a couple of weeks. But for a truck now nearing ten years old, traveled close to 2 million k, mostly with b-doubles often at 67 tonne or more but with a few roadtrains and triples involved as well, it has been and continues to be, a terrific workhorse. There is not one part or panel I can think of that I have not modified or changed in some way, mostly minor and often cosmetic, but Kenworth have done a good job with the K200. That does not mean I would not welcome the chance to help them make it even better. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

31st January 2020 Part 3 of the big trip.

Goodaye all, as part three and ending the big trip, last Sunday I had left you in the middle of nowhere, at the end of the world. Of course, it wasn’t and after a kip, we travelled on to Perth arriving late Saturday evening and because we were two up, arranged a motel room for two nights. We did some washing, along with a few bits and pieces catching up etc.

Monday morning, three full trailers to load, back and forth south of Perth, a visit to Kenworth to get a throttle position sensor and harness, but either a sensor or a whole pedal, so a whole pedal as they did not keep the harness as a part and I was told the shaft in the pedal pivot can wear and then affect the sensor. Considering the pedal was over 9 and a half years old, and it had done over 1.9 million, maybe better to replace the whole thing, but of course, a fair bit dearer, so had to get permission. Then tarp all three trailers, a customer requirement just for fun, that done out to Northam with the first, back for the second and off east as a two trailer roadtrain.

We made it to Balladonia midday Tuesday and I jumped in the TIV, did a lap round the servo which went fine and told Greg, not to take offence, it simply didn’t want him to drive her! So he headed off back to Perth to get his other trailer, I hooked up, backed up to get fuel and as soon as I tried to move forward, it failed again. I got it to the bowser, fueled up and then managed to get it away from the bowser without disconnecting again. Sorted the fuel and thanked the staff for keeping an eye on the truck whilst there, they had offered to do so and ring me if anything happened.

I had discussed the problem with our head mechanic and there is a procedure to reset the throttle sensor, so I tried that a few times without success, and was then told to disconnect the batteries, so cab up, disconnect two, still power, pull the bottom two out and disconnect, still power, must be a short, oh wait, there is a shared earth on the EGR sensor, take that off, but it had a childproof fitting and I could not get it off without breaking it. Power gone now, so hook it all up again.

By then I had had enough, waiting for return calls as being Australia Day, mate was playing golf, you must get your priorities right. So having packed all my gear away, he then rang and said, no, you will have to change the pedal. I had suggested this when I had to buy the pedal complete, but was told I wouldn’t be able to do it, it was a bugger of a job. So I asked, if it is such a bugger of a job, why are you telling me to do it now? Oh, well sometimes it is easy and sometimes not, it might take 15 minutes, or it might take an hour plus. So I pulled out my mats and that is another story for later, how the raised floor section near the pedal is not good for your spinal health.

It is bad enough when something fails as it has worn out, everything does, but when you find whoever worked on it last, has not only done a lousy job, but also left it half done, it can take the fun out of it all. I do believe it was a dealership, as they had finally fixed the engine ECM harness problem that had plagued me for some time and as part of that, had started with the throttle position sensor.

They did not only shear one of the bolts that mount the pedal to the floor and leave it in there, but instead of putting the harness through a specially cut slot, had put it under the edge of the panel (and then not even put all the screws back in the thing) and pinned it, so it seems to have been squashed and either rubbed or chaffed through. It did take me a while, but that included dusting and cleaning the floor, trying to get some of the accumulated dirt out from behind the panels and wiping all the mats etc. Then I went to bed.

Getting up after finishing my break, into gear and off, all working fine, problem solved. So to Adelaide, rang ahead, can I get a roadtrain in to unload, yes we have a big yard, mmmm. Rang again the next day when nearing the site, I asked yesterday about getting a roadtrain in, “So it is bigger than a b-double?” Yes two full trailers, yes you will be right. A couple of turns taken wide and got in the yard to unload. Got the first one untarped, unstrapped and ungated, so it could be unloaded while I did the second one, the fellows there did help me with the gates and the second tarp, thanks gents, confirmed I could have a bit of time to secure everything and have a 5 minute lunch, was told when we are getting ready to go, you will see us lock the in gate. No load available, so round to dog up the dolly and then the second trailer, thanks to all the gents at Verdons for their help and hit the road home.  

I did get an important call before I finished, held them up a little bit, but that is a story for the future. I was getting keen to get home, but wanted to get a bit up the road, check all the straps again, as I did not have any chains, they were all still in the third trailer and having got fuel and checked them all once, pulled up at BP Blanchetown to find a sign “Rump and vegies or salad and chips $14.95”. I do not normally eat steak, I find it a bit heavy and prefer rissoles or sausages, so I asked about the rump. “How do you have your steak?” Medium, “So you should get the rump” and I did.

