5th May 2019 Road Safety week start.

Goodaye all. Next week is National Road Safety Week and I will straight up ask any who can, to share our videos from http://www.sharetheroad.net.au I have a number of radio interviews planned and have sent emails to many other press contacts from over the last few years. I will pursue other local and national media as well. Thank you to those in our media press and industry associations who have helped share them. We do appreciate it. To those who haven’t, I must ask why not?

Stephen McCarthy cameraman and editor, Jessica Ferrari producer and Nicole Rutledge and myself, all worked together to produce the videos and they all want the same as I do. To have people see them and gain some knowledge not normally available to those who only drive cars or bikes. As a truckie, I drive cars as well and some young learners will have been in a truck if in a trucking family, but many will never have the chance.

These videos aim to offer a truckies view to help other drivers understand the actions of truck drivers. Learning after making a mistake, could cost you your life and will also then affect any others involved, be they passengers or the truckie who simply could not avoid hitting you, after you have made a mistake.
We all know young drivers think they are ten foot tall and bulletproof, (like we all were) and it will never happen to them. Those who do suffer such an event, may get away with a scare, or they may never get another chance to learn.

We would like to see these videos widely distributed, used by clubs and groups and we will pursue the road authorities to include them in driver license testing, all with one aim, to try and do our bit to make the roads safer for all. The videos are available and free to all and we thank the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) for the funding to produce them and make them available at no cost to any who can use them.

There will be many other events and parts of road safety week. If you do nothing else to be a part of it, please consider how you drive on the road. Do you see it as a privilege that you have earned by learning the rules and passing the test? Or do you see it as a right? If so, why? None of us “owns” the road. The road is provided by governments to allow us the mobility we all crave today. Yet the road is the workplace of truckies and other drivers who live and work on the road. It may not be recognised as such under the law as yet, but please consider what it is like to “live” on the road.

Away from home most of the time, away from family and friends, those you love. Not a normal lifestyle where you can plan to be at a family event, under the watchful eye of not just every other road user, but the authorities too. And unfortunately, most of those who make the rules we operate under, do not have to live under those rules themselves and are more than happy to tell us how and when to do it, without any clue what it is like to live in a truck.

Too few rest areas, little shade, even fewer toilets and even less for women truckies, and no parking when the holiday season is on. As has just happened over Easter with many truck spots at service centres, often the only place we can access toilets and meals and showers, and even in designated truck parking areas or truckstops, taken by the holidaying public with little thought to all the food and fuel they use, being delivered by the same trucks they are denying basic facilities to.

Not all truckies are perfect, I certainly am not, but I do try hard to do my best, be compliant with the law, share the road with others and to get home safely each trip. It is true, trucks are bigger and if you are smaller as in any physical encounter, the bigger thing will do more damage to the smaller thing, you in your car. Might is not right, whether you are a car ignoring a motorbike, a bigger 4wd ignoring a car or a truck doing it. Yet if you recognise and respect the size and weight of trucks (remember we carry everything you use in your life), then you will improve road safety for all. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

22nd April 2019 Happy Easter.

Goodaye all. Home for my one day of Easter yesterday after attending the Stone the Crows Festival in Wagga Wagga for two days, then off to Brisbane today. Got loaded in Melbourne Thursday, out reasonably early, up to the King of the Road Truckwash in Albury to get the TIV and me too, all washed up for the show. Thanks for a terrific job, boys, it hadn’t been done for a couple of weeks and came up pretty well for its age. I grabbed a shower while in the que. When we were both all clean, up the road to Henty Man rest area for the night and had it all to myself, which would never happen normally with trucks and caravans often filling it.

Up early doing the detailing, touch ups and interior clean for a good few more hours, then filmed driving into the mass of caravans and motorhomes on site at lunchtime. I was last in and had to wait for all the others to arrive and get to their sites. Nearly 500 and almost at capacity for the grounds, but the range of activities for those attending going from craft, many different information sessions and entertainment from the cocoa club with bedtime stories, to comedy, music and Little Pattie performing one night.

