18th April 2021 Calling for submissions.

Goodaye all. Well week four with my sling and outside of the task of ringing every member of the National Road Freighters Association, up to nearly 100 so far, I have been typing merrily away one handed, but making lots of corrections as I go. We now have a confirmed site at the Brisbane Truckshow, so I and other members of NRFA will be on the stand to say hello and get you to join. We will have a dinner date for members one night, so join up and come along.

The show looks set to have very wide industry support and coverage, with many other activities aligned with it for the duration of the show.

I still need a few more truckies, perhaps a couple from SA or Tassie for the hazard perception study, another tanker driver and a couple of general carters to round it out. If you drive fulltime and can give me 15 or 20 minutes, please give me a call. 0428120560

I will be visiting many of the TIV sponsors and hopefully encouraging a couple more to participate, so am still working on the next one, but lots still to do. I have been given a spot as the NRFA President at the Senate Inquiry in Canberra to wrap up from our point of view. I will thank all of our members who have contributed so far and believe we would be by individual numbers, the largest group to put in submissions.

Speaking of things you can do, submissions to the National Road Safety Strategy has closed and from a truckies view, we are again getting blamed for far more than our share of the problems on the road. But there is a chance for you to still have a say. The NHVR is calling for submissions till the end of the month and I will put mine at the bottom for your comments.

Don’t think I want you to just steal a bit or copy, I do want you to go to the NHVR website and read the document and think and reply. We don’t get the chance to contribute often enough, so don’t miss this one! You may just want to raise one issue or ten, you might want to challenge some thing the NHVR is saying, but don’t whinge about it after it closes and we haven’t been listened to, have a say, it won’t kill you and might even help another truckie in the future.

TRUCKRIGHT ABN 17426245866

TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle (TIV) Ten Years on the road, 2019.

Rod Hannifey, Road Transport and Road Safety Advocate, TIV Driver and Operator.                                           Telephone: 0428 120560 Email: rod@truckright.com.au  Website: www.truckright.com.au

TRUCKRIGHT Awarded Highly Commended, 3M ACRS Diamond Road Safety Awards 2015.                                 Finalist 3M ACRS Diamond Road Safety Awards 2016, Awarded Churchill Fellowship 2016.          Green Reflector Marking Informal Truck Bays, finally completed the Newell Highway 2019.

To the NHVR, I would like to submit the following towards your Heavy Vehicle Safety Strategy.

On page 4 you speak of employees knowing appropriate safety behaviours that lead to rewards. Currently the whole of the enforcement task has been based on punishment, there is no reward, no recognition of previous behaviour, only fines and penalties. I recognise that as you take over individual state road authorities you are standardising training and that the NHVR is speaking of education before enforcement, but that has not been the case for the last 30 years, nor do you have any control whatsoever over how Police “interpret” laws under the HVNL, nor do you have any input or control then, over how individual states review and or further punish, so called offenders. Until this changes, you have one system where you are aiming to improve but the other enforcers will be allowed to continue unabated and will possibly destroy some of your good work.

How the NHVR will change Cultures and behaviour.   You speak of effective fatigue risk management systems, but no current system will overcome the current deficit of truck rest areas. What good is any system, if you have left fit for duty, planned your trip and you become tired and you are told to stop and manage your fatigue with no where to do so. It is my belief that such shortages have led to fatigue crashes and whilst I do recognise the possible driver aids available with some technologies, relying on them alone will not solve the problem.

The inherent lack of flexibility with the current system will continue to fail drivers and either force them to drive tired to be legal and get there, and or to stop and rest when they cannot sleep for any number of reasons. I do hope the current HVNL review will go someway to alleviate these issues, but again, to those pushing for EWDS etc, you must provide both the flexibility and the rest areas first, before going to a system that will count you out and punish you with no feelings or understanding of how hard you tried, to be both compliant and safe.

Delivering visible, targeted, compliance activities. I welcome and applaud this with one caveat, you have no control over how the Police act, so unless you do, some could well undermine your good work and intent.

Influencing other road users’ behaviour around heavy vehicles. I have been involved with this specific aim for over 20 years and notwithstanding the fact I have received funding both directly and indirectly from some of your programs, I will say you have done more than any before you to change this problem.  You have come to it late, but I am happy to promote and support current and further efforts to reduce crashes from those not taught to share the road with trucks.

Safer vehicles and increased uptake of safety technology. The next TIV will have most of this technology and some others. The just retired one had much of it, but to be truthful, I was never asked to expound on it and perhaps that was a missed opportunity? But happy to work with you and get that knowledge and information to other drivers and truck buyers.

