En route to the brink

Long-haul driv­ers are be­ing pres­sured, both emo­tion­ally and fi­nan­cially, to the point of no re­turn. 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

ELEC­TRONIC WORK di­aries are com­ing. They are manda­tory in the US from De­cem­ber this year and I see all man­ner of peo­ple telling us here how they will im­prove road safety.

These peo­ple will, of course, never be mon­i­tored by such de­vices them­selves as they are not truck driv­ers. It is the ageold prob­lem of some­one telling some­one else how to do a job bet­ter, even though they could not or would not do it them­selves.

Telem­at­ics providers sell all this stuff now and many com­pa­nies use it. Yes, they do pro­vide the same or sim­i­lar level of scru­tiny, but are of­ten mon­i­tored by the com­pany, many of whom have ei­ther come through trucks, or at least un­der­stand some of the is­sues, or sim­ply have some em­pa­thy for their em­ployed driv­ers. It’s true, though, that not all com­pa­nies, bosses and/or driv­ers are the same.

There is the ar­gu­ment from some com­pa­nies that driv­ers will cheat them and we sim­ply can­not pay an hourly rate be­cause the driv­ers will daw­dle and take longer, there­fore cost­ing them more money.

I see all this as hav­ing one aim – to mi­cro­man­age driv­ers down to the ‘nth’ de­gree. Some driv­ers need to be man­aged, I agree, but nowhere have I seen or read that driv­ers who al­ready do the right thing will be in any way re­warded for their ef­forts.

So if we are to treat and pay good, skilled driv­ers the same as the walk-in-off-the-street un­trained driver, good or pos­si­bly bad (they will only find out af­ter it has cost them a mint), what in­cen­tive is there for do­ing the right thing?

Per­sonal pride on a job well done is nice, but it won’t feed the fam­ily and pay the bills. If you are go­ing to be mon­i­tored so you can’t take a two-minute de­tour to get a bet­ter meal or ac­cess the nearly nonex­is­tent shade you might crave on a hot day, then why should you try your best for the com­pany?

Are we really try­ing to cre­ate peo­ple who are ‘just driv­ers’? I think that is the way it is go­ing.

MICROMANAGED

The au­thor­i­ties have been sold the line that if you can mi­cro­man­age driv­ers all the time, there will be no crashes. What a load of rot. What about the crashes the truck driver is not re­spon­si­ble for? What is be­ing done about that for our safety? Nearly noth­ing.

Let’s have more Safe-T-Cams so we can force driv­ers to drive when tired and sleep when fit. When the au­ton­o­mous trucks do come, they will work well with such a sys­tem. But we are hu­mans; a seem­ingly some­times for­got­ten fact – and each of us is dif­fer­ent.

How many of you have met a driver who says “I go to work to drive tired and have a crash” or “I go to work to break the law and earn huge fines so my fam­ily will go hun­gry”?

How many of those who con­trol the laws and penalties for our in­dus­try have done the job? Yet they will all tell us how to do it, when to sleep, and when to drive.

Don’t worry about no rest ar­eas, no shade and no toi­lets. Mean­while they have these fa­cil­i­ties on ev­ery floor or out­side ev­ery of­fice.

How do we fight such overzeal­ous reg­u­la­tion even when we must truly hope the in­ten­tion is to have safer roads?

Why are mo­torists still not taught to share the road with trucks when over 70 per cent of fa­tal crashes be­tween cars and trucks are the fault of the car?

BLACK DOG

There is yet an­other as too of­ten over­looked side of this, and that is the pres­sure driv­ers op­er­ate un­der on the roads to­day. Truck driv­ers face it more than any other group.

We drive big­ger ve­hi­cles, some­one ex­pects the freight de­liv­ered, some­one else wants to make a profit (there are likely a few more up the chain that do lit­tle to earn it) and some­one else wants it done their way un­der their rules.

How­ever, no one wants to sup­ply the fa­cil­i­ties we need and the ed­u­ca­tion mo­torists need to help us be safe.

This can lead to driv­ers hav­ing no one to turn to. They be­come es­tranged from their fam­i­lies and, yes, they have mates on the road, but it’s not the same.

They spend very lit­tle time with their loved ones, so who do they turn to for help when it all turns to crap?

I rang two mates for a new year catch up and both told me they had gone through a mar­riage breakup, though in dif­fer­ent cir­cum­stances. Both had se­ri­ously con­sid­ered tak­ing their own lives but for the love of their chil­dren.

All of us feel the pres­sures of ev­ery­day life – ev­ery­one does one way or an­other.

But we, as long- haul driv­ers, tend to be on the fringe of ev­ery­thing – groups, friends, clubs and even in­dus­try as­so­ci­a­tions, let alone our own fam­i­lies.

On speak­ing to both these blokes, I asked if they sought help. Nei­ther had, and yet both knew of Trans- Help.

Thank good­ness they got past the worst on their own, but oth­ers of­ten won’t for a num­ber of rea­sons.

Who is there for such blokes, who really cares what hap­pens to them, and what can we do about it?

Have you been down this road and sur­vived? Who helped you and, from your ex­pe­ri­ence, is there a way to help oth­ers be­fore they get that far down the path that they may go all the way?

If you have an an­swer or sug­ges­tion please of­fer it up, even if only anony­mously to the ed­i­tor, and maybe you can help save an­other driver’s life.

Please think about it and if you are head­ing down that path, for the sake of all you love, get some help. Trans-Help, Life­line, be­yond­blue and oth­ers may be able to help.

“I go to work to break the law and earn huge fines”

ROD HAN­NIFEY

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