28th January 2019. Green Reflectors and Rest Areas.

Goodaye all. Sorry for the gap, so many things to do. From the ATA Facebook page, “The Austroads research report ‘Guidelines for the Provision of Heavy Vehicle Rest Area Facilities’ was developed in response to calls for updated standards and will assist in the planning, design and prioritisation of truck rest areas” and it has just been released.

We are still a long way off having what we need, but now we have a document we can use to get better facilities. As you will imagine it is fairly detailed and I aim to read through in the next week and respond further. The “Green Reflector Marking of Informal Truck Bays” has been included and I have received some comments from others, congratulating me on the effort over the last 19 years to have them instigated.

The Newell Highway is all done and there are others in NSW, Qld and Victoria, but until we have suitable and sufficient rest areas for trucks, we need to know where there are safe spots to park, if and when we need them. Let us hope this report can help get the green reflectors national, until we have enough formal spots.

How many of you use roadside rest areas and what do you think of them generally? Years ago we did some trips when moving and found those with either a playground or of course, only at certain times a Driver Reviver, were the best suited for those with kids. Toilets and shade are the essentials for getting out of a car of truck for a break and of course, then we need rubbish bins. Is there enough bins, are they close enough or is it just the lazy and stupid who can’t be bothered to use them and then throw their rubbish out the window.

On the Newell with its gaps between towns, from just after 15 minutes out of each town, the rubbish starts. How do we get people to do the right thing and can you imagine what their homes must be like, or is that different? Then when the mowers come through, it all gets chopped up and spread even further. We need someone to design an attachment to go on the front of the mower and pick up all the rubbish first. The problem would be the first time it was used, you would need a fleet of tippers to cart the rubbish away!

What and where is the best rest area, car, truck or other, that you have ever used and why? I used to travel to Gladstone via Taroom and the toilet block there was always clean and tidy and I wrote to the council to thank them. Have you ever written or rang about a good, or bad site. If we don’t thank them, they may not feel recognised and if there is a site that is not up to standard, someone also needs to know to get it fixed.

How you report it is also important. Just abusing someone on the phone will never help and may make it worse. I have rang and told of a problem rather than just complained and I empathise with those who have to clean up after the morons that do things we must imagine, they would never do in their own homes.
The worst part is the often the trucks do not even get the facilities car drivers do, or simply can’t access them, by signage or design, deliberate or otherwise. We do need toilets too! The ATA are planning to follow up on the report at their conference in Perth in April and I hope they get good comments and suggestions and that there is then follow up to get some more rest areas built. To you in a car or RV, it may be just a spot to stop for a break, but for us it is where we sleep and live.

I would ask all, truckies included, to read the report and submit comments and to all to respect the value and needs of all drivers on the road. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

10th January 2019. Happy New Year.

Well a Happy New Year to you all.

Sorry for the late posting. Last week end we continued the filming for the Truckies Top Ten Tips and hope to complete more this week end. Five and a half hours to wash the TIV by hand on a hot Barnawartha day last Friday (after me helping a fellow fix two blown tyres and a damaged airbag, for a good start to the day, though he did then buy me breakfast) for filming Saturday and Sunday had me knackered but the TIV looking good. No internet access when I got to Melbourne, late Sunday meant no blog, so I started painting the rope rails on the trailers instead, finishing at 9PM.

I had quite a discussion with a mate driving north from Dubbo yesterday about the Christmas period road toll. What a terrible way to start the year for all those families involved who have lost someone. We weren’t there and only when the crash investigations are completed will most of the facts be known, but unless you are involved or follow up months or years later with coroners reports and the like, do we really listen and learn from what happened?

Those involved may know, they may well accept some responsibility, but none of us want to see anyone killed, let alone members of our own families, yet it continues to happen. Coming out of Melbourne Tuesday afternoon approaching the Shepparton exit, a car passed me as I passed the exit and I looked down to see the passenger point to the exit and the car lept forward across three lanes less than a metre in front of me to take that exit. I am sure the kids in the back appreciated the care and consideration given to their possibly very short lives.

