Find­ing your voice

Ra­dio pro­grams, espe­cially those with a nod to­wards the truck­ing in­dus­try, have proven in­valu­able for overnight long-haul driv­ers to have their say. Rod Han­nifey writes

Owner Driver - - News -

HOW MANY of you still lis­ten to the ra­dio? Have you got your own mu­sic? Do you lis­ten to au­dio­books or do you still have favourites on the ra­dio that en­gage you and keep you in­ter­ested?

When I first started on the road I spent most hours lis­ten­ing to state­based evenings on the ABC in NSW or Queens­land. They in­cluded the na­tional shows – Nightlife with Tony Del­roy and the Quiz at mid­night and the early morn­ings, sub­ject to where I was and what I was do­ing.

In those days, early morn­ings had the fun­nies at 3.30am each day and, while many were old Bri­tish shows – Just a Minute, The Goon Show, Round

the Horn and oth­ers – it was good just to know they were com­ing and could rouse you to get through the morn­ing if you had to push on.

Even dur­ing the day the cov­er­age was bet­ter than most, and even now many of the shows such as

Con­ver­sa­tions with Richard Fi­dler in Queens­land and NSW or with Neil in Vic­to­ria still en­gage me at times. I started pod­cast­ing Con­ver­sa­tions at one stage and put them on CDs for a trip to Perth some years ago. I began my ra­dio spots with

ABC Early Morn­ings with Penny John­stone af­ter ring­ing one morn­ing when walk­ing home from drop­ping the truck off for my part­ner at the time. Nat­u­rally it was about trucks and Penny said there may be oth­ers in­ter­ested so I did a spot ev­ery week for the next two years un­til we had a few dif­fer­ent pre­sen­ters who each asked the same ques­tions for three weeks. Hence it died a nat­u­ral death. Af­ter a bit of a break we had Truck

Ra­dio start up in Al­bury and it went for some years and was very well sup­ported by driv­ers. But it got so suc­cess­ful the pre­sen­ters moved on and those that fol­lowed were not as truck keen. One ac­tu­ally nearly put me to sleep and I even rang and made that com­ment. It was sad to lose our show.

Then Rig Ra­dio started in Wagga Wagga and I did a spot there for two years, even oc­ca­sion­ally go­ing to the stu­dio when stuck in Wagga wait­ing for a truck. It was on the community net­work, but even with more than 100 sta­tions, many were small and low powered. It meant that, depend­ing on where you were, you would find your­self be­com­ing in­ter­ested in what was be­ing broad­cast and then you’d be out of range and miss the rest. Un­able to get ma­jor spon­sors, it also died.

Overnight Ex­press fol­lowed, run by the Community Broad­cast­ing As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­tralia it­self, as the boss was a truck fan. But af­ter an­other two years with me do­ing a weekly spot, he left to go back to Eng­land and, with­out a truck keen sup­porter in man­age­ment, it too fin­ished.

I am sure there are still those diehard ABC fans. I still lis­ten from time to time, par­tic­u­larly the Sci­ence show on Ra­dio Na­tional at noon on Satur­days if I’m head­ing home.

Now I have much of my own mu­sic on my son’s old iPod, and I lis­ten to au­dio­books each week. Af­ter be­ing in­vited to be a judge for the Aus­tralian Au­dio­book of the Year and the in­ter­est that gen­er­ated, I started a Face­book page – Au­dio­books For The Road – and in line with that will have some give­aways com­ing from next month.

FA­TIGUE FEED­BACK

How many of you are happy with the cur­rent fa­tigue reg­u­la­tions? For those with set runs and hours, per­haps it is not such a prob­lem. The Na­tional Road Freighters As­so­ci­a­tion (NRFA) has pro­duced a po­si­tion pa­per on fa­tigue and there are a few other things cur­rently around that will give you a chance to con­trib­ute and/or have a say.

The sim­plest one is the Na­tional Heavy Ve­hi­cle Reg­u­la­tor (NHVR) ask­ing for sub­mis­sions on Per­sonal Use of a Fa­tigue-Reg­u­lated Heavy Ve­hi­cle. It has been law in NSW for some time, yet how many of you have heard of it? Sub­mis­sions closed at the end of Septem­ber. The next is a re­view of the Na­tional Road Safety Strat­egy as it has not met its tar­gets thus far.

I will be ask­ing for bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion of car driv­ers, more and bet­ter rest ar­eas, and bet­ter roads. As with all these things, if you do not par­tic­i­pate, noth­ing will change. You can sit back and watch and hope some­one else will do it for you, or you can take part.

The next, and pos­si­bly most im­por­tant, is the up­com­ing fa­tigue re­search. Now, whether you agree or not, I don’t think you, I, or any­one can cur­rently sup­ply de­fin­i­tive data on whether and how well log­books man­age fa­tigue. We can ar­gue they do not man­age our fa­tigue, they man­age us. They are de­signed and po­liced by those who do not have to live by them and we are pun­ished and fined when we do not do things ‘their’ way.

We must have rules, or we would all be pushed un­til we dropped or crashed by those in our so­ci­ety who only care about us mak­ing money for them.

By this I mean com­pa­nies – big and small – and multi­na­tion­als who do not care about peo­ple, let alone truck driv­ers. We can ar­gue that we don’t have enough rest ar­eas and we can ar­gue that these com­pa­nies now tripleshift trucks with their ros­ters to give the ut­most up­time and pro­duc­tiv­ity. But the driv­ers who work three dif­fer­ent shift pat­terns in a week (when it takes your body at least two days to ac­cli­ma­tise to a shift change) do not know what day it is. We could ar­gue that those who did six night runs each week (and who can’t do so legally now) were safer be­cause their life was, at the least, set up for that work. They could well have been safer than some­one who does not have a set run and works and sleeps as they must.

How do we change any of this? Take part, par­tic­i­pate and put your views for­ward. Don’t sit back and wait for some­one else to do it for you.

ROD HAN­NIFEY

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