Road safety con job

Pro­fes­sional truck driv­ers are con­tin­u­ally forced to make al­lowances for ba­si­cally trained mo­torists while cop­ping more than their fair share of au­thor­i­tar­ian at­ten­tion. writes

Owner Driver - - News -

THE EAST COAST fa­tigue reg­u­la­tions … work­ing or not? They prob­a­bly are if one con­sid­ers how much rev­enue is be­ing raked in thanks to peo­ple like me stuff­ing up.

Last issue I spoke at some length re­gard­ing the lethar­gic ef­forts by the bu­reau­cracy to pro­vide over­size/ over­mass per­mits in rea­son­able time.

My com­ments have been sup­ported by sev­eral oper­a­tors whose busi­nesses in­volve such load­ing. But in­stead of tak­ing the crit­i­cism on board, bu­reau­cracy has in­stead deemed to have been in­sulted.

Sadly, with so much big busi­ness and big bu­reau­cracy and such a low pro­por­tion of en­deav­our stem­ming from small pri­vate en­ter­prise, un­der­stand­ing the ef­forts re­quired to be suc­cess­ful in small busi­ness is like­wise not suf­fi­ciently un­der­stood.

When I raised the issue with a farmer in north Queens­land, he was ro­peable at the re­quired time lapse ex­pected from bu­reau­cracy to ad­dress over­size per­mits. In re­la­tion to cane­har­vest­ing equip­ment, which is self­pro­pelled, it is now be­ing moved con­sid­er­ably longer dis­tances un­der its own steam be­cause the time de­lay for pro­vi­sion of per­mits is ex­ces­sive and penal­ties for move­ment with­out per­mit are con­sid­er­able.

Now we have a sit­u­a­tion with ma­chin­ery on lim­ited reg­is­tra­tion be­ing shifted across ma­jor high­ways – at a snail’s pace.

One issue with road trans­port law and op­er­at­ing re­quire­ments that gets up my nose is the pedan­tic re­quire­ments we truck­ies have to ac­com­mo­date to ful­fil le­gal re­quire­ments with bug­ger all ef­fort by so­ci­ety to ed­u­cate other users in the op­er­at­ing pa­ram­e­ters of heavy ve­hi­cles.

I was some­what per­plexed just re­cently when on the site of a larger than usual cot­ton gin. The fe­male staff mem­ber read me the in­duc­tion riot act. “We have two op­er­at­ing gins on site,” she in­forms me, “so there’ll be two moon bug­gies work­ing in­stead of the usual one.” The speed limit near the gin from mem­ory was 20km/h per hour – pretty slow any­way.

I had just come off the high­way do­ing class-one dan­ger­ous goods at speeds up to 100km/h, mostly shar­ing the road with very ele­men­tary-trained mo­torists. The truckie is the one ex­pected to make al­lowances for the in­com­pe­tence of other road users. This so­ci­ety’s at­ti­tude to road safety is such a farce. It is so much a big con job.

TAR­GET­ING TRUCKS

I have a re­sponse from the di­rec­tor gen­eral of Queens­land’s Trans­port and Main Roads in re­la­tion to the ‘trucks keep left’ re­quire­ment on the M1. The cor­re­spon­dence ends by telling me I can write all I want about the issue from now on but my ef­forts will not be re­warded with any re­ply.

Okay, my issue is not so much that trucks are not to be in the right lane. My issue is a com­bi­na­tion of two points at least. Firstly, if so­ci­ety was to take a ma­ture at­ti­tude to driver dis­ci­pline, there would be no trucks in the right lane any­way; that lane would be oc­cu­pied by light ve­hi­cles trav­el­ling at the max­i­mum speed al­lowed. Again, the cur­rent half-baked ef­fort to free up travel on the M1 sim­ply tar­gets trucks.

When will some­one in bu­reau­cracy take a les­son from pro­fes­sional driv­ers in­stead of us­ing half-baked as­sump­tions to base their reg­u­la­tions? These bu­reau­crats are too stupid to con­sider ad­ver­tis­ing a bench­mark speed in an ef­fort to im­prove traf­fic flow and re­duce the in­ci­dence of traf­fic fric­tion-in­duced ac­ci­dents.

Read­ers may re­mem­ber in an ar­ti­cle some is­sues past that I men­tioned the demise of the B-dou­ble route that is Stan­more Road near Bris­bane.

The re­cent high wa­ter caused con­sid­er­able dam­age to the Alan Wilke Bridge which con­nects Stan­more Rd to Beaudesert-Been­leigh Rd. Alan passed away in the same week that his name­sake bridge was re­opened to traf­fic. That in­ter­sec­tion is an­other bu­reau­cratic balls up, and bu­reau­cracy is de­ter­mined to per­sist with the stu­pid­ity.