Vehicle Maintenance. I agree absolutely with your intent, with again one caveat. In the past some without real sufficient knowledge have used this as punishment, eg sending a driver with a crack in a windscreen that was not dangerous, a small single bald patch on one tyre or a single light out for costly and ridiculous major full vehicle inspections. If you can remove such over-zealous stupidity from current enforcement, along with over the top Police grandstanding about infringements found and fined for, with absolutely no requirement to tell the truth or be held accountable for their behaviour. In these such “blitzes”, the more they ramp it up and lie, the worse we look and the more they can self-perpetuate such abuses.

Influence road network design to support safe heavy vehicles. We need a NATIONAL ROAD STANDARD, to which not only road authorities can be held, but also road builders and repairers. Even when some roads and or repairs are new, they are not built properly and or to the proper standard for safe road use. When they either fail and or as you suggest increase the risk of a crash, then it is too little too late and the maintenance costs and the possibility of causing or contributing to a crash, will only continue to increase. Wire rope from end to end on the Hume, Tycannah Creek Bridge south of Moree opened as a roller coaster and overtaking lanes south of Peak Hill failing within weeks of completion and no one is held to account.

Number and quality of rest stops. As mentioned above, we are not only behind in providing safe and sufficient truck rest areas, we are going backwards. We need a NATIONAL REST AREA STRATEGY

We now have national guidelines for truck rest area design, but no national policy to enforce it, let alone see one single truck rest area built. Yes we have some state programs, but they do not consider trucks, the current freight task, growing traffic, issues of truck parking in cities, let alone the growing problems of more restrictions, but also local trucks taking up spaces as free parking in truck stops or the added pressure of the annual caravan invasions. Then we have new roads and or alignments that take away current safe shoulders, by pass towns and then we lose 50 spots and get one parking bay with 10 spaces at ridiculous cost.

The Pacific Highway has never had enough truck bays and whilst it is now a much better road and may well take some traffic off the Newell, we have lost more parking bays than we have gained. Even worse than that, there was never any thought given to a proper change over facility, even when RMS knew of the hazards and congestion that occurred at Clybucca. I told them 15 years ago that such a site must be included in the Pacific Highway upgrades, we had only waited for 30 years to get one on the Hume and even it was badly designed and now the Pacific is completed, there is still nothing and insufficient truck bays for the increasing number of trucks which will only continue to grow.

I could go on and I recognise you are not currently responsible for such sites and I truly welcome your participation in this most critical of issues and do hope you can achieve something in the future.

Safe heavy vehicle road use. As a b-double driver, I understand the need for some restrictions, but there have been times, when by mistake, or by diversion due to a crash or roadworks, I have been sent on a road that was not a b-double route. Yet there has never been a road I could not safely travel along or exit safely from. In my view the penalty far exceeds the damage you suggest could happen. I will then go the other way and say I have seen drivers who can’t negotiate on a safe and permitted road, but that is all about proper driver training and while not under your direct control, I think needs much focus and hopefully resolution, that will provide safer truck drivers on the road. But too often the enforcement I have seen and heard of, was mostly overzealous and had nothing to do with road safety. Once you get into type 1 and then type 2 roadtrains, that is completely another matter.

Thank you for this opportunity to contribute and I look forward to your continuing efforts to improve road safety for all. Rod Hannifey, Road Transport and Road Safety Advocate and President NRFA.

I will attach the last video from the TIV. Again the light was dying, so the quality is not that good, but the sentiment and I hope, the passion will ring through. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

10th April 2021. Goodbye TIV video 3 and a bit of history of the blue/green reflector marking of informal truck bays.

Goodaye all. Three weeks of 6 in my sling, dressings off and wounds healing nicely, but sleeping still the biggest problem, though keeping busy typing with left hand and on the phone. I am currently working my way through ringing all financial members of the National Road Freighters Association to say Goodaye and to do a hazard perception survey for trucks.

We have had a few new members join and I ask any of you who want to see change and are not involved elsewhere, give a thought to joining. The more members we have, the better we will be recognised and then hopefully more able to achieve change. We aim to have a stand at the upcoming Brisbane Truckshow next month.

Next week is chase all the bits and pieces for the new TIV week. There are a few pretty bits I am keen on and I need a sponsor for some stainless work etc. There is a lot of effort goes into tying it all together when you are dealing with many of the suppliers individually, but without each of them, the whole would never be as good as it could.