Friendly staff too, $1.85 I think extra for the gravy, but for the money, a bloody good value feed. Good size, the salad had no beetroot or onion, but came with pasta and slaw, bread and butter included and delicious. Thanks and am told that the same company operates the Keith and Port Wakefield sites with the same deal as well.

Pulled up much later that night to get a fault code, a new one this time, but with no phone service, time for bed. Up Friday morning and no code and away I went, getting closer all the time to home. Made a couple more green reflector bay stops, have many people to ring and pursue, at least a few days work there when I can get the time, made it to Dubbo to find all the workshop staff going home. Ok well can you ring me if you want to check this code, as I am booked to leave Sunday.

Rang Saturday morning, busy but bring it out, only to try and it would not start, the code back up and stopped it winding over. Rang again, I have an appointment and will try after that. Back home, started first go, out to work, computer on and left it there to try and find the problem, more codes in a different harness. Got a call, have Sunday off and we will fix it Monday, too many issues and parts and time needed. So it has been a bit of an adventure, thanks to all for your comments and I hope you have enjoyed the tale as much as I have. I was asked on my return, so you made it back, would you go again? My answer, “I would go again tomorrow”, but of course, that would mean even more work as I would then have more time and bigger list of people to chase, we will see it if happens. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey. 

24th January 2021 Port Hedland Part 2

Part 2 of the Port Hedland trip. So my mate coming from Perth rang and said he had the parts and was on his way, but with breaks would not be to me till tomorrow noon. He said, have you got it off yet? No why? You can start it (no you can’t) and be ready for when I get there. You ring an hour out and I will be ready. So be it. I had a kip in the late afternoon, a couple of trucks stopped and asked was I ok, one from Dubbo so that was good of them to do so, others may have called on the radio, but unless they had what I needed, I would survive and only a rare few might have been able to do more. I had tea and read for awhile, planning to get up and hope to do my spot on “Nightshift” at 1 AM.

However, this raises the second issue from the trip. If you are a professional truckie and you are travelling on an empty road with an obviously broken down truck ahead and as far as possible but not that far off the road, would you not just mover over a little bit to avoid rocking, or waking or just annoying the poor bugger broken down with your turbulence. You can see he is broken down by the triangles and where he is parked, not in a rest area for a kip, you know or should that in that situation, you will possibly rock the cab sideways, and perhaps even, impact on his sleep, but only some moved over. Now if there is opposing traffic, fine, but with nothing in sight for over 10 k, WHY WOULD YOU NOT?

So knowing I was there for awhile, I read till just before my spot, got up on the load to get a signal, then up a bit higher when it was breaking up and Luke thought it a great effort to go to call in, one, the show must go on and it must show how keen I am to keep it going. Then to bed and up in the morning to remove the drivers side tank step, straighten it from a deep gutter which had seen the front of the trailer kiss and bend it, resecure with a bigger washer etc. Then wait.

Gregory rang, about an hour away, have you got it off yet, no, I will be ready when you get here and I was and he wasn’t and so I spent another hour standing in the sun waiting. I had called and asked about the pulley, having seen how hard they can be to get off a used alternator and was told there was a new one and belt supplied. In the end, I am glad I stopped as quickly as I did, it was the wrong belt! Had the old one been destroyed by going further or starting it etc, we would have had to wait another day for a belt.

There is a saga about the alternator that will only bore you, suffice to say it was slightly different, a broken wire I had found but no one was sure what it was for, had supreme relevance and my photo before removal will be more scrutinised next time. We took off, it did not work, with the help of the young chap who had stopped the day before, we got it fixed. This delay had meant a whole new plan, to meet our deadline for delivery and with the cyclone still approaching, Greg’s easy trip home with a single would be delayed and we would go two up to Port Hedland.

We were off, Greg and I agreed we would take my truck north, it had double bunks and all my gear on it and we worked on a plan, till we got nearly to Balladonia and the accelerator on my truck died. We made a decision, nothing could be done then and we carried on in Greg’s truck. It was all good, we hooked up the third trailer and had a shower at Kalgoorlie, then headed north. There was only one real scare, nearing Port Hedland very early Friday morning and after seeing many and overtaking a couple and then two quads together, with radio communication much a part of it, I came round a corner at about 95 with maybe 100 tonne gross and found a bull standing 100 metres in front of me in my lane. It had been raining and whilst normally it would be best to go behind him, that would have meant putting the passenger side tyres off the bitumen and I didn’t like that idea, so I braked, swerved is not the right term to use when towing three trailers, more I gently turned with the aim of just missing the bull, Greg heard me go OHHHHHHH and was up out of the bunk and saying, “Oh Goodness” or something akin to that so I can keep it family friendly and I missed the bull, then we tried calling and flashing other southbound drivers, but none responded, what else could I do?

