1st September 2017 Anti trucking 1?

Goodaye all. A couple of years ago we had an issue at Boggabilla with young locals throwing rocks at trucks as they went through the village. It is a 50 KPH zone and we have to slow to do a 90 degree turn at the Wobbly Boot pub as part of the Newell Highway. The vent on the side of the TIV still bears the scar from a rock. One elderly car driver had his windscreen smashed and then hit a pole and a truck driver got glass in his eye and was taken to hospital and they are two serious events I was told of, though I also heard of many others where rocks were thrown at trucks.

Boggabilla was a problem with the local Police station being across the road from where it was happening, but not always manned and though the Qld Police are only 10 minutes away in Goondiwindi, the closest NSW Police are in Moree, over an hour away, so reporting it got it listed, but little else done. I rang industry associations and they too spoke with Police and I tried the Gundi paper with no responce.

The problem seemed to move to Moree when the bypass was opened. A long fence was put up along the train line which now paralleled the highway, but the locals seem to have a problem with the fence and not only keep cutting holes in it, they also have a large supply of railway ballast rocks to throw at trucks while they hide behind the shrubs. By the time we pull up, they have bolted into the dark. Two weeks ago a northbound driver called me up saying they were at it again, his truck had been hit by a rock, so I asked had he rang the Police? He was about to pull up and check for damage and would ring then.

Last week as I was having tea at Bellata, another driver told me he had his left hand window smashed on his way through Moree, he had rung the Police and reported it, but now had glass all through his bedding, could not secure the truck, would lose hours getting it fixed and could have been hit in the head by the rock, if he had not had the window up. When this first started to happen, I again rang industry associations, they contacted Police higher up and were told there would be a campaign in the schools etc. I contacted RMS, as they had built the road and my understanding was that some funding would be made available to light the section, so the throwers could not hide in the dark and the fence would be fixed.

Not only do the locals keep cutting the fence, they smash some of the lighting there now and all are frustrated, Police, RMS, council etc, but they of course, are not getting rocks thrown at them. Unless Mr Trump comes here and builds a wall, it is not possible to get rid of all the rocks, the lighting has not been improved and the shrubs are now big enough for a man to hide behind, let alone a few kids. I have suggested to RMS to at the least, remove the shrubs so we can see anyone there and to fix and extend the lighting, but the ARTC “own” the verge and the shrubs and we all know how quickly government bodies are to act on such important matters.

What have we done to deserve having our lives at risk doing our job and driving on a national highway? It is bad enough with uneducated car drivers trying to kill us each week, but now we even have kids against us. Years ago we had a truck driver tragically killed by someone who threw a rock off an overpass, it was not the first event, but thankfully to my knowledge, the only death and now, all overpasses are fenced.

What can be done to stop this stupidity, who will act before a driver is killed by a rock and who will be responsible if it does happen? How can people get away with it and why are trucks the target? If you have been affected, what have you done and who have you reported it to. We cannot touch them, even if we could catch them, so what will be done to stop this? Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.


25th August 2017 TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle Sponsors.

Goodaye all. The TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle (TIV) would simply not exist without the help of those who have supported, sponsored and or, assisted with product. The first major contributor, was Ken Wilkie. Ken also writes for Owner Driver magazine and has since the first issue. He is an owner driver and leased me his K104 to start off the TIV. I had a dream and lots of thoughts on what could be done to improve how we are seen, particularly by the public. We have magnificent looking trucks on the road that promote tractors and dog food and vineyards, but there were none that promoted us.

In very simple terms and truly without sufficient recognition from me and many others, Ken was buying a new truck and knowing I was looking to do something a bit different, he offered me his current truck to start off the TIV. Ken told me later many had asked why he would support “my” dream? His answer was that his father had offered his life for this country (and we recognised that with words on the side of the sleeper “In the Anzac Tradition, Truck supplied by Ken and Dot Wilkie”), but Ken was only lending me his truck.

As a single truck owner driver, it was a magnanimous gesture and I was able to take the truck into the Rod Pilon Transport fleet and will cover their support next sponsors blog. I had Ken’s truck for two years and it changed from this when I picked up the new Rod Pilon Transport trailers from Vawdrey in Melbourne,


to this, when I returned it to him, thanks to many hours and many contributors.


