Break­ing the ice

Owner Driver - - Be­hind The Wheel - Greg Bush

THE ‘COF­FEE WITH A COP’ ini­tia­tive at the BP Maru­lan in De­cem­ber was a pos­i­tive move for road trans­port and po­lice re­la­tions. Set up by the Aus­tralian Truck­ing As­so­ci­a­tion (ATA) and the NSW Po­lice, it fol­lowed up a sim­i­lar ‘get-together’ at Maru­lan in 2017, as well as the BP Eastern Creek and Parkes truck stop ear­lier last year. The idea be­hind it, ac­cord­ing to ATA CEO Ben Maguire, was to pro­mote un­der­stand­ing be­tween truck driv­ers and the po­lice.

The BP Maru­lan South­bound boasts first class facilities for truck driv­ers. How­ever, not all truck stops can be placed in that class. Nor so, the rest stops.

Ad­e­quate lo­ca­tions for truck driv­ers to pull up when they’re out of hours are be­com­ing harder and harder to find. Road up­grades and by­passes of­ten come at the ex­pense of ex­ist­ing pullover ar­eas for trucks, most of which have very lit­tle in the way of facilities.

Still, when it’s time for the driver to pull over, it be­comes a ne­ces­sity or they’re at the mercy of the full force of the law. Not much lee­way given in those cir­cum­stances.

How­ever, last year’s in­tro­duc­tion of changes to Chain of Re­spon­si­bil­ity of­fers hope to driv­ers that perhaps the buck won’t al­ways stop at the per­son be­hind the wheel.

I’m talk­ing about pro­fes­sional driv­ers here, not the mi­nor­ity who unashamedly flout the law, either by de­lib­er­ately ex­ceed­ing hours, driv­ing their own faulty trucks or, the worst case sce­nario, op­er­at­ing a truck while un­der the in­flu­ence of an il­le­gal sub­stance.

While on the sub­ject of drugs, truck driv­ers re­ceive most of the neg­a­tive pub­lic­ity in this de­part­ment. Not so the car driv­ing cul­prits, de­spite them eas­ily out­num­ber­ing truck driv­ers per­cent­age-wise in this il­le­gal pur­suit.

So, get­ting back to the ‘Cof­fee With A Cop’. How many truck driv­ers would be will­ing to sit down and have a ca­sual chat with a po­lice of­fi­cer or some­one from their var­i­ous state road au­thor­i­ties who they view as their neme­sis? Cer­tainly the driv­ers who have rarely, if ever, have been is­sued with an in­fringe­ment. There’s quite a few of those, judg­ing by the Pro­fes­sional Driver of the Year awards held by the var­i­ous state-based road trans­port asso­ciations, as well as the ATA.

Perhaps those who feel they are con­stantly hounded by the law should be mak­ing them­selves avail­able for these type of li­aisons. It may help to change their own neg­a­tive at­ti­tude to­wards the au­thor­i­ties.

Look­ing at it from the other side, the po­lice may come to re­alise that the ma­jor­ity of truck driv­ers simply want to go about their busi­ness, de­liver their freight and ar­rive home safe to their fam­i­lies with­out get­ting pinged a week’s pay, let alone lose their li­cence, just for a mi­nor in­dis­cre­tion.

Hope you all have a great 2019.

“Those who feel they are hounded by the law should make them­selves avail­able.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.