Denied basic facilities

By: Ken Wilke

Truck drivers are denied the well-appointed rest areas specifically aimed at pampered tourists

Denied basic facilities
… and a warm farewell for those well-rested tourists


In my previous article I went on at some length about hypocrisy and also my delight in doing a run to the north-west of Western Australia. Bless me if the WA thing has not happened again.

In the Courier-Mail of the May 24, a comment attributed to Ben Maguire, the Australian Trucking Association’s (ATA) CEO, was printed. Good one Mr Maguire. Another has appeared since. It looks to me like the ATA might have turned over a new leaf. Mr Maguire was reported as saying the lack of basic facilities for truckies showed a lack of respect and a disregard for drivers’ safety by closing rest areas to store road works material and in addition, "general access to toilets, lighting and water are a basic human right".

I have a T-shirt provided by Owner//Driver some years ago that has the message front and back that "Truckies are Human Too". Maybe it’s a message that we should have been stencilled on our high visibility work wear.

"Truckies rev up over toilets". Reflects both the ignorance and indifference of the reporter I feel. His name foots the article. And as I would expect of a politician, the Queensland Transport Minister responded in it’s not-me-your-honour comment that his department has provided over 60 new or upgraded rest areas and 20 new stopping places. And to a degree I have to compliment Queensland in putting in some additional toilet facilities. But if one uses our logbook as an analogy, 60 correct entries does not let us off the hook for one error.

It’s interesting that Ben’s comments appeared when they did as I was intending to enlarge on the fatigue rest area debacle that exists up in the north-west. The Northern Territory government, and to a lesser extent WA, has gone to considerable lengths to provide rest areas for tourists on their major routes across the top end. They run to toilets and shade sheds for the convenience of tourists and they appear to be provided for frequent intervals of around 50 or so kilometres apart. Very nice and considerate when one considers that tourism is a major source of income for the area.

But there’s definitely no access for those who deliver the goods that allow the tourists to survive, let alone enjoy their sojourn to the wondrous north-west.

Of course I am aware that some totally self-contained tourists (on board shower and fart boxes) are prone to use the wide open area of truck rest stops, thereby denying them to us. But I am absolutely disgusted at the signs telling tourists to move on for the tourists’ safety. What about the safety of truckies denied a rest point to manage fatigue? Does the bureaucrat who designed such signs consider truckies will willingly run over ignorant tourists? Bugger me.

And what of the trucking fraternity? Yes, one could probably fit two or three triples in most pull-off points. Some have rubbish bins supplied, some even carry advice where the next rubbish bin might be found (see photo below).

Toilets? Well it’s pretty obvious that truckies; male or female have no need to defecate for there is absolutely no effort to provide for that provision and equally no effort to provide information where such facilities might be available. The only sites on offer are from the private sector at road houses – and they are invariably locked overnight. In addition trucks risk being vandalised by local delinquents if parked overnight at some business sites.

 Left to the Elements. Read more


Where ya bin?

Again, on the provision of rubbish bins, there’s a truck rest stop some 15km west of Fitzroy Crossing. No bins and I doubt if I’ve ever seen so much plastic in one spot before. No credit to the trucking community – if indeed truckies are responsible. We’ll get the blame anyway.

The other two photos on this page highlight points I’ve mentioned. One is a shot of a tourist rest site with the toilet neatly placed at the back of the site. The third both names the particular site and wishes the tourist a nice rest. I’ll bet you’ve never seen that sign gracing even the best truck driver rest area.

One of my travelling companions on the great WA adventure was operating a late model ‘AdBlue’ jigger. Oh, what drama. He had extreme difficulty in sourcing the stuff from bowsers. For some reason the bloody things would not or could not deliver. But not to worry; it was usually available in stores in take away containers. Ah, but the mark-up was often in the vicinity of three times the bowser price.

The trucking industry is forced to pay a big premium through the mandatory use of AdBlue to offset the pollution thrown into the air on New Year’s Eve and kids highlights at the local country show. Marvellous what politicians and bureaucracy will do to gain votes!


Cooling clamour

On to rest areas for truckies and engine off-cab cooling – I am pretty sure there is legislation requiring no lawn mowers be operated before a certain hour in the morning and an even later time on Sundays. It is all about preserving the comfort of others against inconsiderate neighbours. Now apparently some truckies are up in arms about being moved out of Goomeri in south-east Queensland because they have been running those confounded noisy internal combustion driven cooling devices in town overnight.

I was in Dalby the other afternoon just on sundown. The last few days in May with a foretaste of winter in the air and some ‘person’ had one going then. I was wondering if I should pull another blanket from the locker to accommodate the lower temperature. With such lack of respect for the comfort of neighbours, is it any wonder that we are on the nose in the view of a lot of society - even when out of a built up area.

I know there is dirge of rest areas out of town. These things can stop fellow drivers from having a good night’s rest. How the hell manufacturers can boast about the advantages of these things as a fatigue virtue when they cause so much fatigue distress to neighbours is beyond me. They are not even a constant noise as their volume is up and down like – well the noise volume is not constant which makes it more distracting.

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