I will never be able to thank Ken enough and some of the story will remain untold, but suffice to say, Ken did help me get the TIV on the road and without that help, it may never have happened. Things changed after I started with the truck, but Ken honoured that commitment for the full two years, an incredible level of support. Thank you Ken and Dot Wilkie for your friendship, help and unequalled support.

The current TIV has been far more than a part time hobby on top of my job, it is a passion and I am proud of my efforts and its achievements, but more could be done. The only way to do that is to do it more and it is hard to do that, as an employed driver. I will look for and find someone who will supply a truck and set of trailers to allow me to do this fulltime, but still be a working truck and am actively working on the next (and most likely the last) TIV now. My aim is to have it on the road when I return from my Churchill Fellowship trip next year, or soon after.

It will then be able to attend more events and be in front of more people to show another side to our industry. Getting people into the truck on the road, getting in front of them at events and shows and explaining more about trucking than they will ever see on a sensationalist grab on tv, I believe can and will, make the roads safer for all, not just for truckies. If you want to help make this happen, please let me know. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.


18th August 2017.

Goodaye all. Finding oil in the radiator is not the best way to start the week, so back home Sunday night. Into work Monday morning, workshop pulled it apart, EGR cooler failure, wait for parts for Tuesday morning, some then missing but luckily only locally, got them and back on the road Tuesday afternoon. Had Channel 7 and the paper arranged as I was going to Toowoomba for Monday unload, missed Channel 7 but met up with the journalist on Wednesday morning. Both were following up on my raising of the issue of rest areas on the new Toowoomba bypass.

Tom the journalist did have a responce from TMR, saying there was a rest area being built on the west side of the Warrego overpass, but it is a roadtrain hook up pad. I will follow up and seek the plans and will pursue. All well and good for them to say it is a rest area, I can just imagine getting good sleep while blokes hook up roadtrains with lights and reversing buzzers etc. Owner Driver will follow up with me next week as well.

I do have a caravan story for 2 weeks time and plan to start doing a plug for each of the TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle (TIV) supporters monthly from next week, but for now will stick with media and specifically videos. How many of you saw the Volvo video with Jean-Claude Van Damme? I would like to recommend a few more for your interest and comments. “I am a Volvo trucker” won a number of awards and shows a completely different, though American side to those of us who live on the road and I would love to do something like that here. It will happen one day. The video I did with the NRMA “We hitch a 10 hour ride” on the NRMA Facebook page was my first viral event and I have since done 5 videos on Youtube, TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle Video 1 etc, with the aim to explain to people what the TIV is all about.

A mate has a hobby, OZTRUCKINGTV and has spent years trying to get a better image for the industry and now in the USA, there is a campaign Trucking Moves America Forward run by the American Trucking Association which has a number of streams, videos and now over 100 trailers wrapped with their messages. We have never had a such a campaign here in Australia and granted their population, number of drivers and market are so much bigger, but we do need to get the average motorist to recognise what we contribute to their way of life.

Is video the way to do it? Let me know what you like of those mentioned and what you suggest? Happy to have a major supporter for same in the future. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.


Trucks and the media.

Goodaye all. Years ago I was invited to participate in the TV show, “Enough Rope” with Andrew Denton. Now many would of course wonder about the show from the name, are you expected to Hang Yourself, given, “Enough Rope”? They did struggle to get people involved, with many in our industry either previously badly portrayed or misrepresented in what eventually goes to air or newspaper and so reluctant to be hung, yet again.

However I enjoyed the event, found Andrew to be a terrific bloke (and they later did a book on the series, sending me a copy with a signed inscription from Andrew) and the show did portray us to be both human and also I hope, interesting people. I was contacted last week by the Toowoomba Chronicle to comment on a story about the Toowoomba Range, following a major incident there that left the road blocked and traffic clogged for hours. I started off with the proviso that all roads should be driven subject to the conditions of the road and that I did not want to criticise the road authority, but wanted the article to raise a concern towards a better outcome for the future.

