5th July 2020 Part two. Roadtrain Triple to Darwin.

Goodaye all. Big week for green reflectors on Facebook this week, they got an enormous airing on caravan sites. The fellow who runs the Truck Friendly Facebook page put up a post, suggesting green reflector bays could be a good spot for a vanner to slow, pull into and then allow a truck to pass. He did show a photo of one enroute from Bundaberg which was a very wide paved shoulder, perhaps even ideal for what he suggested. However not all GRBs are paved, many are dirt and even then, some don’t have perfect edges, but can still be suitable for our needs, when formal bays are too few and far between.

He had put up posts before about the GRBs, but without the “getting us past”, suggestion, though with little responce. This time it went beserk, many shares and many comments of what a good idea, should be across Australia etc. Ken did call me to let me know (as did many others, thanks all) and I did reply to many comments and also put up some posts with further explanation. Ken too came back and explained further, detailing (after we talked about the photo and site he used in the original post) not all are paved, some may not be suitable, though not all may have seen these extra details.

In this second photo of the dirt bay, you can clearly see the skidmarks where a truck has seen the bay at the last second (most likely before the green reflectors were fitted) and tried to stop. There are guidelines for the sites that require good line of site, safe entry and exit, suitable surface and big enough for a vehicle using that road to fit and be clear of the road etc, so not just any bit of dirt is marked.

This site may well suit a caravan pulling over to let a truck get past and again, if this is simply an extra use that helps one driver or prevents one crash or even near miss, then I am happy to have started the idea and to see it even better utilised. All we need now is for it to become national. I did do a radio interview during my roadtrain trip last week and raised the idea there, as I have in every state in the past, but I cannot contact every district in every state and even if I could, I can only then ask, “Do you know of the Green Reflector Marking of Informal Truck Bays?” Someone much higher up needs to push it along.

There were some truckies replied, some were fair, please don’t use the sites for camping etc, some were rude, ridiculous and or over the top. Ken came back again detailing he had not suggested they were for camping, they must be left for trucks, but that both TMR Qld and RMS NSW confirmed they are not just for trucks in a legal sense. In such cases, a fair and reasoned reply will always work better than abuse. Telling vanners to “STAY OUT OF OUR BAYS” etc might make you feel good, but will often do more harm than good and we are supposedly in the good books now, so why be a dick about it.

Anyone who took more than one minute to read any of the original post or the extended updates must agree the idea of letting vanners know about the sites and suggesting if seen, they call up a truck which is following and then help us get around them, or even if they need to stop instead of in the middle of nowhere, can only be a possible benefit. Anything that helps us both to share the road safely must be accepted in that vain. There were of course some vanners who said, “Why should I move over” or “Will the trucks move over for us” and both of these comments show some people care little of others on the road, or simply don’t have a clue.

I started the idea of GRBs and have no problem with the suggestion such bays, if suitable, be used to allow a vanner to pull over to let us past. If one or two use them instead of stopping in a dangerous spot (and again I imagine you will agree some stop in bloody dangerous places without sufficient thought for their own safety, let alone that of others) then that is simply a bonus use.

Any of you who travel across past Broken Hill or north from Port Augusta may see some new GRB sites in those areas. If this flap and the extra interviews Ken did following the exposure helps us to get GRBs across the nation, then again, I welcome that exposure.

So to complete the Darwin trip story. Owner Driver had been aware of the trip and asked me to consider the differences pulling a triple to a double. There had been a major study, from memory it had cost a lot of money, that said you must not steer the truck subject to what the back (third) trailer did. This was my first triple and when I got to Darwin and spoke with Owner Driver (whilst having a meal supplied at the Simon depot, thanks it was excellent) I said that within the first 50 k, you learn very quickly to deliberately minimise the movement of the steering wheel, because if you don’t, you invoke even worse sway of the back trailer. “You worked out in half an hour, what a major study costing thousands took weeks to do”, was the comment.

My reply was that any driver would do so. My partner for the trip had also been doing it for years and whilst as I said he had been not so happy to see me at the start, he soon found I was a fulltime driver, not a journalist who drove only for stories. I don’t recall any specific instruction from him, but I imagine he had been watching me like a hawk from the start. He of course would be sleeping while I was driving and for many, unless you have confidence in your two-up partner, it can be vey difficult to sleep in a moving truck.