We did stop and I offered a TIV poster to the Caltex at Mt Magnet and got some good photos of some of the combinations. We had not seen one vehicle travelling in our direction across that three hours, took some rest area photos, marked one green reflector bay north of town and had two in mind to mark on the way back, had meals on the run, fueled up and kept going.

We got close to town and went to bed for a sleep, before unloading in the morning. A full day involved, including waiting for the crane, then the fork, unloading three trailers, doing up all the straps and chains, having the crane lift one dolly on top of one trailer, then backing that trailer up onto the drop deck which had its’ own ramps, much trailer and dolly shifting and dropping and then securing it all, ready for the trip south to Perth, so we could go straight in as a legal double roadtrain.

We had made it on time, delivered the load, beaten the cyclone (it did move away and diminish a bit, but from what we hear, brought some very heavy rain, which we then missed) and we were off again two up to Perth. Arriving in Perth Saturday night our time after a visit to the ever lovely and pink trucked Miss Heather Jones, who wants me to come back soon with the new TIV, we dumped the trailers and headed to a motel. Now Greg is a nice bloke and two up is one thing and we had to get the load there, but with only one bed, we needed a break and a decent bed and that is where I am now.

This trip still holds its challenges and a long way to go, but there are other issues. The roads which have little traffic, but more and better rest areas than on the Newell Highway, (in all truth, they have it right in many ways and we are so far behind them) better road surfaces (same here as previous comment), better maintained, yet narrower, though with longer combinations, the absolute stupidity of a brilliant new roadtrain facility, but without showers and toilets at Karratha and the fight between state and federal governments about those facilities.

Those of you who know of my audio books passion, may know of the book by Nevil Shute, “On the beach” and when we pulled up in the middle of nowhere for a kip south of Karratha, having seen very few vehicles, it was like we could have been the only two people left on earth as in the book. I had planned to add photos, but motel wi-fi not up to it. Maybe they will be better as a story of their own with details.

Loading tomorrow and that may well be yet another story. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

24th January 2021 Port Hedland part 1

Well, goodaye all from Perth. I had considered a bit of a story each couple of days for those of you who may have been interested in such a trek as was being undertaken. I recognise it is not important in the scheme of things and those of you who read this, come from some different backgrounds and of course, have varying road transport involvement. But I thought it would be a chance for me to try a different format, both for my own experience and to see what comments it brought.

With my later than initially planned departure, some my fault and some not, the now slightly tighter timeframe and then word of an impending cyclone hitting just where I was due to deliver, some of the things I had planned as part of the trip did not lose focus, but moved down the scale of importance, as you must always be prepared to amend and balance issues as you go along. This was not just a trip to Melbourne or Brisbane and back, which I do every week, so if I see something but can’t act on it this week, I know I will get another look soon.

I do plan many things, have many aims, often have insufficient time to do all I would like to be able to do, but I am an employed driver. I must also do my part for the company and then do my stuff as and where it will fit, without substantial impact to my employer and their work and scheduling, which of course extends not only to their customers, but to my legal compliance with everything else. Knowing this would possibly be a once in a lifetime trip, but also being realistic, it could change, I did plan to do some green reflector bays, check out rest areas, make notes on roads and rest areas for a section of the network I do not get to travel regularly and in the format I was due to be in, roadtrains etc.

I would welcome some feedback from you readers. I enjoy all I do, wish I could do more of some things and less of others, but we all need to pay the bills. I enjoy writing and getting comments on my experiences and whilst that is not the only reason behind the blog etc, some of it is cathartic, it gives me even in writing it, pause to help decide how to focus more on some things and less on others, overall, to gain the best from the time spent. This is a bit deep, but with a new truck coming, I will have to even more, get the most benefit for the best outcomes. Comments welcome please.

It has been an interesting week. I left home last Sunday after trying to do a lot of things in a little time, so was later than I had planned by the time I left the yard in Dubbo. Knowing it was to be a long trip (but I am sure you are shocked it had already changed by Monday and kept doing so till Wednesday PM), I did my shopping, bought a large container of extra drinking water, then at the yard, got a 20l drum of water for the truck and 5l of oil. I have a water tank and extra oil etc in my trailers, but were not taking them due to the nature of the load.

It had initially been planned as a triple from Dubbo, but we also had a single trailer load for Perth, so it was decided another driver would take the single and my third trailer towards Perth as a double roadtrain and drop my third at Norseman, where I would hook it up and go north with three. I left Dubbo at 3PM Sunday after my 24 hour break etc, having only got home Saturday morning. I had checked the third trailer over before it left when in the yard Thursday before I went to Melbourne. Saturday I asked to have a few tyres replaced, as was looking at a possible round trip of over 15,000k if I loaded back across the top as a triple, as was the plan when I went home Saturday.