Some stay for the four days of Easter and some for a total of 7 days. This is my fourth year attending and for the first time my second eldest daughter Katie, took part with me on stage. We launched the Truckies Top Tips videos, showing all 9 videos with comments and questions from the audience, along with covering the usual discussion points of trucks and vans on the road, rest areas and the like. A good crowd, very interactive and we kept going for an hour and a half and still had a mob of people at the end with further questions. The TIV was on display just outside the venue with my banners covering the tips, the TIV and one about last year being the tenth year of the TIV on the road.

The organisers had a survey form printed out for those who were new to the Stone the Crows and we had a few left over which I gave out on Saturday for my second session, which was more about my Churchill Fellowship trip last year. The few copies of Owner Driver I had went quickly along with many business cards and I hope to gain a few more followers and comments in the future.

Stephen from Whiteline Television, the man behind both the “TRUCK That Australia” videos we do and also the camerman, producer and video editor for all the Truckies Top Tens just released, filmed some of the session each day and we did the next “Truck That Australia” episode, introducing Katie as our newest team member. Stephen is a full time truckie as well and worked Friday night, before driving down from Canberra to do the filming at the event.

I must say all at the Stone the Crows were very welcoming with Katie making the same comment, the people who organise this event, all the volunteers and those who attend, go out of their way to say hello and are the friendliest bunch of people you would hope to meet. Thanks again for the invite, for the participation in the sessions, the survey replies, the entertainment and the comradery.

The response from the truckies Top Tips videos has been excellent, but any of you with group associations, please share them round. They were funded by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator through the National Heavy Vehicle Road Safety Initiative and are available online at no cost, specifically so they can be widely used. You can see and distribute them from http://www.sharehteroad.net.au and we hope they help make the roads safer for all.

I would like to see all trucking associations and groups get behind the videos and help to get them out to as many people as possible. The more we help car drivers understand some of our issues, the safer we will all be on the road. Yes, truckies make mistakes too, but we do not go to work to be involved in crashes, no matter what anyone else wants to try and tell you. The job, the traffic, the delays not only on the road but in loading and unloading on some sites, the restrictions and penalties under which we operate, all of these often make it harder to be able to drive when you are fit and sleep when you are tired. Yes we must have rules and yes, not all people will follow them, but all we ask is for some understanding of the job, suitable and sufficient rest areas, safer roads, better education of car drivers, some recognition of the lifestyle and its problems and the flexibility to get the job done safely for all on the road, without being fined half a weeks wages for being 15 minutes over time. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

17th April 2019 Truckies Top Tips

Goodaye all. Yesterday the first of the Truckies Top Tips for sharing the road was released by the NHVR and is available on their website and on http://www.sharetheroad.net.au In 1999 I had one of those days when you wonder where a car driver, or two, got their license. I even stopped at a little town pending the third “things all come in threes” event and hoping it would not happen, to give it some thought.

I considered what I could do to try and prevent such events. We simply do not teach new drivers about sharing the road with trucks. We didn’t then and I am afraid we still don’t. As I drive cars as well as trucks, I have some understanding of both, but so many car drivers will never get the chance to either sit in a truck, or talk with a truckie, to understand our issues or point of view.

Therefore a car only driver, is unlikely to be aware of what it is like to drive a truck and without that opportunity, they may only learn of their mistake of jumping directly in front of a truck and then go, “Oh my God I should not have done that” just before the impact that may kill them. Then it is far too late.

So that day, has led to this group of videos, even recognising not every driver will see them, as much as I would like to see that happen. Even if it became a mandatory part of the licensing system (and that is what I would like to see) to watch these tips and then include in the test questions more about trucks, it will take years to get more people both educated and then to reduce the number of crashes, between trucks and cars.

When you consider that the vast majority of fatal crashes in Australia between cars and trucks, are the fault of the car driver and this is the same in the USA and was only recently recognised in Canada. I was amazed when they released the figures and virtually said, we did not know and what can be done to reduce this problem. They are going to do a study!