Instead of a major study, what they should have done was simply asked those who had been pulling triples and anyone of them would have been able to save them a lot of money. That is the problem, we as an industry never get asked and even rarer, get to contribute to things that affect us in our jobs on the road, our workplace which they will not recognise and those things which affect our safety and possibly our lives. This MUST change.

We did two drops on the way up, into the depot and then did a couple of deliveries round town. The photo of the last trailer still coming out the gate with a roadtrain already on the road gives a different view.

On the way north I had asked my partner if I could listen to an audio book. He said “I don’t care what you do unless it keeps me awake, so keep the volume down.” On the way into Darwin he wanted me to slow down, to hear the end of the book and the same happened on the way home, so it seems I had introduced and converted another driver to the idea of audio books. Not only that, I got a call from the lady who looked after the drivers a few weeks later, saying, “You and your audio books, the drivers want to start a bloody library now.”

I must have done a good job and not scared him too much, as when I got back to Toowoomba, I was asked if I could then take another double out to do a changeover at Blackall I think. It was a very enjoyable paid holiday and I thank David Simon, his staff and my partner for the trip for giving me a chance to get to Darwin my first time. I have been back as a b-double and hope to again soon.

Next week a video about living in the Hotel Kenworth, inside the TIV. Till then Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

28th June 2020 A roadtrain to Coober Pedy.

Goodaye all. For a change, I am writing this a bit early. I am sitting in a ute outside a mine site whilst my truck and roadtrain trailers are unloaded. We all know everyone wants you to comply with all their rules, have all your inductions in place and that is fine when you have plenty of time to set it up. But that does not always happen, does it?

Sunrise at the rest area north of Glendambo. We stopped here some months ago and did filming for the soon to be released Roadtrain and Caravan video.

This was just such a striking sky, I had to get a photo.

This is one of the two five trailer ABB quin setups that I saw operate into the mine.

Now of course, I normally do b-double tautliners, mainly Melbourne/Brisbane and a roadtrain to Coober Pedy is a change. I did drive my first roadtrain in Western Queensland when I was 16 and I can’t have done too bad, as the boss said wake me up when we get to the next town, which was some hours away. The next day we had both slept and when I woke first, I got going again and he never clipped me over the ear then either.

Some years ago, following a comment from a number of drivers about the change in attitude of many new drivers, some said that the only place the old mateship and respect still existed, was on the Perth and Darwin runs. I rang David Simon and asked him about doing a trip to look at the truth of that and he agreed. His company has a driver training program, a 90 k speedlimit and he also wanted me to look at how that worked from the outside.

Some years prior to this, I had been at an ATA Convention in Canberra and had proposed a trip up and down the Pacific Highway, specifically to respond to comments from some drivers that there was some friction between the old hands on the Pacific and the fact that b-doubles were now allowed there and it seems, some weren’t happy.

There were even some reports that drivers in doubles had been abused and nearly run off the road. When I raised this at the convention, a couple asked why should I be supported to do such a trip and whilst it was a logical extension for me following my first two Highway Audit trips, it seems not all agreed. However, I had to put my case and see what I could arrange. I spoke with David Simon and he agreed to set up a trip in one of his trucks for me.

We arranged to do press with local papers and media on the way south and Barry Whitney from Owner Driver followed in his car and we did some interviews and stories, then we had the RTA set up two people from different sections, for the trip north. The first half was Justin Maguire to the Gold Coast where he caught a plane, then a lady from the Pacific Alliance and she was very much interested in the issue of Jake Brake noise and some complaints which had been received.

To start the trip, I flew to Brisbane, went out and picked up the truck at David’s depot, was test driven round the block and given instruction on their rules and procedures. Overall the trip went well and we were well received, got good support and follow up stories from all we spoke with, including Police and did some auditing of rest areas, along with speaking to drivers wherever we stopped at roadhouses.

