Global knowl­edge

Aus­tralia’s road trans­port in­dus­try mir­rors that of other west­ern­ised coun­tries, in both pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive ways. North­ern hemi­sphere-bound Rod Han­nifey writes

Owner Driver - - News - 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 f

I AM VERY proud to have been awarded a Churchill Fel­low­ship, specif­i­cally the NRMA/ACT Road Safety Trust spon­sored fel­low­ship, which was of­fered for any nom­i­nated project to do with road safety.

You could ap­ply for a spon­sored fel­low­ship as I did and, if un­suc­cess­ful, you were still able to en­ter the pool for a di­rect Churchill Fel­low­ship.

I have had peo­ple in the past sug­gest I should ap­ply, but never had the time, and the Truck­Right In­dus­try Ve­hi­cle (TIV) al­ways came first once it was on the road.

Now that I have achieved well over my ini­tial com­mit­ment of four years, I was look­ing for the next chal­lenge or project.

This is, of course, not to say all our prob­lems are fixed – far from it – but how can we make more progress?

I fol­low the United States trans­port in­dus­try for a num­ber of rea­sons: it may be the clos­est to us in the freight game, it has a higher and more pos­i­tive pub­lic pro­file, but again is not ev­ery­body’s favourite on the road.

It has Ja­son’s Law aimed at pro­vid­ing more truck rest ar­eas – still a work in progress, though. Not that this makes them bet­ter, but they have fol­lowed some of our fa­tigue changes.

It is one thing to speak to some­one on the phone, or even to watch, but it is an­other to ac­tu­ally see how things do or don’t work. I aim to visit the US, Canada and the UK to speak to those not only in the as­so­ci­a­tions and the in­dus­try press, but also to spend time on the road.

To be awarded a Churchill Fel­low­ship you have to ap­ply with a project, itin­er­ary, per­sonal ref­er­ence and project ref­er­ence. I be­lieve they can re­ceive up to 1200 ap­pli­ca­tions each year.

You then do a num­ber of in­ter­views; if you miss one you’re out of the run­ning. Th­ese in­ter­views go to­wards a state fi­nal and then all state fi­nal­ists go into the na­tional fi­nals. This year 106 peo­ple were awarded.

With­out this fel­low­ship, I could sim­ply not af­ford to do such a trip. It is well be­yond my means. The Churchill Fel­low­ship Trust was started af­ter World War 2 to al­low Aus­tralians to visit and learn from over­seas coun­tries, things they can­not do here but that will be of ben­e­fit to other Aus­tralians.

IM­PROV­ING OUR IM­AGE

Now I have to start work on the ac­tual itin­er­ary and ar­range all those I wish to visit. So far the Aus­tralian Truck­ing As­so­ci­a­tion, Aus­tralasian Col­lege of Road Safety, the Amer­i­can Truck­ing As­so­ci­a­tions, the Road Haulage As­so­ci­a­tion in the UK, and a num­ber of oth­ers here have of­fered help and ad­vice, ei­ther for con­tacts and/or sug­ges­tions.

In the US, there is a pro­gram called ‘Truck­ing Moves Amer­ica For­ward’ (TMAF) run by the Amer­i­can Truck­ing As­so­ci­a­tions that I have been watch­ing for some time. They have over 100 trail­ers wrapped with their mes­sage, have done videos, and are aim­ing to im­prove how truck­ing is seen and ap­pre­ci­ated by the pub­lic. I would like to see some­thing sim­i­lar done here but, of course, it would be on a smaller scale.

Truck rest ar­eas, hours of ser­vice reg­u­la­tions plus roads and in­dus­try cam­paigns will be of in­ter­est. Some of those I speak with may be in­ter­ested in what we do here.

The days of Aussie driv­ers be­ing hood­winked into dud jobs in the US ap­pears to be long over. Some of the sto­ries I have read of the in­dus­try there are in­ter­est­ing to say the least. I have just fin­ished read­ing Driver: Six Weeks in an Eigh­teen Wheeler by Phillip Wil­son. It shows some of the good and some of the bad of the in­dus­try in the US.

An ar­ti­cle in Owner//Driver’s stable­mate pub­li­ca­tion ATN re­cently spoke of the sup­posed driver short­age in the US, say­ing it is re­ally a pay short­age. De­pend­ing on what you read and where, there are up to 40,000 un­filled jobs now, while some fleets have a turnover rate near­ing 100 per cent.

The rea­sons of why we have a short­age here are the same. Driv­ers are get­ting older, younger peo­ple are not want­ing to marry a truck and live that life for years, and eas­ier jobs are pro­vid­ing bet­ter pay and life­style – mi­nus the mo­torists try­ing to kill you each day and the road au­thor­ity of­fi­cers want­ing to take a week’s pay off you for be­ing 10 min­utes over time. Why would any­one think we have a short­age?

VANNERS’ ED­U­CA­TION

Now let’s talk about car­a­vans. Some of you who fol­low so­cial me­dia may have seen a VicRoads and Victoria Po­lice event be­ing pro­moted on Jan­uary 4 and 5 this year. Held at Newmerella, 5km west of Or­bost on the Princes High­way, it was touted as tar­get­ing big­ger trail­ers and vans. How­ever, this event was aimed at ed­u­ca­tion, not en­force­ment, al­though some vanners were is­sued in­fringe­ments for not hav­ing suit­able mir­rors.

I have read some of the com­ments on how it panned out. Im­por­tantly, most vans were right on their weight limit or over; those in­volved were sur­prised at both the num­ber of over­weight camper trail­ers and that some car­a­van own­ers drove many kilo­me­tres out of their way to at­tend and have their rigs checked.

I have tried un­suc­cess­fully so far to have a sim­i­lar event in Dubbo, but this might start the ball rolling else­where.

There were three dif­fer­ent car­a­van groups in at­ten­dance at Newmerella, all want­ing to watch, learn and re­port. Over­all, the con­sen­sus was that it was a worth­while and well-run event.

Let us hope more can be done to help those with vans be safer on the road to the ben­e­fit of all.

ROD HAN­NIFEY

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