There is one more video to follow this one. Both were done in a green reflector bay on the Newell Highway in the Pilliga section, between Narrabri and Coonabarabran. For many years this was not only seen to be, but was marked by large signs, as a fatigue black spot and I did it one night in the fog and vowed never to do it again and thankfully, have been able to stick to that.

The original blue reflectors started just north of Parkes in December 1999 and only covered a short section, then made it to the northbound bay just past the Shell at Gilgandra in February 2000. A fine and genuine friend of the road transport industry, Mr Stuart Peden of RTA Parkes took a bit of a risk and put the first ones up as a trial without much support. I had approached him following a trip home from Sydney in a single tanker, loaded with petrol over the Blue Mountains and as I normally drove b-doubles, did not use this road much at all.

It was late and I was tired, having been held up in Sydney for some reason and I was looking for somewhere to pull up and go to bed. I had hours to spare, but was getting to the point I needed to stop, but not knowing the road and or where any rest areas were, I was looking, but not finding any. Now those who run any road regularly know of some informal unmarked spots where they can park and get good sleep and or they know where the signed truck bays are. With a full load of petrol, I could not just park anywhere, I couldn’t simply pull up on the shoulder and go to sleep, which I really was getting to the point of, as that may not have been beneficial to my life, let alone, that of others and in the end, I had to travel on to Molong and park near the silo.

I had passed a couple of possible spots, but even having slowed down to just under 90, going too slow could be a hazard for following traffic, it was simply both unsafe to try and pull up at the last second to get in and again, with any traffic behind you, making such a move unannounced at the very last second is not the safest thing to do.

Having survived the trip, I thought there must be a way to mark such informal stops. With the guideposts already in place and considering the best way to make it work would be to keep it simple and cheap, I approached Stuart with the idea of using additional reflectors on the guideposts in a 3,2,1 pattern and as all the parking bays signs, for cars and trucks were blue, we thought that would both be different, they would stand out enough, but still be linked in a way to be effective and workable.

For many years after the initial ones went up, I kept asking him to extend them, but he could not get approval. At one stage, Stuart told me I had more chance of getting the idea up from outside the RTA than he did from the inside and so the long, arduous and continuing saga of emailing, asking, pushing and begging began and still continues to this day. You would have to agree, pursuing something for over 22 years now and still at it, either confirms me as dogged, tenacious or just plain bloody minded, your choice.

A fellow at TMR Warwick became a fan of the idea and in 2005 he moved to TMR Roma, did a trip with me where he marked some sites, then we ended up in Brisbane at the Road Safety Awards and I won the Industry Category and thought, this might see it kick on now. With the help of a few at TMR, guidelines were formulated, confirmed and written up and even posters were done, but then it stalled again and here I am still pushing it.

Years on and I am still asking RTA to extend the now green reflector marking of informal truck bays at least to Narrabri, as the Pilliga was a known black spot with few parking bays. For years I wrote lists of suggested sites and then I hit a point where I said, if they won’t, I will and some green reflector bays then appeared in the Pilliga.  This is that spot and these two sites, one either side, which were much later paved when I badgered some more RTA staff and are still helping truckies find a safe place to stop for whatever reason.

To all those who tell me I have helped them find a safe spot to stop when they really needed it, or even told me I have saved their life, none of you will ever know how much time and effort I have and am still putting into this, something so cheap and effective, yet I am still trying to get it not only state wide, but national. Till next week, enjoy the video, sorry for the quality, but that site had a bit of meaning and I could not hold the sun up any longer. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

4th April 2021 Happy Easter, Video 2

Goodaye all. Well shoulder surgery didn’t hurt that much, the anaesthetic worked well and whilst it does ache a bit, sometimes the reattached tendon is worse, but trying to sleep in a hi-tech sling with large spacer pad is to say the least, bloody difficult. I have four minimal exercises to do twice a day, can remove the sling if sitting watching TV, but otherwise have to keep it on for 6 weeks and then start physio.

They did give me some pain killers and I have tried them a couple of times but am not keen on going too hard and tried Panadol, but it is the fact I cannot sleep on my back and the sling doesn’t make it easy to sleep at all, that is seeing me somewhat sleep deprived. Good for that not to be on the road and then of course I missed all the floods and associated issues, bugger.

So I have had a sort of quiet week, though did participate in a Zoom meeting with the NHVR and Healthy Heads in trucks and sheds, and agreed to accept the Presidents’ position with the Stop the River Street Bridge and Newell Highway Alliance group. Whilst we still want a better outcome for Dubbo and those who visit and or travel through for the next 20 plus years, the half-baked River St Bridge which will not solve a single traffic or flood problem for Dubbo, but will then see Dubbo left without further major road improvement till 2045 according to RMS documents.