Tom, the Toowoomba journalist pretty much stuck to the script, though failed to mention the one specific issue I raised, complaints I have had from A-double drivers of breaking traction on the new steeper bit of road. The Courier Mail, not only went a lot harder, they used photos of myself and the TIV, without ever speaking to me at all. The headline was “Toowoomba Range Dangerous” and by virtue attributed to me, but not words I ever uttered.

No wonder we are wary of making comment. I do not subscribe to the Courier Mail and so cannot, without paying, answer the replies to the story. Some say the same as I did initially, the road should be driven subject to conditions, others were so stupid, saying trucks should be restricted to 10 KPH and imagine the que and stupidity that would ensue, while cars were held up.

For over 12 years, a fellow I once talked to on live radio, who then did a trip with me to see and feel our issues and then spoke to me nearly monthly for that time, allowing me access to his radio audience across three stations as he moved in his career, from Muswellbrook to Deniliquin an then finally, Murray Bridge in SA, talked to me about trucks on the road.

We started off with the Truckies Top Ten Tips (for sharing the road with trucks) and ranged across events and issues with some replies to stories and issues, but mainly, just giving me the chance to give our side. Thank you to Chris Lewis for such long and helpful support and I wish him all the best for his now, off radio life. No one else has come close in my books yet, but two years on the ABC in Early Mornings, two years on Rig Radio from Wagga Wagga and then another two on Overnight Express and now weekly on Yass FM with Mark, will all help to change how we are seen and perceived by the public, when all too often the only press we get is “TRUCK KILLS”.

How do we change this? How do we get a fair go? I wish I knew and could solve that problem along with others in our industry. All I can do is keep trying. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.


6th August 2017

Goodaye all. I turned 60 on Friday, another day on the road, another day away from family and something, few others really care about, a truckies life. The public just want their goods available in a shop and or delivered, they do not consider how and when it gets there. That is the job I do, delivering the goods. Life has certainly changed in many ways. My Father worked for the Post Office and many in his day came back from the war and got a job and many worked on in, if not the same job, for the same employer for most of their lives. Our road transport industry really started after the war and I would highly recommend the book, “They Came Like Waves” by Jeffrey Ffrost as an introduction into those early years.

Years ago many truckdrivers came from trucking families and you went for a trip with your Dad, liked the life and carried on into the job. Now with both graduated licenses, insurance issues and the way most people want a job where they can have a family life, not being away living in a truck, getting people into trucking is harder than it has ever been. Many truckies will say to their kids, “If you go anywhere near a truck, I ‘ll kick you that hard you won’t land for a week” as they know how hard a job it can be on family.

So why do I do it you may fairly ask. I got involved when I left school and have been ever since. It has also become my hobby and yet that alone, does not explain that someone must be driving the trucks for all to survive. Even with online shopping, true you may not need to go to a store,  but how will the products get to you? To be made they need ingredients going to a factory or to be made somewhere, they need to be distributed for sale and or delivery and true, that chain may be shrinking, but it is still there and without it, you will starve, have no clothes and no fuel for your car.

Trucks do truly deliver Australia. We have a large country and relatively small population and at one stage, we had 28 different rail gauges in Australia. Only a few years ago did we finally end up with a rail line to Darwin, we have nothing like the fast trains overseas and the rail link from Melbourne to Brisbane is certainly closer that ever before, but still a way off. Rail did have a bad reputation in the past and yet, it can do some jobs better that trucking can, like bulk commodities, but even if you want more general freight on rail, you still need trucks to get it to the rail, then to get it off the rail and then again to deliver it. Which is where trucks do things well.

Trucks carry over 75% of domestic freight, they do it well and yes, there are crashes involving trucks, but from where I sit, the biggest issue is that we do not teach young drivers to share the road with trucks. If the only education they get about trucks is what they learn from video games, will that give them sufficient knowledge to not only make them safe on the road,  but make the road safer for truckies too?

I would welcome your thoughts on education about sharing the road with trucks. How and when should we do it? Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.



29th July 2018 Clean Rest Areas?

