OPINION: Setting a poor example

By: Ken Wilkie

Selfish behaviour from within the truck industry is bringing us unwanted and negative attention


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I recently posted a letter to the editor which appeared in the May edition of Owner//Driver, raising the issue of cloned number plates. I have spoken directly to the operator concerned. The matter is well in the hands of the fraud squad. However, my friend in the process of sorting out his quandary, has been informed that it is not such an uncommon practice by the community low lifers.

So what can we honest people do to thwart these scum? Folks, monitor your bills and ensure you are being charged only for what service you have used. And if an anomaly comes to light, make sure your service provider is notified and most definitely inform the police fraud squad.

This operator is out of pocket several thousand dollars and has suffered the indignity of being visited by police accusing him of doing robberies as the cloned plates were recognised at a crime scene. Maybe the bureaucratic cost saving of getting rid of annual rego stickers was not really a step in the right direction.

Just yesterday I had cause to use the Newell highway north from Coonabarabran to Brisbane. In general the drivers sharing the road with me were considerate and courteous. Ah, but not all. For the first few miles north from Coonabarabran, as most of us know, there are several undulations that try the horsepower output. And we well know that some engines perform better than others – loads are heavier than others and so on.

This thing, a double with a heap of matchsticks on, was doing it a bit harder up the rises than the double pan behind. The second driver was content to tuck in behind in the early stages, if for no better reason than overtaking opportunities are limited. However, at one point the second driver had a good clear run on a downhill section and moved out to overtake the goose with the wood sticks on. Old wood sticks just kept going until the pan driver accepted the futility of his mission, applied the brakes and stepped back in behind.

There are a couple of overtaking lanes in the Pilliga these days, but sadly they are not all facing uphill. Old mate in the pan made another attempt on the first, but matchsticks raced him the full length and the pan once again had to drop in behind.

I don’t really know how the job was eventually achieved, but achieved it was on the next three-lane section. There was some discussion between the two at that point and I don’t think it had anything to do with invitations to each other’s birthday party.

Don’t we have enough issues with everybody outside our professional ranks without doing the bastard thing to each other? And what did the folks in the two sedans make of the shenanigans?

Inconsiderate motorists

More good industry coverage! Bugger me, I was relating the incident to a friend once I arrived home and he had a similar situation between Charleville and Morven with a triple load of cattle. It’s no secret how fast three by two decks can go downhill – terminal speed is only subject to how long the down goes for.

It must have been something to do with the weather on the day. He got into the less-than-straight flat bits east of Inglewood, around 8pm, following what was obviously an empty tanker.

Low and behold – a slower, smaller interstate vehicle. On the relatively short overtaking lane the car driver tried to keep the truck out even though the truck was obviously quicker. Who really would want to drive trucks?

Industry misrepresentation

New South Wales police have stern words for the industry after a driver was found to have a gizmo that stopped the speedo working and an oral fluid that contained a prohibited drug, plus a GPS jamming device. That person deserves a good solid whack behind the ears – or anywhere else that’s in range.

How many people make up this industry? Why should a whole industry be denigrated by the actions of some dimwit? How many cops make up the New South Wales police force? Is there never any action by any police officer that could bring the whole force into disrepute? Absolutely – if one took the same line as the NSW police officer, we would bag the department instead of the individual. Of course that fool needs condemnation, and any like action irrespective of the profession should be heartily condemned. But the whole profession? Come on!

If the Australian Trucking Association were to ever gets its belated call to have all heavy vehicle accidents investigated by an independent entity, what proportion of accidents will be found to be the result of some like idiot? And what percentage would be of incompetent drivers who are innocent of any guilt beyond ignorance? What is the greater crime – that of an individual who has a callous indifference to their own wellbeing and also for others, or society’s leaders who by their arrogance and own lack of competency in the driving job description consider driver training to be superfluous to road safety outcomes?

What impact does this excessive denigration of industry drivers have on industry’s ability to attract ‘good’ operators? Rationally or otherwise, I consider my stress related health issues to be largely an outcome of being a conscientious person. I have a low tolerance to stress – granted. I’m never confident that I haven’t made a mistake somewhere and a mechanical issue has not developed that I was not aware of.

I’ve said it before, roadside interrogations are never times of light hearted banter and relaxing discourse between equals.

Curfew calamity

I came across a term the other day that really made me sit up straight. The Government has a policy of "competitive neutrality". Now ain’t that interesting. I wonder how the current method of gaining registration revenue would stack up under examination. I know that an honest investigator would find that single truck owners and many other categories are subsidising the majors to the hilt.

VicRoads is making an issue of heavy vehicles doing naughty things in relation to curfews. As someone doing a bit of oversize these days, tell me how I can find what times curfews are in place and what roads are subject to curfew? Then I’d like to know where I can lay over until such time that I won’t be disturbing the nice folk from being discomforted? And bear in mind that playing half a day on a computer is not in my job description.

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