With the bridge petition presented at the NSW Parliament whilst I was in hospital awaiting surgery, I couldn’t be there to support it, but the group of locals involved want to keep fighting for better outcomes for all of Dubbo and for the future. Moree and other towns are getting bypasses to improve the amenity of locals and they have a truckstop, Gilgandra has two, but Dubbo as the virtual crossroads of NSW does not have anywhere suitable for a meal, a shower and somewhere to have a break in a truck. You can do each individually, but not together.

A ring road will provide at least the opportunity for such facilities, improve traffic within Dubbo and the money for the River St bridge would be far better spent starting such a project. So that is my take on that.

Last Saturday I attended the AGM of the National Road Freighters Assoc (NRFA) via Zoom and was elected President. I have been involved with NRFA for many years, on their board as often the only employed driver amongst a passionate group of owner drivers and am thankful to the outgoing President Gordon McKinlay who has not only agreed to stay on the board, but to possibly step in with meetings if I am away and that alone will help me to do my best while continuing on with my other activities.

I thank all who have put their faith in me, all who have commented positively and will do all I can to see NRFA grow and represent both drivers and Owner drivers in on the road issues. It is without doubt the only group of grass roots fulltime on road drivers and I will not be backward in asking any of you who want things improved and or changed to consider joining NFRA and helping us try to achieve some of those things.

Just to round out the activities, I am also one of 6 ambassadors for Health in Gear and I thank them, the organisation and the ambassadors for their efforts to have something simple, but hopefully effective in providing information to drivers through their new website http://www.healthingear.com.au  and I again ask you to have a look and consider what you might do to improve your own health, for and on the road. They do have a support line 1800464327 available normal work hours and it is aimed to expand this into our normal work hours in the future.

No one can make you do anything to improve your own health and life, you have to want to. Do you think that if you lost weight, gave up smoking and or did some more exercise, it would kill you, or would it more likely make you healthier, happier, more able to survive the stresses of life on and off the road and quite likely extend your life? I can’t make you do it, but I can ask you to give it some thought, so please do and if you check out Health in Gear, there will be at least one tip and possibly many more that just might help you. Please give it a thought. So my arm is getting sore and typing left handed is taking me more than three times as long as normal, so now to video 2 in the Goodbye TIV series. Till next week Safe Traveling, Rod Hannifey.

28th March 2021 Video 1 of 4

Goodaye all, this is the first of 4 videos which will be self-explanatory. They are mine alone and all failures and failings to the standard of some of the past efforts with young Stephen at Whiteline Television, must not defer you from watching and promoting our Truckies Top Ten Tips, Rest Area and Caravan videos, all of which you can find at www.sharetheroad.net.au  and which with Stephen’s expertise, look so much better and far more professional. I will thank him here for his efforts, Thanks mate.

To every other person and sponsor who has contributed to the current TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle (TIV), thank you for that support and I hope you have been happy with my efforts. To all who ring me up, wave and say Goodaye, say thanks for my efforts, I am more than happy to help as and where I can, as long as you recognise I am an employed driver and can’t fix that much on my own, but will have a damn good try, if I think there is a chance I can help.

21st March 2021 Back from surgery.

Goodaye all. Surgery seems to have gone well Thursday evening and I flew home, perhaps a day too early Saturday and after little sleep from the awkward sling, the flight did have some repercussions, but luckily not inside anything that was moving. But no problems since then except sleeping with a large sling and pad. Doing very light exercises, but sling on for 6 weeks, then we will see. Doctor and hospital all excellent, let’s hope the results confirm it. So only a short note, one handed typing not going that well. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey,

18th March 2021 Goodbye to the current TIV

Goodaye all. Sorry for missing Sunday and you will think it strange for a post on a Thursday, but all will be revealed. It all went downhill from about Thursday, loading again back to Melbourne was OK, so on my fifth leg for the week, but we had 6 trucks in Melbourne and I was going to be the last in after unloading two drops of wool. I wasn’t sure when the first place opened and due to finally getting the new screen for the Teletrac device, we had been trying to meet up since November and finally did Wednesday in Melbourne.

