Goodaye all and Happy Fathers Day to all the Dads. I hope you either spent time with and or heard from your children. It is one of the biggest downsides of this job, the life we lead away from our families and then, when we get to see them, we are not needed, because they have learnt to live without us. Many families spend time apart, but there are few jobs that both take us away and then tear our lives apart, from those we love.
I had hoped to catch up with my first boss from over 40 years ago on my last trip. When I rang, he was heading south down the centre and I was heading north up the coast. We thought maybe on the way home for each. He wanted to get home in one day and I had all the Mt Isa freight on and work was waiting for me and the freight to get that driver on his way. We did speak on the phone and wave as we passed each other nearing Dubbo.
In one of the conversations, interrupted by our marvellous phone signal strength issues, he asked how many children I have. When I said seven, he said, “What did you say” and I said, “seven” and he said, “That was what I thought you said, so you must have got home sometimes.” “Yes, my wife used to miss me while I was gone, but now she doesn’t want me there at all.”
It is not that bad, nor is it something that makes me happy for the job I have and the life I lead. We all have choices and sometimes we take a path and it is hard to change it later. Even if I wanted to, I simply can’t take a year off and reskill or get another job or profession. I will be honest, that with the time I have put into TRUCKRIGHT and my road safety hobby, I would also then be walking away from what has kept me sane and focused on not thinking about what I could be doing, with my family.
Now it is too late and I am yet to find the way to make it better. I still have a dream of having a truck and trailer on the road, working part time and doing my road safety with more time for family. But I will retire with little more than the thanks of the few drivers who recognise my efforts. It is not about, woe is me, or that anyone held a gun to my head to put the time in, it is what it is and I will keep trying to find the solution, to find my mentor with lots of money who loves trucks.
I have just sat and watched a movie with my daughter and it has made me a bit thoughtful, maybe even a bit maudlin and I hope you don’t take it too much as a whinge, as simply my thoughts at the moment. I wish I could find a way to solve all the industries problems, my own and my childrens’ as well, but nothing will change if everybody waits for it to happen and does nothing themselves.
I will plan to be more upbeat next week. But wait, there is more.
I have just finished my reply to issue paper 4, of the NTC Heavy Vehicle National Law Review, Safe People and Practises. The following is my last question response.
Question 11: How can the future HVNL nurture a culture that places a high level of importance on safety?
Some of this is covered in the answer above, some of it will depend on the outcome of this review and whether drivers are given the chance to really and truly contribute. We are the ones on the road, we are the ones who have to live the life, from car drivers brake checking us because they have seen a bad crash blamed on trucks on television. We are the ones whose lives are risked by the stupidity of car drivers who will risk our lives and theirs to save 5 seconds on a trip.
In responding to Safe People and Practises, it must be said that even if we prevented every crash where a truck was at fault, we would only make a small impact on the road toll, yet if we prevented every crash involving a truck but caused by a car driver, we would make a big impact. We would save truckies lives, save the lives of many motorists and prevent many more injuries. I am not saying we don’t need to do more, we do and I will acknowledge the NHVR, in now getting behind such efforts to show some of these issues and aiming to educate the public, but it has been there for so long and ignored by all bar a few for years. Rest areas are still insufficient, the number of caravans putting more pressure on these facilities and the ridiculous laws and penalties issued to safe, fit and awake drivers who have managed their fatigue, only to be told, it is not legal, has possibly done more to kill drivers and destroy their lives and families for many years.
I still believe many drivers are still not aware of the review and many others have complained it is too onerous to contribute. I welcome the recent announcement of easy access through the ATA and Big Rigs and hope this will encourage more drivers to contribute. Thank You, Rod Hannifey.
And now, having spent the time to read and write this submission, I had difficulty submitting it through the website. Yes, submissions were due to close Friday, but I have better things to do than fight with a website. I have submitted it direct via email and with only 4 submissions on Safe People and Safe Practises, would you say it has been well received? Not on your life. How much money are we paying for this review and if only 4 people have responded, are we getting value for that money? I don’t think so. Safe travelling, Rod Hannifey.