Aiming for change

By: Rod Hannifey


More rest areas and better roads – just two of many goals the industry should be aiming for this year

Aiming for change
What's the biggest issue you face on the roads?

 

I have some questions for you in this New Year. What is the biggest issue you face on the road and who do you think can fix it?

I had a retired driver ring me about my December 2018 column. He says the industry and its people have changed. He is right, but it is not just us. The whole world and the people in every job have changed and no one can take us back to the "good old days". He says he is glad he is out and would never go back on the road, but is going to join the Drivers Club and will keep in touch.

I have read numerous posts on Facebook sites about the problems we face and how to fix them, but I am sure any of you who too have read them will agree that it soon becomes a situation ‘where no-one will do anything and we must stay together to get anything done’.

Then you get those who love to say, "f*** this and that" as well as those who disagree with them. But there is rarely any follow up. Saying we must keep together and do this and that is all good – but who and how?

Social media is good to get a message out to some, to watch peoples’ comments and feelings on subjects, but you cannot get away from those who you would not even allow to drive a wheelbarrow. It’s much like you can’t control the idiots on the UHF radio that have nothing better to do than annoy us.

 

Driver feedback

We have the union for some but not all. I was approached by another driver who heard me doing the Truckies Top Ten Tips on the Night Shift radio program on Triple M with Luke Bona. This driver wanted to tell me in glowing detail of what the union has done, and none of it good. You could say he is not a fan of unions and when I had sat down to eat, he came back and wanted to tell me some more. He said I should tell everyone what the unions have done, or that maybe he would be good on the radio. Maybe he would.

The next driver rang, saying he wanted to chat and did not know who else to talk to. We talked for quite some time and I hope I helped with some of his issues.

While filming our Truckies Top Ten Tips I offered to help a tipper driver hook up his dog trailer. He thanked me and came back saying he knew who I was. He raised an issue out of my league and experience, but we agreed on a course of action and he will keep me informed.

I am happy to talk to or listen to anyone and will help where I can. Even some of our own company drivers want something done at times, but how do we get anything changed at all? We can take our issues to our boss, wider issues to the Australian Trucking Association, its member associations if you can join one, or you can go to the union but, like us, none of them are perfect for all. They have boards, members and constitutions to abide by.

I have tried working with the union. The Transport Workers Union’s local fellow did help me once when much younger, and he like many others in all of these groups, was genuine and wanted to help his members. But do such groups get lost or lose touch if they get too big?

With the drivers I hear from I have tried to help where I can and have worked with nearly every group in Australian road transport over the last 20 years. I would like to think some recognise the effort. I’m not aware of any who have a real problem with what I do as an individual.

Have any of our issues been fully solved or fixed? I imagine you will agree that they have not.

 

Pushing for change

My aims this year have not changed from last year as the problems have not been fixed. I want to push for a number of things:

1. A National Truck Rest Area Strategy. We are falling further behind with truck rest areas and with a few new ones, but many more trucks, cars and caravans on the road, we are losing ground. I cannot chase every council and district and unless they are required to seek either approval or replace any rest area they remove, we will continue to fall behind and while we are about to have national rest area guidelines, someone must take control nationally.

2. A National Road Standard. We need to be able to nominate a dangerous or deformed bit of road and know it will be fixed. Five years to get one bit of road fixed at Yelarbon is not only criminal, it is negligent and our lives are being put at risk, yet we are all told to be road safe.

These include:

  • Getting road signs properly aligned. Many are incorrectly angled, reflecting back and blinding drivers.
  • Pursuing the aims and getting more people involved in the Drivers Club and giving them a voice.
  • Chase the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator for split rest and personal use for Basic Fatigue Management.
  • Improve sharing the road with trucks education. We aim to have the Truckies Top Ten Tips on video ready for release at Easter for all to use at no cost, but I would like to see it used for learner driver education at time of licensing.
  • And getting the next TruckRight Industry Vehicle on the road.

There’s lots to do and I would welcome your help.

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