I will be happy to debate the figures with anyone and whilst there are figures ranging from 70% to over 90%, car at fault, you must all recognise statistics can be made to say whatever you want. The fact remains that the majority of those car/truck fatalities are caused by the car and we have done very little to this point to change that, at least from where I sit.

So I would ask you to share these videos, to talk about them with your friends, particularly with those who do not drive trucks and to those with children about to get their license. The worst that will happen is that you may give them some information they may not see any value in, or they may not recognise for its worth at the time. You might just save someone’s life. It is up to you. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

6th April 2019 ATA Convention.

Goodaye all. Currently at Sydney airport waiting for a flight back to Dubbo after attending the Australian Trucking Association Convention in Perth. It has been a few years since I attended one, but this year there was a rest area focus and I was asked if I would participate.

I got in late Wednesday after a long delay in Sydney, so missed the welcome drinks. Thursday had a “What is different in WA” start and then after release of the latest NTI figures with a couple of major issues raised, a panel with NTC/NHVR and others and after lunch were break out sessions. I attended the rest area and driving hours ones and would have liked to go to the image one, but it was on the same time as one of the others.

Finishing up the day, an informal dinner on the water with Thermo King supplying the latest in a long series of hand painted frig units up for auction, was lucky with the rain and on Friday morning a very serious session on Mental health and well being. Not only a problem in our industry, but on making a comment, I was assured by presenter and ATA Chairman, Geoff Crouch that all comments would be recorded, investigated and where and when possible, pursued with fervour.

This issue has been talked about for a long time and it was said by many, talking about it does not solve this problem, let alone the others the industry faces. However, I alone or you or anyone else on their own, has buckley’s chance of seeing anything major change or improve on their efforts alone. I am keen to work with the ATA, to contribute as and where I can and support their efforts where I see a chance to gain some improvement. Without members no association can “do” much and without members input, efforts and support, nothing much is likely to be achieved.

But if people do not raise issues, seek change and improvements through such groups, individuals will never achieve as much. There is still a role for such and I am not saying don’t have a go on your own, but you must choose your battles and do the best with your army, pity you can’t really choose you foes, they tend to come for you anyway.

Further sessions, lunch and a Q and A with an ABC TV flavour saw the RSRT get the audience very much involved. Senator Glen Sterle on the panel gave as good as he got, along with an assurance the first one was a balls up as it came to us, the next one will not happen that way and that the industry would be involved all the way with one aim, to get a better result for all drivers and owners in the industry.

Coming away there is still much to do and some will say, nothing has changed, but what are they, or you, doing to get that change underway? I sincerely hope many things will flow from this. I am not that blind or stupid that I think all will be solved tomorrow, but nothing will change if no one even makes a start.
Thank you to the ATA for a well run and organised event and to all who attended for their efforts. Now we must pursue what was started.

Thank you to the ATA and to Heather Jones from Pilbara Heavy Haulage Girls and Success Transport for their assistance in attending, to Heather and Yogi for video interviews for “TRUCK THAT Australia”, to all who made me welcome and to all who said Goodaye. Also to those who stood up and had a say in any of the forums, the more who contribute, the better the outcome. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

3rd April 2019 Our roads!

Goodaye all. A big week this week, slow to start and then running all the way till the end. Lots of rain, lets hope my request for a rain dance and the issues of the drought helped it happen. You have to take the credit where you can. I was asked by a couple of clever workmates, when did I get brown truck, as that is how it looks a bit

Our roads now are generally good, but it is the bad bits which do all the damage to us, not so much you in your car, but geez it hits us in trucks. Of course that impact goes through the truck and causes much of the wear and tear and mechanical issues we then get either booked for and or have to pay to fix and maintain. This only decreases safety and increases the cost of transport. That impact then goes back into the road as well and causes further damage. Is this a chicken and egg issue? Did the bad road cause the truck to damage the road? If the road was good, then no impact into the driver, the truck, or the road.