Before I went home I got another driver to hook the trailers up and check it all over, so I could come in Sunday and just go and that part went well, sort of. I headed out and got to Emmdale just as they were closing, was needing a quick break and they had turned off the grill but offered me toasted sangas. I got two with a cuppa, chatted while eating, offered up some green reflector bay posters and then back into it and made it through to the other side of Broken Hill. Then went to bed just before 1AM, so as not to lose any hours by being on the road in the “night hours” which then carry a loading into your maximum work hours for the week and I did have a big week or two in the weeks ahead.

Up, brekkie, a look over the load, add another strap to a couple of blocks of timber in a pack which wanted to move out, then a bit up the road stopped at a suitable green reflector bay before Oodla Wirra and not only found a good ratchet with a broken strap someone had discarded, but then another strap and ratchet still wrapped up as if just dropped. All good across the SA border, spoke with our other driver in front who had been delayed at the WA border, so I gained a bit of time on him and kept pedalling, but had been told the plan to come home round the top had changed.

It would have been a near round Australia trip and my first that way across the top of Australia, but such is life and it was to change much more and with more impact yet. I was making a list of issues, bad bumps, parking bay issues etc as I went. A covid test, yes quick and painless at Port Augusta, refuel, check straps and load and launch into the wide blue westbound yonder. On that second night, was westbound after having a chat with another driver who recognised the truck as he went past me, we covered rest areas and roads and green reflector bays.

Again hoping to pull up by 1AM for the hours and not knowing the road, I started looking for a parking bay from about 12.30 AM, but there was none, then a couple. on the eastbound side, but signed no entry for westbound trucks, then I missed one not signed for westbound and in the end, pulled into an eastbound one signed No Entry.

There will be much to follow up with from this trip, but the first is who, how and why are some rest areas marked signed and or designed or not, for both directions of travel? Some do, some don’t, some will and some won’t suit both directions of travel, but where I was still east of Nulllabor, there is some bloody big gaps, there are some rest areas but only signed for eastbound traffic, yet in other places where there are more rest areas, some are signed for both directions and others not. Yes, rest areas cost money to build and then to maintain, but to us we need them to survive, manage fatigue, prevent fines and they are critical to each of these issues and of course, important to other motorists as well, but not to the same extent.

We have so far to go to get consistency, suitable capacity and sufficient facilities for truck drivers in rest areas and we all live and drive in often, many states of this one country, yet we have those who understand, those who don’t, others who don’t care about us, yet have control over our lives and even as simply, as to whether we can use a toilet, what a disgrace.

Anyway, back to the trip. Got up and headed west, saw a Parking Bay sign just up the road and thought, should have kept going, only to then find it marked, NO TRUCKS, that would have been very bloody helpful, NOT! Because we are a fairly adaptable bunch, we have pushed and parked and made a wide shoulder in the front of this no truck bay, but it would not have been the best place for an 8 hour break, I would have not got quality sleep with trucks rocketing by a coupe of feet away and had I continued, the next one was much further on just before Nullabor Village, would I have made it safely? Who cares, not those who have control of our lives and our parking bays.

This is the part where it all starts to go awry. Through the WA border, Coppers good and smiling and satisfied, border not as friendly but all good in the end and away. Down the pass and along the flat and I smelt something burning, checked the alternator, voltage down, pulled up, belt and pulley now screaming and shut it down. Fairly certain of the problem, drop bullbar, cab up and check, alternator pulley seized. Cab down and try the phone. Got through, lost signal. Up on load, signal back, rang workshop with the news. “Really, where?” was the first comment, yes really, yes on the Nullabor. He  would get back to me. Only 28 hours later I would be back on the road, what else do you do, catch up on paperwork, do my diary, make a couple of calls, some came out of the blue and lasted, others failed, must have been the cyclone?

Now another issue. The Nullabor has near perfect wide shoulders, good road surface and some rest areas and if you break down or blow a tyre, you can stop nearly anywhere and change it with relative safety as the reasonably light traffic has long straight vision to see you. It did not have any green reflector bays till then. I had looked ahead to a slightly wider shoulder, thought that a better place to stop, hoping it was only minor, but was there 28 hours. Once a diagnosis and plan was in place and knowing I would be there for a while, I put out my breakdown triangles.