Imagine being the person to kill them all, because the driver simply didn’t think, maybe we should drive on and take the next exit. I never want to be that person, yet others can find themselves in exactly that position, simply by going to work. If they are blamed in the press for those deaths and quite possibly may not be the guilty party, what sort of a life will they have in the future?

I really hope that when we have the Truckies Top Ten Tips (for sharing the road with trucks) available in the future, that it will become part of learner driver education. It will not stop every crash, but it may save a life or more and may just stop a truckie being blamed in the media for something they were not responsible for. I do hope it will prevent a truckie from seeing any such event in their nightmares every night after such a tragedy, but we must do more.

What can you do to improve road safety? Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

29th December. Goodbye 2018. A TRUCKING Good New Year to all.

Goodaye all. Well as per a favourite Pink Floyd song, “but your older, shorter of breath and one day closer to death”, yet still keen to both make an effort and make a difference. It is terribly sad for those drivers who have just lost their job a week before Christmas, who’s fault is it? Will the truth ever come out and will those responsible ever pay the price they should? Or will they get away with it and just start again?

One driver I heard from, has now had it happen more than once and will be unlikely to ever catch back up, let alone get the wages and benefits he was entitled to. How can such a big concern, working full time and with set runs for some of the biggest transport companies in Australia, fold like that? Lets’ hope someone is held to account and wish that it doesn’t happen again.
If you were lucky to have family at home, presents and good food and everything else, take one minute to consider those who did not, those who work to give you the lifestyle you have, truckies and many others who all work through such days and we all forget them at times, I fear.

I did a radio interview with a mate on a local community station Friday afternoon and we discussed the TRUCKRIGHT year. He was very happy to give me the chance to get a view to others and I thank Mark for the opportunity. I even got a Facebook message from another who heard the conversation travelling along the Hume. Mark, after asking when I was working over the break, did say it was the first time in the years we have been chatting on the radio that he recalls, where I did not go to work Boxing Day, but I will quite likely be on the road across New Year’s Eve.

I can’t recall spending Christmas night on the road, but did get home one Christmas morning, telling my children I had driven from one side of the country to the other, over four full days to get to them at the end of the U2 Tour. From Perth via Melbourne to Dubbo and you can read all about it in “Rock and Roll Trucking” in “The Best Australian Trucking Stories” by Jim Haynes and it is available on audio as well, if you are interested. Many times, on the road Boxing Day and New Year’s Day to deliver the following day, but too often away when family needed me and for that I will ever be ashamed I could not be there, when they did.

But it is the start of a new year and so I wish you all a TRUCKING Good New Year. My aims are to get;
1. A National Truck Rest Area Strategy up, so we have national standards for design, placement and capacity. The same standards for roadside bays, informal green reflector bays in all states and recognition of the need for more for all, but specifically for truckies. How we can use stockpile sites and old road alignments when roads are improved and or duplicated, instead of wasting those assets.
2. Some minor changes to fatigue laws allowing split rest, personal use and nose to tail shifts for all, but not on consecutive nights and with other limitations.
3. Keep on with the work of the TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle and get a new one on the road.

That should keep me reasonably busy. Any help or suggestions welcome, so travel safe and see you next year. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

25th December 2019 Merry Xmas.

TO ALL DRIVERS.
Please give this some thought, not just now for Christmas and the coming year, but everyday on the road.

Do you want to make the roads safer? Here’s how.
1. Drive like the people in every other car around you, are your own family members, young and old.
2. As above, but know how good they drive!!!!!
3. Treat all others as you would like to be treated.
4. PROBLEM solved. No road rage, no stupidity, no reckless actions.

Nearly every truckie I know, goes to work with one thing on their mind, to get home safely to a family they see too little of. If you really want to get home each trip, use the above idea and see if it will help you drive safer.

If only ten people do this and we save one life, then it is worth my time on Christmas day and will be something that can do good, far more than I can ever do alone. Merry Christmas and a Trucking Good New Year to all and to all the truckies still on the road, “Keep On Truckin’”. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey http://www.truckright.com.au

23rd December 2018 Merry Christmas.