Can we have perfect roads then that will not cause any of these problems? No! We have a large country with vast distances in between and a small population and don’t have the perfect land everywhere for roads. We have good land in some places for crops and we have good land for minerals, but we also have land useless for either and then we have roads and they rely on local land for the base and materials to use. They are only as good as they are built, would you agree?

Yes we can build them cheap and spend a fortune maintaining them, ignoring the damage and costs to road transport and I am not complaining about my job. What I am saying is if you live outside of a capital city, you need trucks to deliver things to you and to take crops and minerals away, if only to a rail head etc and if you don’t live along a railway line, you need a truck to get those things to move.

So do you agree that if we build and maintain roads to the highest standard, then that must be better than building them cheap, doing sub standard repairs and letting the trucks and drivers cop the impacts and the transport companies cop the maintenance costs and the consumer, cops a higher fee too.
Do you know of the Pareto Principle, the 80/20 rule. My view is that if you fix the worst 20% of road deformities, failures and impacts, you would then remove 80% of the damage and possible contribution to crashes, caused by such failures. This of course includes potholes and all sorts of road issues. Having safer roads is good for all road users and with it being my workplace as well, better and safer for all truckies too.

So how do we do that? We must help by reporting such issues to the authorities as they will not always know or see such thing thousands of kilometres away. They then must have the funds to do the repairs and must act in reasonable time. If we had a National Road Standard, then we could more likely guarantee better roads and improved safety and les cost to all. But what are my chances of getting such a thing up? Perhaps not so good, but will that stop me from pushing? No way. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

24th March 2019 Churchill Fellowships and drought.

Goodaye all. Applications are currently open for Churchill Fellowships till the 30th April 2019 for travel in 2020. It had been suggested to me by a couple of people over the last few years that I should consider applying. One friend had also done a study tour some years before, but I had invested a lot of time and many had contributed to the TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle and I believed I had to give them my all as well, so kept it in the back of my mind for some years.

The Churchill Trust is a well-run and planned organisation, that does look after those who become involved and does not just let you do a trip and that’s it. There is a rigorous and detailed application process with over 1,000 applicants each year and the range of topics and studies is enormous. There are some sponsored fellowships for specific or particular fields, but there are also general ones for everything else.

If you have a passion and believe you could improve the lives of others by learning how and what is done overseas in your field, give it a go. That is what it is all about, learning and then, helping others. You can look at their promo video at https://goo.gl/kf1b5L and I wish you every success.
You can read previous reports, (you are required to do one on your return) at the Churchill website, including my own of just over 60 pages with photos or you can visit http://www.truckingnation.com.au to see some of my videos and details on my Churchill Study Tour on “Trucks and Road Safety” in TRUCK That Australia over the last few episodes.

Maybe you could go and learn a raindance and save us all. The drought continues to worsen in places and we have floods in others. Where will it end and I don’t think it will be long, before it starts to bite into many who think they are immune in the cities. I hope it will come good before that for the sake of all Australians, but I also recognise many simply do not understand the breadth and scope and the impact it will have if it continues.

We can continue to export our mineral wealth, but we all need food, both here and overseas and we supply a lot of it. None of it will grow without rain, no cattle, no sheep and no crops and you can’t eat dirt. I don’t know how to fix it, but it bears raising and let us hope it improves soon and quickly without the floods that often follow and then do more harm as well.
Off now to the library for some more audiobooks to keep me entertained on the road and my mind off the worries of the world. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

17th March 2019 To blitz or not to blitz?

Goodaye all. Here I am stuck in Sydney for the week-end. It has a good side, I did get to the Eagles concert with my daughter on Thursday night, their last in Australia. Two and a half hours of music and toe tapping and singing along quietly (so as not to spoil it for others close by) was a most enjoyable evening and the company was magnificent. Of course, one of the problems of the job is not always being there, or even being available for your children when they might need you. Thank you to my daughter for the company and all my children, if they pooled together for the Chrissy present.