I think I made a good impression with all I spoke with and whilst we are still short of rest areas on the Pacific Highway, the roadworks have made it a much quicker trip and a much safer road for all who travel it. The newspapers we spoke with (and some journos spent either a short time in the truck or interviewed me in it at the roadside) were all positive and some even used the Truckies Top Ten Tips (for sharing the road with trucks) in their stories. Barry covered the trip and my column did as well. We still need more rest areas, even now and from where I sit, the losses are greater than the gains of a few new truck bays.   

For the Darwin trip, David set it up for me to be picked up in Dubbo by one of this trucks and travel to Brisbane, where I had a meal and a kip whilst the trailers were all loaded. Three trucks left with single trailers for Toowoomba with myself in one, my partner for the trip in another and a local bloke with the third. It was on dark when we got to the yard in Toowoomba and my partner, (who had thought I was a journalist) said, hook up the dolly and then put it under his trailer as the dog. The truck I had, being a local one, did not have any hook up lights, but I got the dolly hooked up then put it under the dog, pulled my truck out and he then returned to hook up the Darwin truck. I think that allayed some of his fears about me and we got on well for the whole trip.

This gent had been with Simons and doing Darwin for sometime and had a cooker and once we left Augathella after having breakfast and then later hooking up the third trailer, he cooked nearly all the meals and then I bought all the food for the return trip. He did well and whilst I did come up with a better solution than cooking on the back of the prime mover, it was early on the way up he said, “You won’t be able to get a coffee and a meal up here like you can on the Newell” and he was of course, absolutely right. You can’t even park a triple to go to one of the few toilets, for it seems hundreds of kilometres.

At a rest area on the way home from Darwin.

I will make this a two part story and so will be back next week with the exiting completion of my first Darwin and triple trek. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

20th June 2020

Goodaye all. I have had an interesting week, some nice comments from drivers on the UHF and in person, a good Wednesday morning on Nightshift discussing logbooks and taking calls, an different work week, some mistakes by others,  meaning unloading and then reloading product for fun and enjoyment and off tomorrow for something completely different.

I am getting more and more frustrated with roads and how they are fixed, who really controls the work and allocation and why does it look to many of us, as all arse about. In discussing this with a work colleague, he nominated the coroner as being very influential in certain road changes. Has anyone seen this before and do you agree or disagree and why? Do we then need to get the coroners into trucks?

Years ago a mate sent me a copy of a coroners report on a major truck crash. Some of the questions raised, showed a lack of understanding of trucks by the coroner and yet there was serious disregard of what truck drivers and operators had to say, on how a road and its problems had been highlighted to authorities who had failed to act. At that time, I thought those involved working on the road, the trucks and owners, had acted in good faith to report a problem, the road authority virtually ignored them and then there was a crash involving a death.

The road authority was held partly responsible and then went and changed the law, so they could not be held responsible in the future. How does that work?

Why do we now have AB Triples running the Newell Highway when they can’t run the Hume and lets build a heap of overtaking lanes on long straight sections of road instead of twisting bits and then lets ignore the big hills and terrain in the Pilliga and from Tooraweenah.

Last week travelling from Duaringa to Rockhampton, the same thing, let’s build a major widening of the road just before we come to a curving twisting bottleneck, where most trucks going to the mines are roadtrains and bigger, where the hazards and delays to all traffic in this section will be 10 times worse than the bit of road we are widening. Why not fix the bottleneck first and then widen the road?

It is like the rest areas. Travelled the Golden Highway, Dubbo to Newcastle and much work being done. This was the first road on which I did a highway audit many years ago and I thank Maurice Finemore, my boss at the time, for helping me achieve it. I had six shire engineers travel their section of the road from Singleton outbound to Dubbo and gave each a list of the issues in their section made up over the previous trips.  And within two years, everything from signs too close to the road, culverts too close and bumps etc, was improved and or fixed with the exception of one culvert issue and two major projects, one a major realignment and another a bridge replacement. These were done within five years and there is more work to do now.

Some of the sections are improving and there has been some new rest areas, but I had asked for input and pushed for green reflector bays (and the number of them had grown slowly as and when possible to mark them). Yet we had no request for input, some bays too close and then nothing leaving large gaps and so, I rang and have listed a couple of issues and asked to be contacted for further comments to be considered.

