Opinion, Rod Hannifey

Truck parking bay watch

Mixing a regular driving job with road safety and rest area meetings can be a juggling act

 

The recommendations from the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into ‘Issues affecting truck drivers’ were released just in time before the NSW Road Safety Forum (concerned with the rising road toll) happened in Sydney on March 18 at the Sydney University of Technology. As far as I saw, I was the only working truckie invited. Simon O’Hara from Road Freight NSW was there and I believe NatRoad attended via Zoom. There were some volunteer road safety practitioners including Peter Fraser from the Yellow Ribbon campaign, ministers, Transport for NSW staff and police and many others.

Of the nine recommendations, the first was to build and supply more truck rest areas, and the next four were about industrial sites, truck parking bays, loss of rest areas and then car drivers education about truck bays. Five of the nine recognised the issue of the current lack of suitable and sufficient sites. They have three months to respond. I had wanted to see what came out first, so I could either push harder and or add more at the Sydney meeting.

I had asked my workplace to see if I could attend the Sydney meeting and, for them, the best way was to run me in and out of Sydney till the Thursday, lend me the ute to get in there and then load out later. It was a bit of a change in a single for the week and running in and out over the mountain meant a road less travelled, but the one which many years ago, 25 to be exact, saw the need for and the first iteration of the then blue but now green reflector marking of informal truck bays.

Image: Rod Hannifey

At the meeting in Sydney I pushed our needs, spoke with the Minister attending and invited him along with a few others for a trip. I spoke with the area Police Commander who is keen to do something in the Dubbo area with myself and some other local companies and drivers in the future, so that might be interesting.

We had group sessions where we raised issues and responded to questions raised and I believe there will then be follow up when all is collated. Reductions in the road toll of other countries were looked at, with the aim of what works there, might work here, but we will see. Some ideas, for example, included using the point-to-point cameras – which only target trucks now – for cars as well as is done in every other state seems to be a no-brainer.

I had asked previously how many trucks had been detected and whether the enormous cost to only monitor trucks was justified. They did quote figures of a major reduction on speeding of trucks and a reduction in crashes, but honestly, with the hills within the zones I doubt many if any trucks, unless nearly empty, could beat the time unless they were stupidly running off every hill at big speeds.

Speeding trucks

As an aside, I would ask how many of you in trucks with tracking and company policing of speed and other factors now have trouble with other trucks who either aren’t so closely monitored, pushing you along and/or are keen to get past. There are still some faster trucks, but nothing like the days of old. Unless you are an owner-driver with no one watching you, I don’t see how many could get away with higher speeds anywhere, let alone on point to point, without having a record or company chasing them every time.

Image: Prime Creative Media

Any company has (though not really in court much) and will be held liable when something goes pear shaped or they are audited, but the other issue is, where do you draw the line? I doubt many motorists could honestly say they never exceed the speed limit, even if only by a few kilometres, so if we do 200,000-plus km a year, then does hitting 101 or 103 really affect your safety, or that of anyone else for that matter?

I have often asked when such issues are discussed, “Do you want me watching the road, or the speedo?”. Which do you reckon is more important? But of course, most will say they never speed. Yeah, right!

Then the following week I was able to get back into Dubbo on the Thursday afternoon and drive to Canberra for the Heavy Vehicle Rest Area Steering Committee (HVRASC) meeting. There were many new applications and we covered them all on the day. Our recommendations then go to the government and eventually the minister will decide and announce successful applicants. We have a long way to go to catch up.

I have emailed Transport for NSW citing some roads with nowhere to stop at all and am making a list. The current work being done between Wee Waa and Pilliga does not include a stopping bay or shoulder work that would give us somewhere to stop safely along there. Then from Pilliga to Coonamble is the same, work being done but nowhere to stop. The same applies from Collarenebri to Walgett and I am sure there are many others.

We don’t need a 20-road train bay on every road, but we do need safe places to stop. There is no guarantee they will listen or act, but I will keep trying.

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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