The sign­post­ing at the in­ter­sec­tion re­quires that left-turn­ing traf­fic into Stan­more Rd gives way to right­turn­ing traf­fic. The issue is that while I am held at the in­ter­sec­tion in my 45ft taut­liner, I am ob­scur­ing the vis­i­bil­ity of both through traf­fic com­ing from my rear, which is a fair curve to the left for such ap­proach­ing traf­fic, and also hid­ing from the view of right­turn­ing traf­fic the pres­ence on through traf­fic ap­proach­ing from my rear.

Just get rid of the give way signs di­rect­ing left-turn­ing traf­fic to give way. Re­vert to the ‘nor­mal’ of ‘right waits for left’. Not too bloody dif­fi­cult. Or is it that the con­cern is be­ing raised by a dumb bloody truck driver?

Scenic Rim Coun­cil in south-east Queens­land is ob­vi­ously one pub­lic en­tity that has lit­tle re­spect for the small trans­port op­er­a­tor and the nar­row profit mar­gins his­tor­i­cally avail­able to such trans­port op­er­a­tions. The trans­port op­er­a­tor has a 20-hectare ru­ral prop­erty ad­ja­cent to town. Ken Wilkie

The busi­ness has been stor­ing four trucks on the block overnight and dur­ing week­ends. The lo­cal coun­cil, in its greed for funds, has deemed the site to be a trans­port de­pot and ramped up the rates by 84 per cent. More pub­lic greed cou­pled with small to nil ser­vice pro­vi­sion.

It would seem that abus­ing our im­mi­gra­tion reg­u­la­tions can, in fact, be very prof­itable. We are ob­vi­ously the lucky coun­try in the minds of those who have never had to re­late their ef­forts to the amount banked at the end of the week.

Yes, there was per­sonal risk in­volved but their ar­rival was in con­tra­ven­tion to bor­der reg­u­la­tions.

Those who have come through seem to have been re­warded more

“He didn’t fill out the won­drous book”

hand­somely than our peo­ple who pro­vide the es­sen­tial task of driv­ing road trans­port ve­hi­cles.

BIG FINES AND FEES

It was said to me re­cently that a fine should be pro­por­tion­ate to the breach com­mit­ted. A Ter­ri­to­rian op­er­a­tor who’d had 12 hours rest in Bris­bane was breached for not fill­ing out his log­book be­fore de­liv­er­ing his prime mover just three kilo­me­tres to his em­ployer’s de­pot for ser­vic­ing – $640 thank you.

Af­ter his wife made rep­re­sen­ta­tions on the driver’s be­half, they were told to not take any ac­tion un­til fur­ther no­ti­fied. No­ti­fied?

The first no­ti­fi­ca­tion af­ter that ad­vice was a di­rec­tive to at­tend a court sit­ting in Bris­bane. Now the fine will be at the court’s plea­sure, plus the lost work and the cost of fly­ing from and to Dar­win. All that ex­pense for driv­ing a fa­tiguereg­u­lated ve­hi­cle just 3km with­out mak­ing a mark in the book. And the con­stant ad­vice from bu­reau­cracy is to en­list the ser­vices of a learned friend un­der such cir­cum­stances.

The aim ap­par­ently is to re­duce the cost of the fine. One can­not ar­gue that the breach was not com­mit­ted. He didn’t fill out the won­drous book. The im­moral bit is the re­quire­ment that un­der such cir­cum­stances it be filled out in the first place.

The learned friend can only ar­gue for le­niency. Of course learned friend will charge … how much? The fine in this case is def­i­nitely not in pro­por­tion to the of­fence.

I am told that one op­er­a­tor who has de­cided to fight the ac­cu­sa­tion against him in court is be­ing con­fronted with a pri­vate learned friend’s fee of $330 per hour – from the minute the learned friend leaves his of­fice in a ma­jor city to the court ses­sion in a provin­cial city and re­turn to the ma­jor city roost.

One has to be amazed at the lengths taken to trace the Dar­win op­er­a­tor. His cur­rent ad­dress was on the ticket but they found his pre­vi­ous ad­dress and sent the sum­mons there. Lucky the new ten­ant had the real ad­dress and was able to make con­tact.

And what is this I hear about court staff be­ing al­lowed to ad­just court tran­scripts? Now that’s fright­en­ing. But it is in the same vein as en­force­ment staff ad­just­ing in­cor­rectly filled-out breach doc­u­ments.

It is not an op­tion made avail­able to truck driv­ers be­yond the gen­eros­ity of some on-road en­force­ment of­fi­cers.

KEN WILKIE

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