Inmates in charge

By: Ken Wilke

Bureaucracy appears unaware that restricting truck movements has a marked effect on the economy


What a nation of bloody idiots we have become. VicRoads has found that Somerville Road has been listed as a B-double route when it should not have been. Their solution is to expect operators to obtain a permit from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR). So what is that going to improve?

The current performance of the NHVR in provision of permits is another complication to this saga. The first thing that these "people" need to get into their thick skulls is that trucks do not operate for the pleasure of truck drivers or truck business operators. Heavy vehicles are purely and simply a tool of the economy.

Road transport has developed to the extent that it has purely and simply because it is the most efficient means of land transport available. Bureaucracy just cannot seem to be able to get its mind around what is the job description of road transport. Trucks come from all over and go everywhere.

Somerville Road is not a B-double route – but it has been accepted as such for how long? Who is going to explain to the family man truck driver from ‘Whoop Whoop’ that the rules have changed?

As there is no reason why the driver should question what has been acceptable previously, most likely his first knowledge will be the enforcement officer writing out the ticket. So one B-double can get a permit. That tells me that there’s no physical barrier to B-doubles using the road.


Further up the chain. Read more

Trucks will only use the road where there is an economic driver, for example, either delivering or collecting products. Those products are part of the economy. Bureaucracy cannot restrict truck movements without impeding the economy.


Cry of the curfew

I’m from out of town with no prior knowledge of an area. Suddenly I’m confronted by a curfew area. What now? Needless to say there are no holding areas provided at the point where the curfew is mandated. It’s akin to the fatigue regulations. Heaps of laws written but no provision for those who are required to comply.

I had the pleasure of doing a ‘government’ job the other week. What a bloody laugh with some of the requirements. High visibility clothing (definitely not faded) with long sleeves and long pants, hard hat less than two years old, steel capped boots (no steel capping to be visible and plenty of tread on the sole), a pair of gloves with anti-cut rating of three and a clip to hang them from my belt.

My thoughts went back to Dad. We were driving cattle along a road and this farmer was working with barbed wire, wearing gloves. Dad’s comments were pretty disparaging. Dad never even wore gloves in the coldest of mornings.

The other point that had me in stitches while fulfilling the government job were the two Toyota HiLux utes on Brisbane’s Deagon Deviation site with ‘runaway’ chocks in place. Had the wind changed direction, the chocks would have been on the wrong side. Maybe the Toyota Company has a case for the slandering of their product.

And the run back to Brisbane? It’s road safety week up here and there is much concern that Queensland’s road toll is much higher than the previous year. And there should be deep concern.

To me it is something of a miracle that it is not even worse. Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m not perfect but if I do have any competency it’s in the field of driving. I am happy to admit to people that I am pretty bloody hopeless in most things but at driving I might rate just about average.

Two points – all driving is speeding and selfish people can’t be good drivers. And haven’t we become a nation of ‘stuff you Jack, I’m alright’.

A third point - there is an old catch cry that ignorance is bliss. Well it might be blissful for the ignorant but when they start making the rules, the rest of us cop a real hammering.


Negative impression

It is still grey nomad time up in Queensland; plenty of caravans on the road. One of those recently demonstrated why some truckies have an issue with the group as a whole. And a truck transporting aluminium ingots gave a good example why truckies are not well regarded as a group also.

Much work has been done on improving overtaking opportunities on the Bruce Highway over the years, but as I’ve stated earlier in this article, so many in bureaucracy simply don’t understand road transport.

Why construct an overtaking lane from half way to the top of a rise? Why not commence it before the bottom of the rise to give trucks an opportunity to commence the overtaking procedure while they still have road speed?

‘Mr Aluminium’ was frustrated by the slow progress and in an attempt to get the job done, crossed the double lines at the start of the extra lane while he had the road speed to get around. It didn’t look at all good from my position. There was definitely no oncoming traffic – there was enough forward visibility to be sure of that. It simply was a bad, bad message. Now, had the caravanner offered the following motorists some courtesy we wouldn’t have arrived at that situation. But as my Mum used to say, two wrongs don’t make a right.

Driver discipline on the whole run back was a dog’s breakfast. On the multi lanes to the north of Brisbane traffic was just not flowing with vehicles all over the shop at varying speeds. Currently the only message the road safety brigade can issue is to slow down and zero tolerance on speed. As all driving is speeding, this society needs to concentrate some effort on reducing the potential for accidents. When it is all said and done, any physical interaction between vehicles even at speeds less than the arbitrarily set limit is not going to be good. There needs to be a bench mark speed advised with open discussion that the breach point, for ease of calculation, to be say 10 percent above the benchmark.

Driver’s speeds were causing frustration, which in turn leads to ill-considered passing manoeuvres and tailgating, all of which increase the risk of crashing. I call this promoting friction in the traffic flow.

Another gem raising its ugly head: Slowing to 40km/h in the vicinity of emergency lights. No one will get an argument from me in relation to giving roadside workers room for safety. If only the geese who are promoting this 40k crap could just get the full picture. Sure, providing adequate notice is given. One can slow a B-double or road train or even just a heavy combination with safety. But what about the sudden concertina effect of the traffic flow?

Coming into Brisbane the other night at around the 100km/h limit – a bit below if anything – while going around this curve and suddenly there’s this RACQ bloke with numerous flashing ambers trying to recover a breakdown. I had no hope in hell of achieving 40km/h. And it is just as tragic to flatten an RACQ bloke as it is to annihilate a full scale emergency worker. The recovery team had no space to move further off the shoulder.

I guess you know that in Queensland we build railroads everywhere. Some have trains running on them which are okay as one doesn’t need shoulders. But most have been covered in bitumen.

Having no shoulders on a rail line converted to road use causes much trouble. So does panic stopping a heavy vehicle. This idea is akin to throwing the baby out with the bath water. Ignorant, stupid and an over-abundance of self-importance - that’s Australia’s road safety law makers.

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