There were some issues and it now needs a new modem, but the rest is working fine. Having taken longer than planned, I got out of Melbourne after 4, had a shower and tea at Lavington, then pulled up at a little village of Girrel (where there is now two green reflector bays) at 1AM. Got unloaded OK then went to load my wool, but it wasn’t ready, so lost a bit more time and then later down the road decided to have tea at the Caltex at Wodonga. I had read a post about good food and thought, I would give it a try. Food was good and very good value, then a mate turned up I hadn’t seen for ages and the talking went a bit longer than I planned and I didn’t get into Footscray till 12.30AM.

I had got a park, a fellow tapped on the door and I let him and the next bloke round me as they only had single loads, then after completing my 7 hour break, went in to unload. Done and off to second drop and found the dickhead driver, me, had been thinking of other things, as will follow, and not delivered all to the first drop. When loading, I had split the two drops on the two trailers, but in the meantime, forget how and missed some on the back of the front trailer, so after unloading, back again and was told, most people don’t like coming here once and you came back. I was very lucky then as when I left there were 3 full b-doubles lined up to go in.

So by now we had a load, but it was likely to have a late loading time, all good. Rang to check on 4PM load time as told and yes, load ready, come now at 3.15. Oh good. Got there, opened up, started loading, two drops again, and load numbers changed slightly, so modified my plan. Ol mate on the fork wanted to put the part load on the b trailer and then split the other drop over both, no way, started loading and had to have mezzanine floors up for number of pallets. He loaded front section, then found next lot of pallets would not fit under mezz, so unload and reload that section again. Loaded and back to the depot and fuel, we had been waiting for a delivery and saw trailer lights on, yet I hadn’t turned them on. MMMM. Rang our mechanic, explained, yes lights work etc, OK see how you go, but then I tuned the park lights on and the ignition came on, rang mechanic again, that is not good.

He was to chase Kenworth and after I rang back again and he said wait till tomorrow because Kenworth would not answer the phone, I said what about an auto elec?  So he tried them and they said they would be there in a while. Bloke turned up, explained and he said, do you have reversing lights on trailer? Yes. That is the problem. He had had it happen before, pulled the plug apart and disconnected the reversing lights and finally on the way. So pulled up at Barnawatha for bed at midnight, up and keen to go at 7AM, truck wouldn’t start. The auto loom has a problem and it was back. Lifted cab and removed fuses to rest, but no go. Rang mechanic, me again, need more help. Got Cummins from Albury had to finish another job, came and played, dropped cab and happened again, lift cab covered one possible wire, dropped cab, rang mechanic and told and said loom needs either replacement, big bucks or auto elec to sort, can’t do now so go and hope for best, yes OK.

This is getting long winded I know, but we are getting to the serious part now. So finally home 7PM Saturday night and with the need for a 24 hour break to keep me safe, meant I could not leave til 7PM Sunday to do my two timeslots Brisbane AM Monday, lucky we have good laws to keep us safe with insufficient flexibility to allow us to drive when fit and sleep when tired when nearly everything we do is affected and controlled by others.

Out 7PM Sunday night after making a quick video which you will see later, but I don’t have with me, bugger, to Gundi for a cat nap, into Brisbane, do first drop but no dock, round the block then back in, down to yard, swap trailers, back up for second slot which we were told was changed to 10AM after loading in Melbourne to be told, NO, 6PM tonight. Lying wretches. So now can’t load and get home.

Went to get load in morning, no, stocktake on, sorry not booked, wait and ring and wait and ring and OK, go and get this load. Loaded and back to yard, can you take this urgent pallet, yes fine and on the road.

The reason this was all a problem, was that in getting back to Dubbo at 11PM Tuesday, I was booked on a 10AM flight to Sydney Wednesday and still had to get all my gear out of the truck and trailers. Why is that you ask? Because after 9 years and 9 months in this my beloved TIV, I am stepping out of the truck and am flying to Sydney to have shoulder surgery and will be off for about 3 months.

Yes I may have been a bit keen trying to get an extra trip in, but I had allowed for a couple of hold ups as often happens, not 5 or 6. So it is goodbye to this set of trailers and the K200. Another driver will be going in them and I have asked him to recognise he may well get called up as Rod, it has been a long journey and that I don’t expect him to do anymore than look after it and do the right thing.

But I will be back. This timing for the surgery etc is all in yet another plan, to see me return with a new truck and trailers. I did not want to get out and then expect to get back in after such a time and whilst I have been working on this new TIV for years, it has only started to come together since December, but there is still a lot to sort and organise and I hope to have it ready when I am.

