Eyes On The Road

March 2010
Goodaye all. Well another month of fun and frivolity on the road. One driver who says I rekindled his passion a bit, another who has simply had enough of fighting the fight and plans to leave, a car driver intent on killing himself, his passengers and me by overtaking on a blind corner and a very successful Road Transport Forum in Dubbo run by NATROAD. Many years ago when I first got involved with associations and conventions and things, John Morris of the Australian Road Train Association invited me to join the ARTA and I became an honorary member, got onto the committee in a Driver Liason Role and continued that through to the recent merger with NATROAD and I am still on the Roadtrain Committee.

John had virtually offered me an industry base, with some moral and in kind support when I took on something, or simply couldn’t find any way to get to an event, or to put forward a drivers view to an inquiry or the like. I was still in the TWU, but being away from a capital city and mostly away on the road, did not pursue nor get any particular help from the union when I started trying to have a say. I sincerely thank John Morris for his help and support over the years.

The ARTA annually had a dinner and auction in Dubbo and this is the first since the merger with NATROAD and was preceded by the Road Transport Forum. The roll up from both the political spectrum and Road Authorities, RTA, NTC and Police was impressive and shows that when we can provide a venue and a chance to discuss issues, we can get these people to attend, talk and hopefully to listen and even more hopefully, to then act.

Mr Barry O’Farrell, the Leader of the NSW Liberals and Leader of the Opposition and also Mr Duncan Gay, the Opposition Industry and Acting Transport representative both travelled to Dubbo and took a short ride in the TIV before then attending the Forum. Mr O’Farrell, agreeing this was only a too short trip and that he will make every effort towards a longer one, in doing a TV interview after the trip made a commitment to, if in Government, having the Police Minister, Transport Minister and Road Authority heads spend 24 hours in a truck.

I believe this alone was worth my efforts in attending and participating and I commented I would hold Mr O’Farrell to this and during his address to the forum, he commented on the TIV trip and reiterated his commitment. I have since emailed and thanked him for his attendance, comments and commitment.

I also met with the NSW Transport Minister, Mr David Borger and he was quite prepared to go for a short trip as well, but as I had just reverse parked the TIV b-double in front of the Dubbo RSL for the remainder of the forum and wanted him to agree to a longer trip than around the block, we have agreed to set this up for the near future. I made all of those mentioned above aware of a bump (or two or three) north of Moree, the worst of which is showing a 2G impact on the INS-COM road profiling gear fitted to the TIV.

For simplicity, we are allowed 6 tonne on the steer, knocked off as being overweight at 6300kgs, which is only 3150kg per tyre and this bump is putting 6 TONNES per steer tyre impact. I stopped and took photos last week and note some trucks seem to have bottomed out and that it does not look that bad. This only highlights the difficulties we face in getting roads fixed and up to a standard that does not damage our trucks, us and or impact back into the road causing the damage we are blamed for, but that is caused by a road failure that like all of them, will only get worse until it is fixed.

As soon as I can get the GPS location and graph from Tramanco for these savage and dangerous road failures, I will be emailing them and the photos to all concerned. In discussing this on the road, I can again only ask drivers, if you hit a really bad bump, don’t whinge to the driver behind you, ring the road authority. NSW – 131700, Victoria – 131170 and Brisbane, Gold and Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba only so far in Qld, 131940.

DO NOT RING UP AND ABUSE THE PERSON ON THE PHONE, ring and explain you are a driver and wish to report a road hazard which you believe to be a danger to trucks, explain the problem, tell them you are making a note of the call and that you want a response. If one driver rings, it may get done in a month (some still take a lot longer, the grid at Captains Mountain, the dip in the floodway before Kiga Bore and just north of Gurley all took me two years), but if ten or more drivers ring, under the road authorities duty of care and having been informed of the problem, I guarantee you things will happen much quicker.

Congratulations to NATROAD and the Roadtrain Committee for the Road Transport Forum and Dinner. As I have said before, if you take on a fight on your own, you will be on your own whether you win or lose, but if you are part of a group, you are more likely to get a positive result and or to help others who may have suffered the same problem, focus the issue towards a better outcome.

Another driver recently told me over the UHF he had joined NATROAD following one of my columns asking people to be a member of an association and or union and was pleased with the support, efforts and deals available to members. You must decide who best will represent you, but on your own, it can be harder, more frustrating and less likely to be satisfactorily resolved. Members make an association, associations do not make members. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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