A couple of trucks stopped asking was I OK, one as I was walking up the road a good way from the truck. I explained I was going to the next guidepost as they are a good way apart here and what I was doing. A young fellow pulled up in a ute, but had only some DAF and Volvo parts and knowledge. I could possibly have put up a sign asking for a Kenworth/Cummins alternator, or sat on the radio and called many trucks. I knew I would not starve, had the again, magnificent Icepack, which would keep me cool and with power, so was if not content, not concerned for my immediate safety, but still annoyed, bugger this.

I did suggest work ask some of the regular Perth runners if they carried an alternator, but was told it was in hand. MMMMMM. Later that evening, it was decided the lead truck, who had made it to Perth and was reloading, would simply bring me one back, but the timing for Port Hedland was now getting critical and the cyclone was still coming and things would have to be sorted when back on the road.

As above, I will continue the story, but will hold you in suspense and have a break for now. Back soon, Rod Hannifey.

17th December 2021 On the road again.

Goodaye all. I did three trips to Melbourne week before last and on the third leg home decided to try Vicroads again. I got frustrated by the changes to their phone service and previously told them so, but had no further feedback nor did anything get fixed, so must admit, I gave up for a while.

But I rang and said I had a list of five things and the lady was accepting and interested. We got through the list and she said, “Is there anything else?” and I said yes, but I don’t have a reference point or kilometre marker, so will have to ring back when I can confirm. She did ring me back as she could not find Cemetery Road, I was still way south of there and I explained where and she said, found it, all good and she would pass all issues on.

Within an hour, I had a call back from one of the road managers. One issue they knew about, one they did not, two were previous complaints that nothing had been done about and we discussed those and one was out of his jurisdiction, but he would pass it on. I had his number on the phone and asked could I call him with other issues. He requested I continue to call the 131170 number and we discussed the menu issue and both he and the original lady said they had not listened to it and would.

The road manager did say they struggle to get the funding for some things and I explained that I rang with good intent, knowing they had a big network and that few of them understood our issues and hoped that my complaint, would not only see bits fixed or at least improved, but that my calling as a road user and raising these issues would possibly then help them get the funding. If no one complains, they will hopefully fix what they know about or see as a problem, but if we don’t tell them about the rough bridge abutments northbound at Glenrowan or the undulations southbound before Cemetery Road or all the other bits, how likely are they to fix them?

Now the cynical of you will say they won’t fix any of it anyway and yes, the southbound section near the inspection pads north of Kalkallo took me years to get fixed and are now failing again, but you must at least give me a B plus for trying and not giving up easily. We shall see what gets fixed, but many others have been over the years. We also discussed the wire rope and the problems it has caused in being run end to end on the Hume and I am still waiting for Vicroads to mark the overlap bays with green reflectors, but I shall never give up on that one.

Tomorrow I head off on my longest ever work trip. I might even try and make a story of it. I must go now to hook up my trailers for a trip to Norseman in WA and will pick up a third there for Port Hedland. It will be a big trip. Till next time, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

10th January 2021 trips and reflectors.

Goodaye all, a busy week, four audio books completed, three round trips to Melbourne, a call from TMR Roma and hopefully some work to now update and record and maintain green reflector bays in that area, that contact was to pass on my details to Emerald district with the same purpose, make them aware and have them add some new and also maintain current sites etc.

A call to Vicroads coming out of Melbourne Friday with a list of 5 issues, saw a 20 minute wait on the phone, but then not only a very understanding, but even more, someone who was even interested in my issues, taking a list and within the hour, I had a call from one of the road engineers regarding one section. He confirmed one problem, another was in their lists of things to do, one was not and would be added, one was a previous complaint and another was out of his jurisdiction, but he would pass on.

He did say they are struggling to get the funding to do all that needs to be done and I did say I hoped he would take my complaint and use it to get more funding as being a regular user of the road and therefore someone affected by road failures, like any other road user, those using the road regularly should be listened to. I asked could I contact him with another issue that I could not immediately recall accurately where it was and therefore, they would struggle to find it.

He said, “All I can suggest is you keep ringing the 131170 number and both raising issues that affect us and then in doing so, that will be helping them to get sufficient funding to fix those things. I was not happy with the menu on the call in number, raised that issue as well and both said they would pass that on.

I am working on a complete list of bumps from Oakey to Mt Isa and have forewarned TMR, but have been told it will at the least be passed on to the relevant districts. Only waiting for Rockhampton and Toowoomba to respond now. I am still not happy with the speed zones on the Toowoomba bypass, was told by QTA they were given an undertaking they would be reviewed, but nothing has changed except now the uphill section of the viaduct was corrugating before Christmas.

A couple of new and remarked green reflector bays on the Tomingley to Narromine Road, two still to do and a couple on the Newell near Peak Hill and Wagga remarked after new guideposts put in. A number of new sites marked between Roma and Mt Isa now marked from trips before Christmas as well. I raised it again with Vicroads and it was interesting to hear that even the repair crews complained about the wire rope before it went from end to end and they have had two trucks hit as there is now nowhere safe to pull off the road and be clear of traffic.