But now back to being alone and away from home and family, I am trying to catch up here. Many of you will have seen the recent blitz on truckies. I would welcome your thoughts on how you see things. I feel we are blamed by default for the actions of the few and I fail to see how hounding those trying to do the right thing for every minor thing (and then telling the world you caught as all out for serious breaches) tells the truth and may well do more harm than good.

Five truckies testing positive to drugs out of 1,500 and one to alcohol from 1,200 are too many, but please go and test the same number of car drivers and then tell me, we are the problem. I am asking for all the breaches to be listed, not just we got x number of logbook breaches and x number of defects. How many of the logbook offences were minor and how many of the defects the same?

Would I be overly cynical if I said the more they can report, the more it justifies the next blitz? How much do such exercises cost and would that money be better spent doing something to educate car drivers about sharing the road with trucks? Twice in the last week, including coming into Sydney, I have had cars try to push in front from a merging lane on my left, when I had traffic beside me and nowhere to go. They won’t speed up to “merge” safely and join the traffic at freeway speed and they won’t slow down and pull in behind me, I am expected to slow my b-double to let them in and they will get all irate and abuse me and wave their arms, if I don’t.

The law says merging traffic must give way to other traffic, let alone the fact I am on their right and take more to slow and get going again, thence delaying all traffic behind me as well. We do have blind spots in the region beside the cab and who even knows, let alone considers this? Had I not seen them for any number of reasons, had they hit me, they would have blamed me till the Police came and explained, they were in the wrong, yet would have told all their friends how the truck ran into them!

The other one is cars must get past the truck to take an exit, they can’t wait behind the truck and take the exit, no they must get past the truck, then cross two or even three lanes at the last possible second with no room or regard for their safety or anyone else’s. Do you think they want to be involved in a crash or killed? Do you truly think we do? Of course not on both counts, but then why do something so stupid, with a truck that will not even feel you?

Were you taught about sharing the road with trucks? Who by and what did they teach you? What was included in your learning to drive, about trucks? Let me know please and I welcome your comments on the above as well. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

10th March 2019 Oh for more time!

Goodaye all. Just a quick piece this week, much to do and too little time. Youngest daughter bought me a ticket for Xmas to see the Eagles in Sydney later this week, so working towards that at the moment. I have seen very few concerts, always on the road it seems. A mate wrote a song with that title, though more towards a singer who drives trucks and so is on the road for work and then also for his hobby, music as well.

Me too in that way, on the road for work and for my hobby, road safety and the TIV too. I put out my rest area paper to industry and others last week, with one reply so far. The ATA is planning a big rest area forum and discussion at their conference in April and I hope it will build on the current momentum, because we are simply going backward at the moment. How do we manage our fatigue, keep safe, let alone go to the toilet with few places on the road?

My next push is for a national road standard and I am working on putting in a serious complaint to TMR about some bits of road I have been asking to have fixed now for over 4 years. It is our workplace and you all expect to be safe in yours, don’t you, so why must we, the drivers, be the only ones doing all the hard work to stay alive, let alone be safe in our workplace on the road?
The roads are not up to a safe standard in places, those we share them with are not trained to share them with us and everyone says we have to be safe, yet few others care.

Do you think the roads should be deemed our workplace and how do we go about it?

It is frustrating to get things done at the moment, roads, rest areas, driver education and not just car drivers, we have to lift our game too, but with our crash rates down even more than car crashes, would you agree we are if not improving as much as we would all like, but we are trying and doing something. The pity is we do not seem to be getting any recognition, the authorities are taking credit, but I fear they think their actions have done it but have not, at least not to the extent they claim.

Nothing is as simple as we have more bigger trucks, so less crashes. Or is it that we have better technology in the trucks? We are more compliant than ever, yet the authorities still want the fines and seem to be hell bent on punishing us out of our wages. A fellow tells me his friend got a ticket for not putting 15 minutes in his logbook when he bought it. The fact he was out shopping with his wife at the time did not stop the officer diving him a $600 fine. Is that fair and reasonable? I have asked what he is going to do, I would fight it and until I see the ticket, I will reserve any further comment, but his is not the only one I deem overzealous. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

3rd March 2019 Stories, good and bad.

