Opinion, Rod Hannifey

Doing the rounds – Eyes on the Road

Eyes on the Road

I had plans to get a few jobs done before attending Sydney TruckFest at Clarendon, but spent each of the three week-ends prior away in the truck so I did not get it as complete as I would have liked.

I managed to get one day in Dubbo just before and get service and a couple of things tidied at least and had also washed it each week, hoping the rain would hold off, but that did not play well either.

Thursday morning after unloading at Newcastle and still raining, I rang Bruce Gunter at TruckFest, telling him I might get there with a dirty truck with the weather, but in the end it was fine, or sort of, in Sydney, got the set washed at Smeaton Grange and they even did the tyre shine (thanks fellas) and got to TruckFest just before 6pm with a gleaming truck and trailers. I had a list of jobs to do, set up banners and was ready for the opening Friday morn.

The weather did not help Friday, though there were a good few people who braved it and walked about, but Saturday was a roaring success and the rain held off till about 5pm, but slowed attendance on Sunday as well.

All I spoke to rated it a success. You can’t control the weather and we all hope it will go and grow and become a major fixture on the trucking calendar. Congratulations to Bruce and Brendon and all the team behind them, the volunteers and all who made the effort to attend.

The truck rides were an absolute hit and there were five trucks running at times and the sweet sound of GMs running round the block (the V8 Valueliner was good too) was nearly as good as the musical entertainment. A terrific event that would have been a fantastic starter, but the weather just doused it a bit and you can’t stop that.

I had one of the nicest personal visits at such an event ever. A fellow came in, looked a bit nervous but introduced himself and said, “I am not involved in trucking, have never driven a truck, but have always had an interest in how things get delivered to us all. I have read everything you have written, listed to radio and podcasts and just want to thank you for what you do.”

I had a number of truckies do the same, but for this to come from a member of the public was such a change and a really nice thought. It made my day.

TruckFest was due to finish at 5pm, but did wrap up a bit early, so having put my banners away during a nice patch of sun where I had got them all dry, I took the truck back to the yard.

My son drove in and picked me up and we headed to the Opera House for the NSW launch of Road Safety Week at 6PM. I had phoned and thanked them for the invite and asked could I bring the truck, saying it would be good to include a truck as we often get left out of such things, but they declined the offers.

Of course, once I got there, I couldn’t have got even the prime mover anywhere near the venue, but having not been there before, you can only ask.

Truckie Tuesday

I had gone straight from TruckFest in my new Truckie Tuesday shirt and jeans, so was perhaps a bit underdressed. Most were in suits and, of course, once the talking was done, it was announced they would be lighting the Sydney Harbour Bridge in yellow and with signage to promote Road Safety Week. The reason for the venue was obvious as we had a good view of the bridge.

There was a family there, directly impacted by a crash and like others, told their story to try and prevent others from ending up in the same reality. In our job you’re forever on the road, but none of us go to work and expect not to get home. Yet our actions and that of others can change that in less than a second.

You can make a pledge, you can convince yourself you will do everything right and safely, then someone else won’t and you and/or them could die. Please give it some thought.

I spoke with Minister John Graham and he has agreed to come and do a trip in the truck. Then I caught up with the head of Transport for NSW and asked about the new school program they announced and whether it will have a sharing the road with trucks component, offering a business card and to contribute. I then gave a list of three savage dips on the Newell that it is taking too long to fix to another gent I knew.

It was said in the meeting that those involved with road safety have to use their networks and get these messages out and again, in some ways, we are still too often left out, but I do appreciate the fact they invited me and so I did seek further involvement.

It was said they thought the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator wanted to do the trucking things, but it is the car drivers we need to educate about sharing the road with trucks.

We need the rest areas to manage our fatigue and to have toilets like normal people and we need the bloody roads fixed, not just patched and sealed over the broken parts. That method will then fail and we will be yet again blamed for damaging the roads they do not fix properly.

Nor do they recognise or consider they enormous rise in maintenance costs. And if the roads are in poor shape, they are affecting the truck drivers, body, health and ability to do the job safely, so we have a long way to go.

Phone detection cameras, after a trial, will all become seatbelt cameras in July, as still 15 per cent of deaths still involve those not wearing seatbelts. Other actions will be pursued to save lives. Please do your part.

ROD HANNIFEY, a transport safety advocate, has been involved in raising the profile of the industry, conducting highway truck audits, the Blue Reflector Trial for informal parking bays on the Newell, the ‘Truckies on Road Code’, the national 1800 number for road repairs proposal, and the Better Roadside Rest Areas Group. Rod is the current past president of the NRFA. Contact Rod on 0428 120 560, e-mail rod.hannifey@bigpond.com or visit www.truckright.com.au

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