I was told by Vicroads in July last year, there would be a trial of marking the overlap bays in the wire rope with green reflectors in September 2020,  but none has been done and they refuse to respond when I ask again and again. No wonder we struggle to comply and have doubts about how serious they are about our safety.

Many of you may be aware of the change in the roadside radar cars in NSW. I am told that not only with the removal of the warning signs, that they will be able to catch you in both directions now, previously with the signs only on one side, they could not ping you going the other way, but if you meet one travelling on the road towards you, you can get a ticket from them as well now.

In for a service in the morning, then a delivery and off to Moree and possibly Brisbane. We had a busy Christmas and others I spoke to said the same. Did you see a change from the past? I see truck sales are up, freight volumes are up and all that is good for some, yet others are still affected by Covid and changes to their work load and or need for their services. Let us all hope this new year will see things improve. Till next week, Safe Travellling, Rod Hannifey.

3rd January 2021 A Trucking Good New Year to you all.

Goodaye and a TRUCKING Good New Year to you all for 2021. I got a few days off over Christmas and now a few over New year, but back on the road again, this afternoon. I hope each of you had time with those you love and or at least, time to recover from the year that was.

Some have been badly affected and we thought the worst was over, but here we are with border closures again. Let us hope after the first debacle with over 4 hours delay for trucks, seeing many out of hours and left with nowhere to go but sit in the que, that this will not happen again. It is not as though it has never happened before, yet why did it go so wrong? Who will be held responsible for simply bad traffic management? I fear it is simply a case of it doesn’t affect me, so it is not a problem.

No wonder we are a cynical and cranky bunch of people who feel we are treated as second or less, class people. We can’t get enough rest areas, toilets or shade so we can safely manage our fatigue, we can’t get the flexibility to do so, we are told by all these others to be safe and don’t break the law, yet we are not given the tools to do so.

I do hope both the HVNL review and the Senate inquiry into a Safe and Viable Road Transport industry will achieve some improvements, but unless we push, nothing will change. It is still sad that only 60 odd drivers, out of 200,000 plus, made the effort to contribute to the HVNL review. Many will sit and whinge about how we are treated and those groups and associations who do their best to see things change, can only do so much and without members, they too will get little done.

Those who tell us how to do our job, don’t live on the road, don’t have or even understand our problems and unfortunately even fewer care, it is simply not their problem! But they all want to eat, have clothes, fuel and parts for their cars etc and until we have a voice and those others recognise what we give up in our lives to make their better and more comfortable, we will struggle to get change.

Enough on the soapbox. I am still working on my list of issues from the Mt Isa trips, pushing for the next TIV and hoping to keep you interested and informed. How many of you read the trucking press now? What do they do right for you, what do you want from them and have you ever written and or contacted a trucking industry press to help them help you? Don’t just say, it is still the same as years ago, we need more involved, even if the only thing you do is one thing, that will help. What do you want from me, what can I do better? Give it some thought. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

When I first picked up the brand new trailers in Melbourne.
The last trip with the first TIV. A different look that took a lot of effort with the help of many. Thank you Ken Wilkie, your help in getting me going will never be forgotten or surpassed. Thanks Rod.

23rd December 2020, what a way to end the year.

Goodaye all. Apologies for leaving you all in the lurch waiting with baited breath last week, I cleaned the inside of the cab after starting this, then had to go and load trailers and get fuel etc. The first part was written with a plan to put up, but alas, I did not get back to it to do so.

(Written last Sunday) It is somewhat warm here near McKinlay, north of Winton. What took hours to load in three separate trips in Brisbane, was lifted off in 7 hits, one because the chain got caught coming out. The man unloading me brought me a bottle of water during unloading, then when done and I was flagging, I asked for another and he then also offered me an electrolyte ice block. Both hit the spot. I did need something to eat as was due when I got here, but knowing what is in front of me to get home, I thought a late lunch would perhaps gain me another 30 minutes or at least, not cost me an hour if I got in while the mine crew was on lunch. One of our other drivers had said you could get a bus into the village and get a feed and a shower, but not so. You need this pass and that form and now I am outside, it is too late.

My safety, amenity, ability to get a shower or meal and have a life, affected and controlled by the logbook and they wonder why we want change. I could get a bit down the road, but that will simply cost me more time in my effort to get home before Christmas. A 24 hour break in the truck here was not the original plan, but circumstances, wiring issues and lights etc, the load and the operating environment, have all each added delays I could not foresee or prevent. But I have to comply.