Goodaye all. In my audio book reviews just published on “Audiobooks for the road” on Facebook, I spoke of Les Norton an Aussie character in a book and that I should, (in my spare time) write books about an Aussie truckie. The only trouble is, you would have to come up with stories that would only reinforce the negative perception held of truckies generally. Stories of bad behaviour sells papers and books and no one wants to read of a bloke that just does his job and lives his life.

Now last week, I could say I was not where I was supposed to be in my b-double, had to unload where I could not without splitting trailers, got messed about and told one thing when it meant another re loads etc, then went to a place I had been before, only to find someone had changed the road and I ended up in a worse place, where I should not have been in Melbourne. The beach looked good and the looks from the shoppers were interesting and I managed to do a U turn where I would not normally do so and so far, have not invoked the ire of the authorities.

Now none of that is unusual for a bloke who drives a b-double, but unless I tell you I carried a load of gold, stole myself a new truck, found a dead body or made a fortune on an illegal load, would you read such a story and not think bad of me and us? Yes it is fiction, but I have spent 20 years now trying to show a good side and that some of us do care and writing exciting stories, no matter how much they were made up, would I think only reinforce the bad opinion of truckies. What do you say?

One day I will write a book about the TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle, but that will have to be when I have that spare time. Maybe then as a true story of something unusual for a truckie to do and for so long, it might interest a few, but outside of that, how do we get to the mainstream with a good story? I have tried magazines and others with the aim of showing a different side with very little success, but if I was involved in a crash, killed someone or was caught drugged of my face, then I would get all the press I didn’t then want.

There are few books of the good old days and even less of the current ones, but I would welcome your suggestions of you have found a good one.

On the other side last week, I had one bloke tell me I had many detractors, but he thought I did a good job and at sites where I had never loaded before, had staff, forkies, drivers and others, ask about the truck and why it had so many photos and sponsors. A couple were long time readers of my column in Owner Driver (19 years this year) and others seemingly fans of the truck and my efforts and that is nice to be recognised for good instead of bad. But those who disagree rarely say it to your face and are generally those who will whinge about things not being fixed, but do little if anything but that, to see them changed. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

23rd February Home Sweet Home.

Goodaye all. It is good to be home and visit the family and the dogs didn’t bite me, thank goodness.

But as a mate said when passing me on the way home on Friday, no rest for the wicked. Got some work done on the truck and trailers Friday afternoon, damn puncture from Adelaide leaked again, had to remove and fix not one, but both patches, bad enough doing it once, but lucky I have the Central Tyre Inflation (CTI) system to get me home.

Still more to do, but others wanted to go home, what is it with people? Hoped to get some more done Monday, but a call this morning, means an earlier loading time and have to reset my floors first, so much earlier start and maybe after loading, get a few more small jobs done and then off to Brissie again.

I have just finished reading the Austroads Guidelines for Heavy Vehicle Rest Areas, all 58 pages and it is terrific to have new and better guidelines. I contributed to the old ones before 2005 when they were released and that was a fight at times, not just with the authorities. I wrote, not emailed, 6 pages and was told, “No one else raised these things”, but in the end, there was only one diagram and it seems, many only looked at that and did not read the document, hence too many herringbone parking bays that provide no shade, no separation and are difficult to get in and out of, let alone you can’t open your bunk door for fear of getting it torn off, let alone the noise issue.

One of my passengers in the TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle was Mr Paul Retter AM, CEO of the National Transport Commission and one of the things I asked him for on that trip was to update the rest area guidelines and whilst it has taken a while, it is completed and I thank him for getting this started.

The only problem is, the new guidelines, will not in themselves, see any more rest areas built. That is the responsibility of the road agencies and thus far, we have been falling behind. So, in two weeks I will have a new document to put out seeking that to change and would welcome any thoughts and suggestions to see that materialise.

So as not to get thrown out of home after so short a stay thus far and having more to follow up and complete tomorrow to keep the TIV and I relevant and up to date, I will wish you all a good night. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.