Lastly got informed of a survey on a number of road safety issues. Speeding in school zones and roadworks. I could not in good conscience complete the surveys as they were framed to blame, not to ask why. I would hope no one who has ever had children, would ever speed in a school zone. But I want to be able to explain why I consider some roadworks to be wrongly signed for the safety of all on the road, not just the roadworkers and why I believe that just because some one thinks it is a good idea to leave speedlimits reduced when there is no work on the road at all, some will then ignore what may well be suitable limits at times when workers are working.

We need good roads, we need them fixed and repaired properly and we need those doing the work to be safe, absolutely. But those using the road need to be involved, not just told, slow down. I have written to the authors of the survey, offering comment, completed another survey that they may well say was not for me to contribute to and will hope to see more of us get a chance to contribute to improve road safety, not just answer surveys that to my mind, do not ask the right questions.  Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

14th June 2020

Goodaye all. A short week and a visit to hospital Wednesday afternoon to check something, which has led to a week-end home so I can go for an ultrasound Monday morning and then a Trucksafe medical after and hopefully then to work. In April loading at a place in Melbourne where you had to stand in your cage at the back of the trailers, I said I will be using ropes, along with my load restraint curtains if you are happy with that? Up to you mate, thanks.

Now having seen the damage caused by some cowboys that swing your straps into the roof and the freight when there is not much room over the freight, I know what needs additional restraint and am happy to use it, but if I can see and watch the loading and make sure they don’t do stupid stuff and the freight is acceptable and will stand up, then I am confident my gates, ropes and curtains will do the job and legally.

When the front sections were done and we were about to move the curtains, the bloke said, I can’t throw a rope, you’ll have to do it. Which is normally fine, as mostly you can throw over the pallet in front as you go when the freight is tall and there is not much room left above it. Once the section is full, it is a damn sight harder and not being allowed out during the loading, meant I had a hard time and with perhaps a bit too much effort, swung hard on the fourth attempt to try and force it throughand thought, bugger that hurt. So I changed to my left hand and eventually got loaded, had a sore right shoulder, but then hooked up the trailers and headed off. It was bit sore the following day, but nothing serious, I thought.

Three weeks ago sitting at the BP at Clermont having tea, I looked at my right arm and thought, MMM my morning push ups are working well, what a muscle, but then looked at the other side and thought, that’s not even. More MMMMM and the muscle bit seemed to move about. Didn’t get home for another week and showed my son who has been into body building a bit and he said, looks like you might have torn a tendon.

End result, though I have not had any real pain and the shoulder works fine, I went to the hospital for a qualified answer and whilst still not sure, now have to get the ultrasound Monday. We will see what happens. Worked local Thursday/ Friday, got a service done and started a bit of sanding for some paint touch up Monday and arranged my Trucksafe Medical too.

Some of you may be aware, Big Rigs magazine will be folding as part of the closure of many regional papers, they were in the Queensland times offices in Ipswich and are a relation and were told, you will be closing. Sorry to see another industry paper go, Trucking Life the other most recent loss. James the editor has been a good supporter and rang me Friday afternoon for an interview for the last edition. Big Rigs was fortnightly and was available in some of the servos where Owner Driver was not. It seemed to have a regular group of readers and the last few editors had made some changes that took it from just a social sheet to containing some good info.

NTI have just released their report into truck crashes. It had gone to two yearly, but has been released early this year. It of course only covers the vehicles NTI insure, not the whole of the industry and I do believe you can’t change what you don’t understand. Yes, when there is a crash, there is a cause and often though, more than one. But on the side of the road in the middle of carnage and suffering, the bump down the road or the irregularity in the road surface just up the road are not the most important factors at the time, yet could have been contributing factors and will often be missed or completely ignored. For that reason, I do support proper crash investigations to get all the facts, not just the obvious ones and then maybe we can do more to prevent them. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

7th June 2020 Home, away again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

31st June 2020. Two weeks away.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

17th May 2020 NHVR Owner Driver Mtg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10th May 2020 Happy Mothers Day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

4th May 2020 A week-end off ???

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

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

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

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

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

26th April 2020 “Lest we forget”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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