So here I am in the truck and without the Icepack, I would be in trouble. Thank you Charles and the team for supplying a device that makes such conditions bearable for truckies. I have often pondered the safety side of things, with the view that safety applies to others when you can screw them over, make them do all types of time wasting crap in the name of safety so you have a job and those affected don’t count. The time lost, the loss of income etc for all who then have to wait even longer now behind etc.

What about our safety in the sun. the rain, the heat etc? We are often the only bunnies stuck in these conditions loading and unloading. The bloke who came up with the idea to keep you safe, doesn’t have to live with it, it keeps them employed coming up with even more crap to foist on someone else. Their time and life won’t be affected. Why are those affected not included in any such changes?

The forkies will mostly happily watch you trying to keep up with them when they hit you with two forks, after making you wait of course, they have a cover for the sun and the rain, yes they might have to wear the long sleeves and pants, hard hat etc, but they don’t have to lift gates, move curtains and then strap it all down. Thankfully this load doesn’t have those issues, but there are always things we have to do and some still don’t get paid for that. Why Not?

I want to be safe at work, I want to be safe on the road (and then why do we not teach car drivers about sharing the road with trucks) and I want others to be as safe. What I have a problem with is those who come up with and then implement things to keep me safe that will not, that will take more time and leave me with more responsibility down the road, yet I have not been consulted, my time and the changes to my life completely ignored and the cost to me as the driver, not even on the radar. If it cost those who come up with it, they surely have to get funding and approval for changes they put forward, so the cost to the company will be considered, by why is the cost to every driver then involved, impacted and delayed etc, not?

Hard hats when the only thing they will protect you from is a plane falling out of the sky, long sleeves and pants, when all they do is bring you closer and faster to heat stress. Yes there are absolutely places where these things are needed to keep workers safe, but not everywhere. So ends the rant.

 (Written tonight) It has been an unusual month, my four legged freight, the giraffe to SA, a trial in another truck and then to Melbourne, Dubbo, St George, Brissie and off to Mt Isa with two and back again to Brisbane then up to the mine with three. Hot all the way, I missed all the rain and most of the kangaroos, one on the way up and three on the way back, but none on the second trip. The roads up there are terrible as those who travel them all the time well know. I did make a list of some of thew worst bumps and plan to submit it to TMR, but will they do anything? A few green reflector bays appeared in new places and a few asked was I lost. I am unloading in the morning, back to Dubbo then preloading for Melbourne to go Monday. It has been a very different year for many, though most I spoke with are busy now. So to all who read and hopefully enjoy, may I wish you a Merry Christmas and a TRUCKING Good New Year and plan to keep you informed and occasionally entertained in the New Year. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

29th November 2020 Roads and rest areas again.

Goodaye all, another week on the road. I did get a call from a mate who rang and complained about a pothole under the Jerilderie camera. He was given not only an undertaking that it would be fixed, but that the person would contact the Safe-t-cam people and ask them not to issue any fines for those who tried to avoid the pothole and then ran foul of the camera. Had he not rang, many may have got camera fines, but it doesn’t always work that way. Let’s hope it went the way it should have. Well done Chris.

Another contact through a Facebook friend request, who complained about Victorian roads, when asked were they aware of the number and had they called, tells me they have and have had no action. This is why I am still asking for a national road standard, so we know what is deemed acceptable, we can contribute to that standard, not simply have car drivers think we are whinging and we can then hold the road authorities to account.

Then once we report a section of road, depending on the traffic volumes and when the next maintenance is due, it should be fixed within a specified time, dependant on how bad and the above factors. Serious failures and large potholes etc, should simply be left till next time the crew is out that way. A car could hit it and swerve into the path of a truck, a motorcyclist could be thrown well off the road from some of them and whilst you can look and should also be watching the road and driving to conditions, it is hard to see in the dark and round corners. Lives should not be at risk for any longer than is absolutely necessary, to get the problem fixed.

I read at one stage that truckies in the USA were aiming to charge the road authorities for damage caused to their trucks by some of their roads, but have not seen it get up and no surprise, imagine if it did and then maybe we could follow. We are required to be compliant, meet very high standards and be under intense scrutiny, yet I still think that we are not getting good value for the money spent on roads.

What good is it to have two or more people sit in cars at both ends of roadworks all day and tell trucks there is roadwork ahead? Yes, there have been idiots who have slammed into parked vehicles, but if their radio is down or off, then what will them being there change? Some of those do not even speak clearly enough to be understood and I have suggested that on the radio, both politely and with the aim to help, yet why are we paying them for this if they don’t care enough to even be understood. Surely there is a better and cheaper way to do it, instead of having people bored stupid sitting in a car all day calling us up. More money to pay people for little value.