Next blog (and I will keep it going while off the road, the same for the Triple M spot) I will list all those who have helped make it happen, but I will thank everyone who has contributed here again and to all on the road, for now, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

7th March 2021

Goodaye all, just a quick note, had plans for the week end, but other things came along. Had plans to stay overnight in Melbourne for Friday morning, after loading Thursday, good easy load, and due to the freight we had carted sometimes before now ending up on the rail, only to have the train derail last week and screw up many freight plans, so trucks to the rescue again.

So instead of bolting Thursday and being home Friday evening, got an EBS problem half sorted Friday morning, could not arrange the next thing and then couldn’t solve my other problem at Albury. Never give up, it will get done. So off up the Hume to Albury, rang Vicroads with another list, 2 previous issues along with another request about the Broadford weighbridge being closed. A gent rang me back to tell me NHVR now control the bridge and I said, thanks, I will follow that up this afternoon.

Qued up, not normally here this time of day, got the truck and trailers washed, terrific job, thanks gents at the King of the Road Truckwash in Lavington, had to pull out just as the NHVR Owner Driver zoom meeting started, parked up and took part for the next hour.

As per the chat time at the Puma at Moree which the NHVR held on Tuesday past, with about 50 drivers talking and asking questions and some free meal vouchers supplied by the Road Safety Officer from the Moree Shire Council, some will say the NHVR has not solved all our problems, and nor is it NATIONAL. But they, with such meetings at Moree and others, along with this group I have been invited into, are giving us a chance to comment and contribute, so I do say, well done to all.

These Owner Driver meetings by the NHVR have been going on using zoom for some time. I do recognise and have said before, we do not get to contribute to many of the things that affect us on the road. NHVR has responsibility for many things, but not all and whilst complaining to them about truck rest areas, over which they have no control or jurisdiction might seem to be wasting time in some ways, it does make them aware of the challenges we face in being safe and complaint and I hope, then gives them more ammo to use against the states when they fail to provide what we need.

I did get a follow up call after the meeting, the Broadford bridge is having some work done hopefully next week and should be up and open after that for us to use to check weights. I did commend Vicroads when they left it on and open for us, but complained when they turned it off and we went in there and found it closed, only to have to drag your loaded b-double back up the long hill. A sign saying it was closed is not too much to ask. Pity RMS or whoever they are this week can’t do the same, but they can spend $2 million putting up a roof at Daroolbalgie. MMMMMMMMMMMMM!

I raised a list of issues, there was a presentation about the work of Healthy Heads in Trucks and Sheds and I have asked to be more involved with their rest area group. Let us hope this help gets to those who need it more. I then headed off to get into Dubbo late Friday, Saturday morning helped my son pick up a car with another son and then home to have a shower and attend the Livestock, Bulk and Rural Carriers (LBRCA) meeting in Dubbo. I spoke there seeking their support for the Stop the River St Bridge campaign, asked for support with the green reflector marking of truck bays and put some questions to the two lovely Transport for NSW ladies in attendance.

The MC didn’t want me picking on them and giving them a hard time, and as an invited guest, I had no association backing as such, but they took my questions in their stride, have given me contact details and I hope we can work together to get better outcomes for all on the road in the future.

No association can do much without passionate and committed members. The LBRCA do a good job in representing their members and have been successful in getting up a Farmgate scheme that allows access to farms on roads not already approved for b-doubles and the like. Well done to them and those who have participated and got this up and running in 6 council areas so far. Getting Transport for NSW to have people attend and answer questions as well, is another feather in their cap. They held their AGM, voting in the new committee before I got there and then had a dinner, which I attended. They also have a young driver of the year award and the winner gets a trip, subject to covid to investigate and finds ways to improve the industry. I do not have the young fellows name, but did congratulate him and also think it is a good way to recognise those who make more than the normal effort in this job.

So a finger in some more pies, some minor steps forward, some agreement from the Transport ladies that maybe they do need more driver input, particularly once the jobs are started to be designed etc, some work to follow up with after the NHVR meeting and now trying to get sorted and off to Brisbane. No rest for the wicked, they say. Till next week, Safe Travelling.

28th February 2021 A Moree focus.

Goodaye all, this week a Newell Highway and specifically Moree area focus. Back on this goat track, geez I missed it, the road to the Isa is not that much better in places, but neither can touch the roads in the West I have travelled on recently.

In raising a number of issues at the Newell Highway Taskforce meeting, I also got to ask some questions of other attendees. I asked about the toilet at Gurley, why is it half in the parking bay and closed already. It seems the adjacent land is owned by the Australian Rail Track Corporation and they flat refused to allow any use of their land. Thanks a lot.

