Opinion, Rod Hannifey

The road is our workplace

It’s at a snail’s pace but is the NSW Government at long last waking to the needs of truck drivers?

What is the difference between whingeing, complaining or just trying to be heard?

Now yes, if you say, “You so and so’s won’t listen and fix this XYZ problem”, you are certainly less likely to get them to then listen, aren’t you?

Of course, you would have to be a fool to say, “What a good job you have done” when that is certainly not the case.

So when you present the facts, “This is what I have done in trying to get you to listen and this is what happened,” and the problem is either still there or worse, is that not raising an issue to see action and a solution?

So going onto Facebook and doing either, without responding to a survey, request for information or even a government inquiry, will rarely if ever see change from simply complaining there.

Government is still people, like you and me. They don’t generally respond well to simple criticism, yet we as an industry have been asking for the same things for well over 30 years and the concerns are still the same and the solutions, certainly as we see them, have not changed.

However, they certainly have not been instituted or done to the necessary level required to solve the problem.

The road toll is still rising, there are more cars, lots more caravans and there are more trucks, simply to carry and deliver all the needs of all the people. We are a service industry to all Australians.

Yes, people travel to work to do their part, to do their jobs and they use the roads. Yes, there are others who use the roads in their work but there are few others where the road is their full workplace and their job is to use the road to deliver everything for everyone.

No solution

Transport for NSW recently released the Heavy Vehicle Rest Stop Stakeholder Engagement Report which is the result from the request for input into where we needed truck rest areas in NSW which started last year.

It is comprehensive, puts in black and white what we need and why (and it even states the road is our workplace, yet we can’t get government to agree and enshrine that as it leaves them open to a bigger problem) but it does not either offer a solution or a path to one.

It does say they are looking at ways to procure funding towards fixing it, but not how or even when such things are likely to happen.

Many of you who took part nominated Sydney as in need. There was another survey seeking input and comment (I completed it) specifically following the election promise where truck parking in Sydney was to be funded and improved.

Here’s hoping you responded to www.haveyoursay.nsw.gov.au/western-sydney-heavy-vehicle-rest-area before October 1 and put in your two or 20 cents worth. The survey was simple and took about 10 minutes.

Will it alone fix the problem? No! Will it be likely to achieve anything if only 10 drivers complete it? Probably not.

But if 1000 drivers took 15 minutes, they could possibly achieve more than I have done in years, because I have been asking for this since before the M7 was built and they tried to take away the dirt shoulder before where you turned off onto the M5. I explained it was the last place to stop and it was then retained, until progress took it away completely.

Until we have a tunnel many years from now, the M4 will sees A-doubles and 19 or 20 metre trucks coming that way, but the Hume, the Pacific and other routes are all doubles or bigger now and that must be taken into account.

Please let me know if you disagree but the one thing the report above did not specifically contain is the need for not just somewhere to stop and sleep but the need for a good sleep opportunity.

We can and do stop in places where we might get good sleep, right beside the Hume for example, so if you are buggered enough you will get some sleep.

But simply having a bit of dirt inches off the highway is not good enough if you are not tired but need to stop simply to comply.

At those times you might need shade – a toilet and even a shower would be nice – but you need to be in a place that you don’t have another truck pulling up either side of you every 15 minutes dropping maxis and slamming doors.

Being woken an hour into your seven hours is not the best way to get good quality sleep, which should set you up to do the next day’s work safely.

However, it is good to see these efforts in asking what we need, and where we need it by.

*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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