Goodaye all, a hectic week, Dubbo to Swan Hill to Melbourne, to Bundaberg, Brisbane, Newcastle and home Friday night. Late on Sunday night on the narrow section the other side of Balranald I think, I moved over a bit for car and with the narrow (read none) shoulder, thought I might have been in trouble. It grabbed me and wanted to drag me off the edge and if I had reefed it back, may not have gone well.

Our roads are not being well maintained, we are falling further behind with rest areas, we have achieved so little, yet tried so hard to put information out to the public, both about sharing the road with trucks and that we are mostly, not the at fault party in car/truck fatal crashes. The figures are similar in the USA and I see Canada has just released figures showing they have similar stats. They will be following up to see what can be done to educate car drivers about sharing the road with trucks following the release of the figures and it seems strange they had not been aware.

I am back to work tomorrow to unload, then off till Thursday to reload and be on the road. I did a radio interview with my mate Boz, from Yass FM and on asking when I was off, he said it was the first time in the years we have been talking, that I was not going to work Boxing Day. I doubt you would believe me if I said, I won’t know what to do with myself.

I put the week end in doing a bit of shopping, lashed out and bought myself a tape measure, set of Vice Grips and ordered a $22 watch for me for Xmas, as I have just broken the band in mine and it looks likely to cost more to fix than the other one and if I break this one, I won’t be so badly off. Even two new “Jackie Howe” blue singlets and some undies (as they were half price, but also did some Xmas shopping for the family and even a bit of gardening. I did try to ignore trucks for this week end and will again for Xmas, but can’t get away from it completely.

May I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a TRUCKING Good New Year. Thank you for your interest, your comments and to those who have shared. TRUCK That Australia for December is out now on http://www.truckingnation.com.au and as I will be at work tomorrow and then back on the road Thursday, we will meet again next week end. Cheers and Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

16th December 2018. What do we do?

The following is from another frustrated driver in response to my latest Owner Driver column. He raises some good points and I have replied with others.

Morning Rod,

Great article.

I’m not sure if it’s the end of the year,but I’m feeling empty,frustrated and directionless.

I feel that most if not all the issues that impact the transport industry would not be tolerated anywhere else!

Why?

The transport industry is the lifeblood of this country!

It’s dependence is far beyond anyone’s comprehension.

I’m friends with an elder gentleman.
He’s retired and has been a large scale business owner for most of his life.

During a conversation we had recently,he told me transport is a “mugs game”,”the only business I know that sinks it’s own value “.

I thought about this for days.

Initially I was insulted.

The more I thought of these statements,the reality was there,he was right!

We devalue the industry that the country is most reliant on.

Question.

How do you sell a career in transport to a school leaver,outlining to them that a lot of their time will be spent for FREE?

Driver shortage,what driver shortage?

I look forward to chatting to you Rod.

I feel your frustration.

Goodaye Darren, I have asked the same question as you pose many times and as you suggest, struggle to answer it to the betterment of both current and future truckies. The world is a cruel place and I doubt we will ever be recognised for the sacrifices we have made in our lives, to improve the lives of others and now of course, they will be pushing the argument that as we cannot get drivers, we need autonomous trucks and the roads will be fixed for them, yet I cannot get them fixed for us now.

Frustration grows, but whilst getting slightly less enthusiastic, I have not given up. Cheers and all the best for a Merry Christmas and a Trucking Good New Year. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey. http://www.truckright.com.au http://www.truckright.blog 0428120560

The driver who sent this has approved me using it. I would not use it otherwise. In the UK they have shirts with, “Without trucks, you would be COLD, NAKED and HUNGRY”, yet we are still being treated badly, not enough rest areas, etc, etc, etc. I want to make the job safer, better and fair, but I can’t do it alone. I would welcome your comments. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

9th December 2018 Filming the Truckies Top Ten Tips (for sharing the road with trucks).