Roads cost a lot, we must get good value, not simply supply large profits to million dollar companies to do a lousy job and then when it fails, pay again. Someone must be responsible for the work, the value and the life of the road, or we will simply continue to pay for something and get little value for it.

On a very positive note, I must congratulate the Tasmanian Trucking association of r getting actual, not implied, intended or promised, support for a Tasmanian Truck Rest Area Strategy, something I would very much like to see done nationally. There are obvious factors that have seen this get up, a lack of through traffic which swells truck numbers needing rest areas, a concerted effort by the association not only in pushing the case, but putting out a document few could realistically argue against and someone in government prepared to put their neck out and support it.

With many towns bypassed over the last few years as the highways were improved and then also more and more wire rope barriers taking away shoulders and spots that could be used, even if not the best or safest spots and of course then, not formally signed and or recognised by the authorities.

But they have agreement and a plan for some immediate and some longer term improvements and I would hope when all done, that at least one state will have enough suitable and sufficient truck rest areas for all those who need them. Their report which is 122 pages long, does say they were way behind and failed to meet all previous requirements for the number and spacing of truck rest areas and I hope this can be used as a guide on how to see things improved. Well done all involved. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.    

22nd November 2020 Roads!

Goodaye all. Am I the only one who has a problem with our roads and the way they are managed? We must all as I do, recognise we have a large country and a small population, we do not have the people to generate the taxes they do in the USA. We have wide open spaces so no state or district can be aware of every small road failure in all of their area and we cannot expect them to inspect thousands of kilometres of road each week.

With that as a start point, those who control the funding do little driving on our roads, their time is too valuable and they mostly fly. Those who distribute the funding you would hope, would have local knowledge, road building skill and understanding and common sense to ask and or learn if they do not have all the above. Biggest problem with common sense, is that it is not very common now.

Then why, from where I sit bouncing and banging along what is meant to be a National Highway, the Newell, which runs from Brisbane to Melbourne, having to travel on a road where some of the failures can have my wheels off the ground and or throw me around the cabin to the extent my seatbelt will allow, but that only limits the travel, not removes the impacts.

Yes we have generally better roads than we did in the past and yes, they are often wider, safer and carry much more traffic. Yes we have freeways and they deliver much of the city traffic to and from work. But our country depends on roads, not just for freight to and from everywhere to everywhere else, but so you can go visit Grandma and or have a holiday.

Trains do a good job moving bulk commodities and freight over long distances, Perth maybe and they tried to do Darwin and failed badly after spending millions of our dollars. I do believe that rail link should have been built during or immediately after the war, but what would I know. At one stage we had 28 different rail gauges in Australia, no wonder we don’t have as good a rail system as the USA. But no matter where the trains run, you need trucks at each end as no train a kilometre long will stop at the back of your supermarket, nor will it call into your farm to pick up your grain.

So for now, we need trucks. So if you want us to be able to deliver your freight at the cheapest cost, you have to have good roads, so our trucks can travel safely on them. My most recent question to all has been, why must trucks be road friendly, when roads are not truck friendly and why must we be fined for failures caused by the roads. We should be charging the road authorities for repairs, given the roads are meant to be safe, aren’t they?

I have been ringing road authorities for nearly 20 plus years making them aware of road failures. When I started, I was often told, we don’t get many truckies ring to tell us of these problems and so we often don’t know till our crews find them (and even that doesn’t always get things fixed either) but the truck I drive has the technology to graph and locate impacts into the truck, yet the road authorities will not recognise the data. Yes they may be scared it will mean they will have to accept the road has a problem and then find the money to fix it.

I do not ring about a divet the size of my palm, I ring when there is a failure, either badly built, badly repaired or simply, it has failed and I tell them for my safety, for your safety, so they know and can act accordingly to fix it in a timely manner and so that some poor bugger doesn’t come along and not being aware, hits the hole or irregularity and then goes under the front of another car or unsuspecting truckie who only went to work that day to feed his family and who will then invariably be dragged through court, even though the crash was not their fault and possibly have their lives and that of their families destroyed while it is all sorted out.

If lucky it will happen quickly when someone realises it was not the truckies fault, but at worst, it will drag on for months and destroy them and one day, they will be proved not guilty, but it will be too late for them then. This is a worse case, but I have been asking for over 5 years to get one section of road repaired and still it is not done. It is not the only issue, far from it, even the promoted new Dubbo bridge, which the community, the council and many others see as a half arsed cheap non solution to Dubbo’s current and future transport needs, is yet another issue where those who build and pay for it, from my point of view, simply won’t firstly properly consult those who will use it, nor will they listen to them when they disagree. How do you fix any of this? I would welcome your thoughts. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.