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
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.
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.