Breaking the ice
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.”