Now again, we might think it then should have been simply moved along a bit, but the problem with it now closed, is due to the height and it floods. Anyone who has ever parked there in the rain, would have expected that. It is being addressed, just a pity money has been wasted, or we could have had another toilet built for use somewhere even better.

I was told that Tycannah Creek rest area is to be upgraded and have followed up asking to see the plans. That bay is one if not the only one with decent shade, certainly in that neck of the woods and whilst they will add a toilet, I fear they will destroy the shade and I will be fighting against that. I will be asking them to consider building an additional site and leaving Tycannah as it is. I would welcome your thoughts.

The next problem is the parking around the Puma at Moree. We certainly welcomed it there and it gets full quickly, much worse in harvest and many have been parking in the streets surrounding it. Now technically it is illegal, but council have been ignoring it till now, for two reasons. The first is that a village will be built on the adjoining land for Inland Rail workers, so it will have a large population increase in the area and they will have vehicles and people coming and going for the next few years.

The second problem is what I want to seek input on. In discussions with council, they raised the problem of piss bottles being thrown and left full on the land and then people defecating there as well. It got to the point, that they were getting complaints from locals and their workers complained about the issue of cleaning it up and this stuff being hit by mowers etc. Council agreed to then leave the grass grow, please remember again, they could have policed the one hour parking, but have not since the site opened, but then some shit on the road and left full piss bottles there as well.

So thanks to the untidy lazy and stupid idiots who can’t walk to the servo and or empty a pee bottle etc, we will lose anther parking area and have pissed off the council and those who have to clean up after them. We are all getting older and we know good food is hard to come by and sometimes bad food has repercussions you must act on fast, but to do this when the servo has a functioning toilet less than mostly 200 or 300 metres away, is not just a disgrace, it is simply pathetic.

When the idiots who do this next want a toilet or place to park, they will whinge and sook that we don’t have places and we all know that is true now. So what chance have I got in asking for more, when people behave this way? I would like your views please.

The Puma has had to close the showers due to lousy building and the site I am told is sinking and cracking pipes. Bad work has had us affected again, yet if we can’t even pee etc without making a mess for others, no wonder we are struggling to get decent facilities for truckies. What can we do to change this?

NHVR will be holding a discussion group for drivers and farmers at the Puma at Moree next Tuesday, 2nd March from 10 AM till 6 PM. The Moree Council Road Safety Officer has provided some funds to give out meal vouchers to drivers who attend and make a reasonable effort to participate towards better road safety outcomes for all. I have spoken with the council RSO re the issues raised above as mentioned, but would like to thank them for this effort as well. It is the first time I am aware of such a gesture. Safe Travelling Rod Hannifey.

22nd February 2021 A triple to Mt Isa.

Goodaye all, it is hot here in Mt Isa and I have just finished helping unload the three trailers I brought up as a triple roadtrain. I was asked by a driver last night, “What are you doing up this way?” and then followed up with ”I haven’t seen you with a triple on much” and then another who offered me to come round his quad with my triple, as he was turning off a bit further up and I asked did he know about the green reflectors?

He said he had seen them and thought that someone had used them to mark a parking bay, so I explained the aims and intents of the simple idea and why they are there. These sites are paved and big enough for a triple or quad at 53.5 metres long, but in the dark, they were not marked in any way, so by the time you see them you simply cannot just hit the brakes and pull in at a gross weight of 100 tonne or more with the quads.

Now the drivers of these rigs still need to have a pee at times, they have to deal with wildlife on the road and if they hit one, they need to be able to stop and inspect for damage, they might need a break or kip to get to the next rest area and there are some big gaps between Longreach, Winton and Cloncurry.

So it has been a wild start to the year, Port Hedland and have any of you seen the damage wrought there behind us, roads completely washed away by cyclones and we were so lucky to have beaten the first cyclone, let alone the two more that followed and did all the damage.

I have received a corporate response from AMPOL, saying it is all commercial and thank you for my contact and please keep in touch, of course I am paraphrasing a bit, but from where I sit, it was a fob off. Now if they were to say we closed it being a Caltex and are refurbishing and reopening as an Ampol, then we are all happy to get better facilities and new sites to use, but no, so they will get another email.

A little bit of playing photographer while on my 24 hour break in Brisbane.

Again playing photographer, this in a parking bay north of Kynuna. You can see the triple going southbound and mine is 53 meters long as well. Please consider a UHF radio if you are going to travel into remote Australia and for your sake and ours, do not attempt to overtake a ROADTRAIN without sufficient roadspace and vision.

