Opinion

Have your say on poor NSW roads and facilities

OPINION: Time is running out for truck drivers to voice their opinions to the NSW Government on inadequate roads and rest areas

 

There is to be a New South Wales inquiry into matters affecting truckies. I had been approached, being told it was about rest areas but, politics being what it is, there is a part regarding truck heights and hitting bridges. There are always those individuals who will stuff it up for others. The traffic chaos and effects are real and don’t do us any favours, but if we get something done to improve our lot in NSW, then it is worth the effort.

The ballyhoo and carry on about the last fellow who stopped and did the right thing, calling the number and, without even touching the bridge, shows just how knee jerk reactions can explode. When I was told it was only a piece of alloy sticking up, it showed that the truth can often be a long way from what we see and hear.

There is scope on the terms of reference to include other things which affect fatigue and driver safety, so roads will get a big push from me. Please consider making a submission. If there is only one from me then we will miss the chance to have a say. Submissions close on September 18 so you will have to act quickly.

Broken roads

My focus will be on the lack and loss of rest areas, as well as the failure to listen and act. For example, the lack of a changeover facility on the Pacific Highway and how the condition of roads, bad maintenance practices and bumps and dips that are not broken roads, but which have enormous impacts into trucks, can and do impact the safety of all drivers.

I feel there are some people at certain road authorities who may well take offence to my views, but whose life is at stake? Not those sitting back and watching, that’s for sure. Does anyone from any road authority really recognise the increased levels of stress from bad roads? Or the raised tension from watching every car and truck coming toward you and hoping they don’t hit a hole, even if they can see it, let alone a deformation that doesn’t show up, then swerve across the road?

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I am a member of the group The Newell Highway Taskforce, made up of mayors and councils along the Newell in NSW. I can’t always get to the meetings but two meetings ago I raised the issue of losing truck bays during the building of the new overtaking lanes on the Newell. The Transport for NSW fellow responded saying they were aware of the issue and were looking to replace the two sites lost. The problem with that is there have been six sites lost since this started over five years ago. I rang when the work started, during and after, and was told “we will look at replacing the lost site”.

I am sure you will be shocked to hear that the site lost at Trewilga, where I listed eight possible options of which four were perfect, would cost little to have as truck bays. However, five years on they have never been replaced and we continue to lose more sites.

We are going backwards with truck rest area spots. We continue to lose sites when the number of trucks, caravans and motorhomes keep climbing.

Have your say

So, will you have a quick look at the terms of reference and put in a submission? It may cost you half an hour (or you can check my Facebook page and copy some of that). I aim to put mine up the week before.

If you run one highway most of the time, make a short list of where you think truck bays might be needed and any savage impacts, whether the road is broken or not. I have bought a small voice recorder and plan to start making a list (along with a list of phone dropout points which will be my next major focus). It is not even half funny that many of the most severe impacts are not from roads that are and can be seen to be ‘broken’, but from subsidences, bad bridge joins plus old and/or lousy repairs.


RELATED ARTICLE: Newell Highway to receive new overtaking lanes


I have also been asking Transport for NSW to fix two savage dips in the new work about 20km south of Goondiwindi ever since shortly after the new road was opened. They lasted for a couple of months but strangely enough are getting worse. Do you think that could have anything to do with the hundreds of trucks that hit them each day? Do they think I will stop and wave my magic wand and they will disappear or that someone else will come along and fix them? I can see them, feel them and I reckon they kicked hard enough to move the pallet that shifted a few weeks ago. Yet they are still there.

NSW is not alone. The humps near the silos at Brookstead in Queensland are nearly as bad. The bridge at Cainbil Creek on the Golden Highway in NSW, along with many others, is up there for impacts too.

So, will you make the effort to have a say? Will you put in 30 minutes, not just for me, but for yourself and other drivers? It could help to not only make them safer, but you might even save a life, maybe even yours!

Go to the website www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/inquiries/pages/inquiries.aspx and click on ‘Pressures on heavy vehicle drivers and their impact in New South Wales’ to go straight to the Submissions Page. But hurry, submissions close on September 18.

To fill out a quick survey on western Sydney heavy vehicle rest stops, go to the NSW Government website to have your say.

 

*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 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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