Goodaye all. A truckie has started a Facebook page with the intent of getting our rest areas cleaner and I have been invited to join and just posted the following comment on “The stinkin places transport operators park lets clean up our work place” page.

Goodaye Mark, thanks for the invite. I fully support your intent, both to get all who use rest areas to treat them better and to have those responsible for those sites do the same, though would like to make an initial suggestion and that is the sites name might well gain more involvement and support if it was simply, “Lets Keep our rest areas clean” or similar. Some might not recognise your aim and stop reading before they recognise your intent.
I have often written suggesting blokes can pick up a few bits of rubbish while building up air in the morning, but you are right in saying there should be no need for anyone to pick up someone else’s rubbish.
Lack of rest areas, those in any group who abuse them and those in offices who have every facility on every floor, certainly do not really understand or care about our needs on the road. Most truckies, most caravanners and most travellers, we would all hope, carry their rubbish in a bag in the car or truck and dispose of it properly. However the world is changing and less and less seem to care or think of others. In walking along roadsides scoping for green reflector bays, the rubbish that flows from about half hour out of most towns, after people have eaten etc, is truly disgraceful. Keep trying and let us hope we will get an improvement. Cheers Rod Hannifey.
What are your thoughts? I know a few years ago, RMS at one stage threatened to close the Muldoons Rest Areas on the Hume Highway, saying the maintenance cost was too high and we did not design them, nor were we invited to participate, so who’s fault is that cost. In the USA, Virginia closed 18 rest bays, again citing the cost of up keep, yet we are required to comply with fatigue laws and told by people who live in their own bed and if not, live in a damn site more luxury when away from home, than we do on the road.
And now the taxation office wants to halve our meal allowance for living on the road. We are copping it on all sides. What is the solution? Some say advertising in rest areas, some say we just want more, but the money is not there to build one for cars, one for trucks and another for caravanners to free camp in, so where do we turn. My belief is that we need more, that are better designed and built with input from the users and I have asked the National Transport Commission to pursue this with a National Guideline for Truck Rest Areas. They have made a start and soon there will be a call for industry participation towards those guidelines. Will you take part and contribute, do you have a solution or will you sit and whinge? Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.



23/7/2017 A working week.

Goodaye all. Whilst many truckies do more kilometres than I do and some do less, it has been a busy week. So just to give you an example of a life on the road, this was it. Left home Sunday afternoon to be at Barnawartha by midnight for a timeslot Monday morning. Unloaded there and into Melbourne to load. Arranged to have a new screen fitted for the TRANSTECH EWD and got that done (Thank you to Richard and Jack for the fitting and TRANSTECH as sponsors of the TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle) and made it back to Parkes by 2.30AM to bed.

Tuesday into Dubbo fuel, tea at Bellata roadhouse and off to Chinchilla arriving 11PM. Wednesday, unload there in the morning and then to Brisbane, round the block to get in and then screw the wheels off to get into the yard and load there for a few hours. To the yard and fuel and at 12.45 AM slept at parking bay in the Pilliga.

Thursday off at 8.15 AM to Dubbo to unload, the forky steady and on the phone a bit, then fuel, reload and off again to Brisbane pulling up at the Cunningham rest area just south of Warwick at 12.45 AM again.

Friday into Brisbane for a timeslot, got that one, split the trailers to get into the next drop to find they have moved the receiving spot and you don’t have to split trailers now, thanks a lot, hook up to find the next delivery point closes at 1.30PM on Friday. Back to the yard to get that off, reload to be told I have to wait for a late pickup, then told I will be too late to deliver so now I can go. Arrived Moree at 12.10 AM to unload Saturday to be told I was lucky to get unloaded as no one else wanted to work. Out of there after a cup of tea and a hit to the trailer roof from the forky, new back to forks damn, then to Dubbo to fuel and reload for Monday, have to be on the road by 3PM Sunday for a timeslot in Brisbane and a few minutes to wash the oil off the back of the truck before dark, from the workshop issue earlier in the week. I will get my 24 hours at home, whilst doing this and that, the blog, emails, Audiobooks for the road etc.

