A truckie’s legacy
Whether you’ve had decades of experience behind the wheel or you’re a new kid on the block, we’re all tarred with the same brush – that of a truck driver! Ken Wilkie writes
IT’S THE middle of May and those massive overhead electronic signs above the major routes around Brisbane are announcing World Road Safety Week – ‘join the pledge and slow down’. For years now I have become aware that those in charge of road safety have more influence than competency. No trucks in the right lane is just another example.
I don’t have a lot of ability in any field of endeavour, but my best capability is driving.
I have been doing it professionally (if one gets paid to do an activity one should claim professionalism surely) for more than 50 years.
Over all those kilometres I have experienced many and varied situations. I have never studied political science, nor medicine, nor chemistry or any other highly regarded profession. I am but a truck driver.
By benchmarking with other professional drivers for more than five decades, I now consider I have become reasonably adept in the profession. Better than some but worse than others.
Over the years I have rode or driven trucks, cars, bulldozers, motorcycles and, yes, even bloody pushbikes. Often on multi-lane highways, more often on dual lanes, often on gravel surfaces and even two-wheel drive, two-wheel braked farm tractors on steep grassy paddocks.
I have done my share of the basic means of travel before motorised transport – hoofing it. But in the eyes of so many, such as the Queensland Minister for Main Roads, I am just a truck driver.
In the eyes of bureaucracy in general, those like me who have spent a lifetime with multicombinations in all sorts of operating conditions, we just don’t rate any acknowledgement for our professionalism nor our competency.
In so many of us, and on top of all that experience, lays an attitude that drives us to improve and to be the best we can. But to bureaucracy, both public and private, we will never be anything but ‘just truck drivers’.
I have a severe intolerance for arrogance. That intolerance is enhanced markedly when the arrogance is coupled with conceit and ignorance. I am constantly astounded when people with all such failings seem to find themselves in positions of influence and management.
Join the pledge and slow down: how can someone with enough influence to have such a message promoted, presumably worldwide, be so dumb and ignorant of real road safety parameters?
Driving is speeding. All driving is speeding. The only reason we drive is to get somewhere sooner than we could if we had walked. So how much do we slow down? George might think 5km, Jack 10, and Mary – well who knows? Mary is very timid. She is determined not to have any antisocial mark on her resume. Heaven forbid a fine!
Trevor (read scheduler) has the obligation to maximise kilometres accomplished per hours – within legal time parameters, of course. What all this adds up to is friction in the traffic flow. It adds up to tailgating. It adds up to accidents.
Join the pledge to slow down is such a dumb request. Zero tolerance has already created traffic flow issues on most roads, including the M1 in Queensland. Both hair-brained suggestions have already created such mayhem in the traffic flow to the extent that Queensland pollie Mark Bailey has been forced to show his anti-truck driver bias in his suggestion that restricting trucks from the far right lane as some fairytale way of easing the traffic flow. Plus three demerit points I might add.
No research; just belt the truckie. And business decries its inability to source good drivers. Will it never end? I will be happy when some inflated jerk stands up and utters a heartfelt reverence for the existence and service delivered by ‘just truck drivers’. The associations, to which so many of us give financial sustenance, meekly accept the blithering brain-dead proclamation.
What happened when vacuumbrained jerks in Victoria suggested that the Monash Freeway in Melbourne adopt an unresearched proposal for trucks at a 90km/h limit while the rest of the traffic flow was allowed 100km/h?
I have said it before – trucks in the right lane are a symptom, not the cause. At least I have five decades of experience to support my view.
My first memories of the M1 have it as a winding two-lane road not even up to the worst of the Newell Highway standard. Then some idiot has suggested using the breakdown lane as a means of getting visitors between the two points. How stupid is that? What breakdown lane exists over the Redland Bay Road crossover just for starters? And the numerous slip roads entering the highway? Are we going to have motorcycle cops policing all these entry points to ensure priority for games tourists?
Yes, I am but a truck driver. But how about promoting a benchmark speed limit and advertise what percentage above that benchmark speed will attract a breach.
Make the percentage above an easyto-calculate number and make it such that drivers are not so frightened of going too fast.
Sack a few useless bureaucrats and put the savings into overhead readouts of the speed of the traffic flow. The last place we want individualism is on multi-lane roads.
I am aware that it is becoming fashionable for toadying transport CEOs to have their fleet run at interference speeds, no doubt joining the pledge to slow down. Yes it does save fuel, but at what cost?
Continuing the rant against poorly conceived and irrationally activated ‘safety’ measures: In their determination not to be sued for perceived liability should there be an accident involving ‘just a truck driver’ while having his/her truck loaded, numerous organisations enact a policy that has the driver at least three metres from an operating forklift.
The truck driver is still responsible for on-road load security but denied the opportunity to supervise loading that can impact on that on-road load security. I think there is a double standard here.
BEHIND THE LINE
Next time you are catching a train on any suburban network, check out the security offered to waiting passengers. While it is obvious that train passengers would be more intelligent than truckies, these passengers are provided with a magic yellow line that prevents any accidental contact with a loco entering the station. There is no three-metre rule.
Of course that loco would be slowing down, which is another added safety component, of course.
I just can’t help seeing in my mind some texting teenager bouncing a soccer ball and becoming disoriented and failing to acknowledge the magic yellow line. I wonder how or if the locos observe the 40km/h school zone. I dare say they would. The extra time added by going slower must advance the overtime Brisbane train drivers are renowned for.
Double standards: a truckie can be and often is pinged for exceeding 12 hours in 24 by 15-plus minutes, irrespective of the years of experience and irrespective of time of day. However, those who have influence can roster a driver to do 14 hours overnight in contravention of humanity’s diurnal nature and not have any raised eyebrows in concern. Nor is there any question of irresponsibility because a driver is scheduled to drive outside of humanity’s natural waking time.
Humanity is diurnal (of the day) in nature. Possums are nocturnal (active in the night time). With that new whizbang train line between Brisbane and Melbourne, containers will be at their destination in 24 hours. Methinks another person has engaged his/her mouth before engaging the brain – probably a bureaucrat.