Goodaye all. Yesterday was the first day of filming of the Truckies Top Ten Tips (TTTT) for Sharing the Road with Trucks. With thanks to Rod Pilon Transport for the use of the Melbourne depot, we got underway in the morning and finished after 11 PM, so a long day with a break for lunch in between. Damn it was hard to find somewhere to eat after 2 PM, so many local small shops closed.

Whiteline TV was awarded funding from the NHVR to produce the TTTT and the aim is of course, to provide education for those who have never had the chance to ride in a truck and who may never have been taught about sharing the road with bigger vehicles. To all of you who are without any doubt the best drivers on the road, you may well have learned whilst on the road.

But every day truckies see and respond to people who have plainly either never been taught or who may simply not recognise the issues they cause in not respecting the size and weight of trucks and that we do need a bit more room to get going, to stop and top turn.

These tips came from surveys I did amongst a previous employers drivers with the permission of management and then followed up with a wider survey amongst truck drivers through Owner Driver magazine many years ago and I collated the responses and came up with the TTTT and have been promoting them ever since.

Whether you were taught by your parents, a driving school or simply learnt as you went along, were you given any real education about sharing the road with trucks? Or were you told, just keep away from trucks or even worse, how bad truckies were. Would you agree that such education should be included in the learning and testing regime for obtaining your license. It is true, truckies are not all perfect either, no one is, but we do go to work to get home safely to a family we see far too little of while travelling the highways of Australia to deliver every single thing you eat, wear, use and sell.

“TRUCKS DELIVER AUSTRALIA, OUR NEEDS, OUR PRODUCTS AND OUR WEALTH” is the slogan on the mudflaps on the TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle and of course you may have seen signs on trucks that say “WITHOUT TRUCKS AUSTRALIA STOPS”. In England there were shirts which said, “WITHOUT TRUCKS YOU WOULD BE COLD, NAKED AND HUNGRY” and the USA has a very big campaign to get the public to recognise the contribution trucks play in our everyday lives.

You travel in your car, often for convenience, yes you go to and from work and if you have no public transport, you may well not have another choice. We travel in our trucks, whether round the corner or across the country, so you can eat meals, at home or in a restaurant, be clothed, have fuel for your car, have a house built etc. It is said that every single thing you use has been in a truck, if not just once, but it could be many times.

I will end here as I have to get ready and off to filming, but all we are asking is that, and I hope you will agree, that if we can provide some education to new drivers about sharing the road with trucks, before they get on the road on their own and “learn by accident”, that we can help make them and all other road users safer, truckies included. What do you think? You can find the TRUCKIES Top Ten Tips at http://www.truckright.com.au I would welcome your thoughts. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

2nd December 2018. Truck That.

Goodaye all. Just been out to the yard to film our top and tail for TRUCK That December due out in the next few weeks. To those of you who have seen our TRUCK That videos, we had a bit of a break whilst I did my Churchill Fellowship Study Tour and my report on the study trip, as done for the Churchill Trust is now up on the Churchill Trust website. It is about 60 pages and covers the trip and who I met etc.

It was an incredible 6 plus weeks and I still hope to follow up with more work on rest areas. Last year I said January was Rest areas month and I will follow up with a document that also uses what I saw overseas, as well as our take on the problem here. They too have some of the same problems, but unfortunately, have not found all of the solutions. Some years ago, the US Government passed “Jason’s Law” requiring more truck rest areas. This came about after Jason was robbed of $6 and killed, while parked in an abandoned truck stop, as he had nowhere else to park.

His wife then spent the next three years travelling and complaining about the problem of insufficient rest areas, finally leading to the law being passed, an incredible effort. I am sure you will be shocked to hear, the problem still exists, though in some states more than others. There is currently another “Jason’s Law” rest area survey being undertaken there to get information from truckers, about where they have such issues.

Like too many things, it should not take someone being killed whilst simply trying to do his job and feed his family and his wife should not have to spend 3 years to get the government to even listen. Still those we are asking to recognise the problem, do no see it. To them it does not exist because they do not “live” on the road. How do we get them to see, let alone act? When you find out, please let me know.

