After a near-miss with a 4WD in the Pil­bara re­gion of WA, Out­back jillaroo Jess Ed­wards up­loaded a Face­book video telling car driv­ers why they need to be care­ful around trucks. Jess talks to Ta­mara Whitsed about the safety mes­sage which has gone vi­ral

Deals on Wheels - - Operator Profile -

Jess Ed­wards’ adren­a­line was pump­ing when she parked a 2012 Ken­worth T659 near a farm gate­way to col­lect her thoughts after nar­rowly avoid­ing an ac­ci­dent.

She was about 30km north of Roe­bourne on the North West Coastal High­way in the Pil­bara re­gion of West­ern Aus­tralia. An im­pa­tient driver in a 4WD had at­tempted to over­take Jess on her left hand side as she was turn­ing left.

Jess avoided the col­li­sion by inches. Luck­ily she was only tow­ing one empty stock crate. She usu­ally pulls three trail­ers with about 150 head of cat­tle.

Be­fore her heart rate re­turned to nor­mal Jess pressed record on her mo­bile phone to make a video of what she would have liked to tell the 4WD driver if he or she hadn’t raced off to­wards the hori­zon with­out so much as an apolo­getic wave.

To Jess’s amaze­ment, sup­port from her Face­book fol­low­ers and the truck­ing com­mu­nity helped the two-minute video go vi­ral – it had been viewed more than a mil­lion times when

Deals On Wheels went to print.

OUT­BACK JILLAROO

A self-con­fessed ‘rev-head’, Jess grew up in sub­ur­ban Bris­bane and Gympie, Queens­land and is forg­ing a ca­reer and so­cial me­dia iden­tity as an Out­back jillaroo.

After work­ing at cat­tle sta­tions in Queens­land she headed to WA in 2014 with a dream of one day cart­ing cat­tle in road trains.

She al­ready had ex­pe­ri­ence cart­ing cat­tle and

So if a truck’s turn­ing, don’t try and scoot up the side of it.

horses with a rigid truck, and wanted to get into big­ger trucks. With help from Keen Broth­ers

Truck Driv­ing School she ob­tained her heavy com­bi­na­tion (HC) li­cence in 2014.

Friends helped her clock up kilo­me­tres in a road train while she pre­pared for her mul­ti­com­bi­na­tion (MC) li­cence, but she found it dif­fi­cult to land a paid truck-driv­ing job.

“I went down to Hopetoun in West­ern Aus­tralia and went har­vest­ing. I drove a chaser bin for a sea­son,” she says.

This ex­pe­ri­ence helped her se­cure a job driv­ing a semi for Ve­o­lia En­vi­ron­men­tal Ser­vices at Kar­ratha. Last year Jess passed her MC li­cence and be­gan a dream job as as­sis­tant man­ager at a cat­tle sta­tion in the Pil­bara.

Her day-to-day du­ties in­clude mon­i­tor­ing cat­tle, fix­ing wind­mills, fenc­ing, gen­eral main­te­nance and mus­ter­ing.

And, best of all, she reg­u­larly drove a three­trailer road train dur­ing the mus­ter­ing sea­son from June to Septem­ber, of­ten with about 150 head of cat­tle in the crates.

“It’s some­thing I’ve al­ways wanted to do, so

I’m re­ally lucky that I can cart cat­tle now,” Jess says. “It’s def­i­nitely more in­ter­est­ing than cart­ing gen­eral freight around town.

“The cat­tle move around in the truck so you have to stay in the mid­dle of the lane. You can’t go off to the side of the road be­cause then all of the cat­tle are go­ing to lean left, and that puts all the weight off. And you can’t slam your brakes on be­cause all the cat­tle move. They can fall over and break legs.”

Jess gen­er­ally stays fairly close to the North West Coastal High­way, mov­ing cat­tle from one sta­tion to an­other. “It’s not a su­per busy high­way but there are a few cars on it,” she says.

Un­for­tu­nately, she en­coun­ters plenty of im­pa­tient driv­ers who are not con­tent to sit be­hind the T659 – like the driver of the 4WD who tried to over­take Jess while she was turn­ing.

“I just want peo­ple to know a bit of im­pa­tience can get you in a lot of trou­ble,” Jess says, ex­plain­ing what mo­ti­vated her to make the video. “It’s bet­ter to be late than dead on ar­rival.”

Jess en­joys the free­dom of driv­ing a big rig. And she loves the Out­back scenery she sees from the driver’s seat. But she is con­scious of how dan­ger­ous truck driv­ing is. “I guess it’s one of the most dan­ger­ous jobs in the world,” she says. Mus­ter­ing was over when Deals On Wheels spoke to Jess, so she was spend­ing less time in the truck and more at the sta­tion. She wor­ries

It’s bet­ter to be late than dead on ar­rival.

about full-time truck­ies be­cause they en­counter im­pa­tient driv­ers all year round.

‘FLESH AND BLOOD’

Jess adopted a ‘tongue-in-cheek’ tone of voice for the video. After telling the cam­era that the truck is driven by a “flesh and blood” per­son “just like you” she in­tro­duces view­ers to the “bloody big whop­pin’ tyre” and “bloody big whop­pin’ bull bar” and tells them they don’t want to be hit by ei­ther of them.

“If you lose against that,” she says, point­ing to the bull bar, “then I’m go­ing to lose too, be­cause I’d have to deal with know­ing that I was in­volved in killing some­one.”

Then she kneels down at the back of the trailer. “I don’t know how they do it but th­ese things – in­di­ca­tors – mag­i­cally show you where we’re go­ing to go,” she says in a Play School voice. “So if a truck’s turn­ing, don’t try and scoot up the side of it. No! That would just be silly.”

Jess up­loaded the video to her Jillaroo Jess Face­book page on Septem­ber 24 while she was watch­ing car races at the Nickol Bay Speedway. By the end of the night she was sur­prised to see how quickly the video was liked and shared. “I woke up to a kind of chaos,” she tells Deals On

Wheels. “Overnight there were hun­dreds and hun­dreds of mes­sages, and al­ready there were a cou­ple of thou­sand shares.

“Most of the com­ments were sup­port from truck­ies and truck driv­ers’ fam­i­lies.

“They loved it. I think they were happy to hear some­one stand­ing up for them.”

There were also com­ments from car driv­ers who thanked Jess for ex­plain­ing why they shouldn’t over­take a turn­ing truck.

As Deals On Wheels goes to print, the video has over 14,000 likes and 14,000 shares. And it has al­most one mil­lion views.

The Jillaroo Jess Face­book Page has at­tracted an ad­di­tional 10,000 likes since Jess posted the video. “It’s still jump­ing up. It’ll get to 30,000 pretty soon,” Jess says.

Ad­ver­tis­ing agen­cies with large bud­gets would be happy to achieve those kind of num­bers with pro­fes­sional cam­paigns.

“I hon­estly just en­joy shar­ing my pho­tos and sto­ries. It’s re­ally quite an hon­our that so many peo­ple have de­cided that they en­joy lis­ten­ing to me,” she says.

Load­ing and un­load­ing three trail­ers of cat­tle is part of the job

Luck­ily Jess only had one empty stock crate be­hind the 2012 Ken­worth T659 when a 4WD tried to over­take her while she was turn­ing Jess is jump­ing for joy be­cause she gets to drive a road train in the Pil­bara

Snap­shots from Jillaroo Jess’s Face­book video

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