Same goes for Revenue NSW, they have refused my review, even with photos of my Teletrac Navman system, which cannot be tampered with without showing those changes and where and when they were done, so I have asked for a second review. Watch this space.

In this roughly 2000 k trip from Brisbane to Mt Isa, I have only had one real incident. A motorhome decided to overtake me and considering he had been there a while and I was 53 metres long and near 100 tonne travelling at about 90 kph, there are not a lot of safe places to overtake. However old mate decided to have a go, but with less than one k of road visible, he’s off. He finally got past me as the broken lines end and we approached a blind corner. After getting a friendly wave from the female partner as they passed the cab, I showed my dismay and concern for his safety and mine by trying to burn a hole in the back of his van. Less than 30 seconds later, a 4wd ute came the other way. Had he been 25 seconds earlier, it would have been not just interesting, it could have been life threatening.

Then the bloke behind him decided to pass, at least he did it with k’s of empty road in front, but did so at 91 kph, taking more than a kilometre to get past and then within 30 minutes, I was gaining on him, he had slowed, I had not speed up, so why pass me in the first place? With a little bit of light, he moved away and left me behind, but it can be a lonely road up this way. Last time before Christmas, leaving Cloncurry nearing sunset, I think I saw four trucks and two cars, all going north with not a vehicle going my way in well over four hours on the road.

Have to get some sleep to load and hit the road tomorrow, hope to be back in Brissie Thursday and home Friday or Saturday, for a special day, Monday. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

14th February 2021 Some good and some bad.

Goodaye all, today we have some good news and some bad news. Or do we have news that is bad and then news that is worse and no matter how I string it, I will piss off someone and not just someone, but some seriously big players in our lives on the road.

I got a ticket from a Police officer, a random (or was it?) stop, looked till he found something, would not listen to my explanation, or let me look at what he was charging me for, then I wrote with details and photos which I believe exonerate me from the offence. So from my point of view, I have not committed an offence, I may have made a clerical error, but have backed up my view and so now to court. A $450 fine for exceeding driving hours by up to 15 minutes, which I dispute and my logbook and EWD confirm, but no warning, no consideration of my record and no way is the alleged offence worthy of such a penalty. Even more so when I then had a 7 and a quarter hour break.

Why are the police allowed to fine us for transport law they are not correctly taught to understand? Why can they work a double shift and get paid overtime and then charge us a ridiculous penalty for a minor breach? Why are we cheated out our weeks wages by someone that is not able to be overseen by a stand alone third party? From my view, with the HVNL being overseen by the NHVR, I have no problem being stopped and inspected and if treated fairly, getting a ticket if I am wrong or in breach of something regarding safety, not just my own, but that of other road users as well.

Then I have heard from two other drivers within days of the review, rejecting and saying they cannot withdraw the penalty (a complete lie) of similar abuses of power and surprise, surprise, again both by Police. I will not bore you with the details here, but they will be the start of a list for the current Senate Inquiry into a Safe and Viable Road Transport industry. No wonders drivers are leaving this job and I am sure many of you have seen the release or recent mental health issues and concerns with truckies, no bloody wonder when we are treated like this. More to come.

I did get invited to attend the Newell Highway Taskforce Committee meeting in Parkes (thanks as always to RPT for helping me get there and giving me the time) and was then accepted as a member and proceeded to give a list of Newell issues. Some I have pursued previously, some will now gain some more prominence, as the RMS or whoever they are this week, was not aware of a couple, but is now and I aim to follow up with more. Having come back from the west and roads you do not see here, again I ask why?

Lastly I must welcome back AMPOL, instead of Caltex, but from a truckies view, they are coming in and going backwards at a rate of knots. Why would you take back control of the servo in Longreach and then close the bloody thing down when you now leave us with a 400k gap for any services? Closing the kitchen at Yarroweah, closing Cunnamulla altogether and telling us they have a truck network and are aiming to help us!!!!!!!!!!! Really!!!!!!!!! I have emailed them and will wait for an answer. What do you think? We are going backwards in so many ways and who of you can or will, do something? The lack of submissions to the HVNL review will leave us open to those who don’t have to live by our rules, changing them to punish, penalise and control us even more and once it is done, it will never change back and only continue to get worse, because someone else should have done it.

I am not as friendly this week as you might see. Something else I am working on has hit a couple of snags, it will still happen, but not as I hoped, planned and intended. There are not enough hours in the day and I am off to work after tea, but will keep trying and that is all I ask of any of you who care. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.