One of the people I met on my trip was Bruce Outridge, an ex-driver, now author, speaker and industry advocate in Canada. Bruce left trucks initially to pursue another career and part of that was his love of and ability to draw. I was lucky enough to win one of his caricatures after being on his podcast during the trip. Bruce and his lovely wife took me in and looked after me for a couple of days in Canada and I do hope to get back there one day.

I will attach it here for your comments and any of you involved with trucks and rest areas, please feel free to add some comments as well. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.
PS, I will add next week when I have time to find out how to. It won’t go across, sorry and I have to get off to work to go to Melbourne. Cheers Rod.

25th November 2018. On the roadside.

Goodaye all. For a bit of a change, I did a trip to Sydney and back as a single semi this week. Having just flown there and back the week before and the airfares were not cheap, I did not have half as much fun in the truck.
I missed the start of a big truck blitz on my way out of Sydney and whilst I was pulled into the weighbridge both on the way in and out, I was treated fairly and the fellows I dealt with were OK, though they did find something for me to get fixed and I don’t have a problem with that. Many years ago pulled up by the then RTA at Ballina, after an inspection, I chatted with the officer and he made the comment, they were there to look after my safety and we agreed, I would rather have them find something I was unaware of and prevent an issue, than not.

On the other side of that is the attitude of some of those we deal with on the side of the road. We, just as much as them, can be affected by the days’ issues, but they are meant to act professionally, as they will shove down our throat when we make a mistake, you are a professional driver and should set an example, know better, etc. If they are the (much better) paid professional, who get living away from home, motels and meals paid (that I am sure are better than some roadhouse tucker) and have showers and toilets available at the least each night, then all we ask if we do behave with respect, is that they do the same.

I will be the first to say not all truckies are respectful, professional or the worlds best drivers, but surely we should be treated with initial respect on the side of the road, unless we act badly. To be accosted with “LICENSE AND LOGBOOK”, no please or anything, no wonder some of our blokes do not respond so nicely. And just imagine, as will have happened during this blitz, last week, some drivers will be pulled in and grilled, delayed for far more than a few minutes, and then still get pulled into the weighbridge less than half an hour up the road.

I have had drivers tell me of being stopped four times in one day for a “roadside inspection” and one fellow topped this with five times. On the fifth, he asked the policeman who had stopped him, who he had killed to be stopped so often in one trip. The officer said, well, how did you go with the last four, no problems, was the reply, well I’m going to ping you for this. Strange then that the driver involved was not overly impressed with the roadside inspections. There must be a better way to spend the taxpayers money than having some trucks stopped three or four times in one day and many not stopped at all.

I have been stopped southbound by TMR Qld before Goondiwindi during one blitz, only to be stopped again at Boggabilla by RMS NSW less than 20 minutes later. How is that reasonable to anyone? When such blitzes occur, then the public see all the police etc stopping trucks and think we must all be bad and the resources and costs involved, must be astronomical and so they then have to issue as many fines as possible to both justify the cost of the operation and then to crow about how many things they found wrong or illegal. The fact they will NEVER release the full outcome and list of offences, which, I truly believe, would show many minor and non-safety related things, but which they still include with the few bad things, then they are wrongly portraying the whole industry.

But will I, as a single driver, get listened to or even heard in the media? Believe me I have tried, sometimes getting a fair go and others, not even being able to get through to give a reasoned view. Then some that might get through, are either already riled at how we have been treated and portrayed, but may not be the best spokesperson we might have to give our view. I am closely aware of some television shows, that will far more likely give time to a yahoo who will yell and scream and swear, which makes us all look like idiots, than give that time to someone who can and will offer, a far more reasoned and reasonable response. Still, as one driver, I can only keep trying. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

18th November 2018. TIV initiative reaches Ten Years on the road.

Goodaye all. This is my “press release” for the TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle (TIV) initiative reaching ten years and I have sent it to all who have supported the TIV thus far and to industry press. My November Owner Driver column (out this week) is to the same theme. (Sorry the photos in the press release do not transfer, more to learn yet.)

TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle Initiative Reaches Ten Years.
Not being able to convince a major transport company of the value of this idea, I left after 29 years. I approached Rod Pilon for a job and with this plan for a working truck to promote road safety and the road transport industry. Rod said if I work out ok, in 12 months he’d buy me a new truck and trailers.
Ken Wilkie, knowing of my dream, offered me his K104 for two years and I then asked Rod Pilon if I could buy the trailers I was towing. Rod said he would buy me a new set and I made up a list which Rod approved and at the ATA convention in Canberra in 2008, Rod bought the second offered auction trailer and said he wanted a b-double set and that was agreed to. I went to congratulate Rod and he got up and shook my hand and said, “There are your trailers”.

New TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle Trailers being picked up at Vawdrey in Melbourne on Ken Wilkie’s K104 in 2008.

Rod had said I could have the sides of the back trailer, but then agreed to look at my curtain design and on a laptop, it looked “busy”. Rod’s “mmm” when I showed him was not what I’d hoped for, but when I arrived in the yard in Dubbo with the first load, Rod said, “You did well, it does look good”.
Two years on, Thanking Ken Wilkie for a gesture unlikely ever to be equalled, I gave his truck back and then spent a year back in RPT Truck 7. Rod Pilon then offered to buy me a new K200 and to continue with his support. I had many sponsors who contributed to the new truck and or the trailers and I thank them all for their participation and support. With a new truck, I had to do new curtains and with Rod’s permission, I designed and ordered a set which I funded through photos/ donations.

Last Trip First TIV 2010, Thanks Ken. RPT Truck 7 and TIV trailers. New K200 at Kenworth Plant 2011

TIV trailers one million kilometres 2013. Reach two million end of 2018. Only one trailer brake lining just replaced.

The current TIV prime mover will reach 1.4 million kilometres in August and the trailers will be 10 years old in October this year and I am working on the next TIV.

Without the support of Rod Pilon and all at Rod Pilon Transport, the TIV would not exist, nor be able to attempt to offer a picture of road transport to the public not seen anywhere else. The NRMA video, “NRMA hitches a 10 hour ride with a truckie” was seen by well over a million people and the 99% positive comments alone, justify the TIV. When I started, I decided the worst thing that could happen would be that I would waste my time, effort and money and if nothing changed, so be it. But if I saved just one life by getting a bit of road fixed, or a rest area built or improved, or educated one motorist, then it would be well worth the effort and I am proud of what the TIV has achieved.

TIV as AB Triple on way to Mt Isa. TIV at night.

TIV Conspicuity Markings.

TIV at ACRS 2016 Awarded Highly Commended. TIV at Henty Field Days. TIV at “Stone the Crows” Festival Wagga Wagga.

I wish to THANK Ken Wilkie, Rod Pilon and all at Rod Pilon Transport and all the sponsors who have contributed and or supported the TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle over its’ ten year journey. Without you all, it would not exist. I commit to doing it again in the next TIV for the next five years and would welcome any and all support that will allow me to achieve even more. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

For a list of events/riders in the TIV visit http://www.truckright.com.au and follow http://www.truckright.blog
================================================================================
As you might imagine and knowing how I don’t want to be seen to be blowing my own trumpet, (though if I don’t who will?) I could write a book on the ten years and do aim to one day. But few may be interested in that much depth of information, particularly being to many, just another truckies life.
The TIV is still probably not really widely known outside the road transport industry, though not for the want of trying and any of you who have access to a different market or group, I would welcome your support if you wish to redistribute it further. It is only one small attempt to change and improve how we are seen and to show a different side to that which all too often, is the only way the press show us, after something happens on the road leading to the death of a motorist.

We are not all perfect and I have never made that claim, but I still hope and believe those who do the job because they love it, still do it with some passion and recognition of the part we have to play to be seen that way. Those idiots who just do the job and don’t care how we are seen or treated, can go and do another job if they wish.

I am not, cannot and do not claim to be a representative for others, good or bad, but do try to do more than “just” be a driver and I applaud all others who make any effort to do the right thing and to improve our lot, on the road and elsewhere. Thanks to those who do make that effort, whether a driver, a journo or other industry role bearer. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.