Maybe 6000 k for the week and close to my maximum 72 hours work and whilst I love what I do and the hobby part of it as well with my road safety efforts, there is not much time left. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.




14th July 2017.

When I visited the Tomingley Rest Area south of Dubbo a couple of weeks ago, scoping for our video, I could hear a horn blowing for some time. As a car went past tooting the horn, I saw the caravan it was following had the rear rhs tyre in pieces. I left a few minutes later and heard trucks call the van and others comment on the problem. Old mate in the van made it another 20k up the road before finally stopping, still with part of the van on the roadway and tiny bits of the tyre barely keeping the rim off the road. It was probably stuffed as well. Now I did not stop, as he was in a bad spot and there was nowhere for me to park safely, he had also passed another rest area and at least three wide shoulder spots where he could have stopped safely and well off the road.

Now many of us do not react well to horn blowing or light flashing and as he was perhaps travelling a bit slower, he may have thought that was the reason for the actions. However, surely there must come a time when anyone would think, what is the problem if a number of people try to make contact? I would imagine if the window was wound down he should have heard something as I could hear it from 50 metres away when he went past. He could have done much more damage, and even when he stopped, he did not get right off the road.

He would have been up for tyre and rim then, could possibly have caused another incident when the tyre flew apart or by where he did finally stop and if he had a radio, could have been contacted. How do we help such people, do they need more education or could it be, he wasn’t interested in anyone else on the road? I would welcome your views. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.


Sharing Rest Areas Video.

Did filming yesterday for sharing rest areas. Thanks to all who took part and helped. Rod Pilon Transport for allowing me the time and flexibility to do all I can towards improving road safety with the TIV. Stephen McCarthy from Whiteline Television who is aiming to set up a new trucking television show and this will be one part of that.
Lance and his Isuzu and van, an ex truckie, who drove all the way from the other side of Melbourne to take part, Chris and Bizzi who drove down from Dubbo with their retro van Chiquita, John and his partner in the Jeep who was a good vanner in helping me to get past them south of Parkes and who, when I called him up on the UHF, agreed to come in and take part, to the other vehicle owners who will appear in the video that were simply on site or drove in and allowed us to include them, to Lindsay Brothers Transport by default, the driver who slept through the whole exercise being in a frig van with the motors running keeping his cargo cold, showed another side.
The aim is to get all, both truckies and vanners to recognise they can help each other by simply having some thought for others when they park up, to vanners in better recognising our needs with logbooks and penalties and the intent, is to give any tired driver, somewhere to park safely. We need MORE and BETTER rest areas for all. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.


1st July 2018

Goodaye all. One of our major issues is that the laws under which we operate are made and policed by those who do not have to live by them. I do not know any driver who wants to work 17 hours a day, 7 days a week, but I know a lot who want to do the job and get home safely to a family they see too little of.

They also want to be able to drive when they are fit and to sleep when they are tired and until we all become robots or have autonomous vehicles, each day and each person needs to be able to deal with their day and their fatigue individually. Again, we all recognise there is a need for rules and whilst we are all human, there will be those who will break the rules, for whatever reason or intent they see as pushing them to do so.

As interstate drivers we operate across state borders and both need to recognise the law varies, but we would also like one day to have Australian road rules for all, not different rules in every state. Few others really have to regularly deal with this issue, that crossing an imaginary line on the ground means you can be fined for something that was legal on the other side. I think we have made some improvements, but we all live in one country, not seven.

Even with our national laws and regulations, when changes are put up for comment, how many even get to know of the proposals or changes and how many will then comment or contribute, possibly thinking they will not be listened to or worse, are not confident they can explain in words, a problem they would struggle to explain talking to someone, who does not have to live on the road under those rules.

It is hard to keep track of changes unless you are linked in and then there is the further problem of over supply of information and being able to trawl through it to what you need and or what is important. How do we balance all this?

If you have a solution, let me know, but we must try to make the effort, because if we do not, we will not be heard and we will be given laws and rules that do not make the roads safer, or make our job better, but will convince someone else they have made a difference, even if it makes things worse. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.