The device you are reading this on was transported by a truck.
The same applies to the furniture in your home and workplace, the food and drink you consume, the clothes you wear.
In fact, just about every item in your lives was once and probably multiple times transported on a truck.
Yet trucks and truck drivers are routinely vilified by the media and the general public.
How many times after a accident involving a heavy vehicle that the headlines scream Horror Truck Smash! with all the reporting concentrating on the truck and the obligatory “Drivers on drugs” story. Then there are the interviews with politicians saying “Time to get tough on trucks,” and then grabs from the public with stories of trucks tailgating, speeding etc.
What you don’t hear about is that, after the investigation is completed, most of the times it wasn’t the truck driver’s fault, but the fault of the car driver. There is no story about how the Truck Driver (if he survived the crash) is left with the memories and trauma.
The Transport Industry is one of the most regulated and policed in Australia. Drivers must fill out logbooks which are regularly checked by police or transport officers, and in the near future the paper logbooks will be replaced by electronic GPS devices that will be impossible to tamper with.
There is a chain of responsibility that covers everyone involved in scheduling, loading and maintaining the truck, as well as scheduling and managing the drivers.
Yes, there are rogue drivers, as there are rogue operators in any business. But, for the main, the drivers are just hardworking men and women trying to make a living .
Every time a driver leaves to go to work (and I am mainly talking about long distance driving) there is a greater chance of getting injured (or worse, killed) than in any other job in Australia.
Driving a truck is Australia’s most dangerous job.
Trucking accounts for almost one in every three workplace fatalities, despite the fact that less than 2.5% of the population are employed in the industry.
When accidents do occur and it is the driver’s fault, the overwhelming cause is fatigue.
You know straight away when a driver has gone to sleep while driving, as there are no tyre marks on the road, which there would be if a driver saw he was going 100kph straight into a tree or oncoming vehicle
The aftermath is a horrible sight. I have personally witnessed one such crash and lost a good friend because of fatigue.
Drivers hours are regulated, and there are 3 standards:
- Standard Hours (SH): for operators who do not have accreditation for fatigue management
- Basic Fatigue Management (BFM): for operators requiring some flexibility in their work and rest hours
- Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM): for operators who are able to demonstrate accountability for managing fatigue risks.
The rules covering these options can be found here at the National Transport Commission’s web site
The executive summary is below:
- Option #1: SH Standard Hours… up to 12 hours work (This includes loading and unloading as well as driving) in any 24 hour period.
- Option #2: BFM … 14 hrs/24 hr period
- Option #3: THE Coles/Woolworths AFM … up to 16hrs/24 hrs.
As regards Option #3… that is 16 hrs work a day leaving 8 hours for eating and sleeping, most of the time on the side of the road in a cramped sleeper cab.
How can any Government approve these working hours while they endlessly go on about Road Safety?
Coles and Woolies, along with the 2 major transport companies, Toll and Linfox, lobbied hard for these rules, and spent plenty of money to make sure they got through.
**** WHY? ****
The reason was that their distribution was hampered by the 12-14 hr rules. Their major warehouses are in the cities, and they needed the extra hours so they could move groceries to cities further away in one day instead of two, which saves tying up the truck (and paying for it) overnight.
This way, for example, they can send a truck from Brisbane to Rockhampton and back in 1 day then reload it overnight then send it back again the next day, saving considerable time and money.
They have backed up their claim that this is safe with all sorts of reports and studies, but I’d bet if the bean counters sat behind the wheel of a 65 tonne B-Double for 16 hrs a day, they would change their view on whether it was safe or not.
I have spoken to drivers that have do this regularly, and they hate it … but that is part of their job.
Coles and Woolies also put pressure on smaller operators who are delivering goods to their warehouses. They are given a time to be at the warehouse with usually a 15 minute window of grace. If you miss that time-slot for whatever reason you are put to the back of the queue where it is not uncommon for you to be left waiting for up to 12 hours.
The big operators get around this by having drivers stationed at the warehouse just to drive the trucks around the parking bay. The loaded truck arrives, they drop the loaded trailer, pick up a empty one and go while the on station drivers hook them up, drive them into the warehouse then back out and leave them ready for collection. If you are a single or small operator you are stuck, sitting there unpaid and probably losing a return job because you are twiddling your thumbs, queued for hours at their warehouse.
Coles and Woolies justify all this on the same claims that they used with the milk prices etc. See Janice’s excellent post on how dairy farmers have been screwed by the major grocery chains.
They need to keep costs as low as possible so they can deliver cheap groceries to the public. That’s YOU.
Politically, Labor has gone some way to address this with the safe rates legislation and the TWU has been pushing hard to try and keep Coles and Woolies accountable.
While Labor and than TWU have at least been trying to ensure drivers receive a fair wage and to work in safe and fair conditions, the Opposition in general, and the Opposition Leader in particular, engage in cheap political stunts .
Which brings me to the “Tony” part of this post.
Tony Abbott’s much published stunts, showing Tony driving a Nolan’s B-double to the Brisbane Markets in Jan 2012, and then his trip down the Pacific Highway in December 2012, again with Nolan’s, show how Tony Abbott is really just a knockabout bloke.
Or do they?
When Tony Abbott was shown driving that B-Double, it had better have been only in the yard. According to the Murdoch press story:
WHEN not jockeying to become Prime Minister, it appears that Tony Abbott feels at home behind the wheel of a big rig.
Wednesday was the first day that Mr Abbott could legally drive heavy vehicles, having recently upgraded to a “heavy combination” licence.
He had no trouble easing the 42.5 tonne, 540 horsepower truck out of a local truck yard and on the road to Brisbane.
The trouble with the above propaganda is that to drive a B-Double you require a Multi-Combination Licence.
So if Tony did drive that vehicle, even one inch onto a Queensland (or indeed any) public road, he is guilty of a serious traffic offence.
Did he drive it on the road?
Reliable sources tell me that the only time he drove the truck was in the yard at Nolan’s Gatton Depot, for the media’s cameras and scribblers.
As for the trip down the coast, from Nolan’s to Coffs Harbour, reliable sources again tell me that the truck was empty, and was indeed driven by one of Nolan’s managers, and not Tony The Truckie.
All the press you saw of Tony was of him standing outside the truck with his fluoro vest on, slacks and nice collared shirt. NO stubbies and Jackie Howe for this Man Of The People… and I guarantee you that he didn’t sleep in the cab in the truck. My sources again inform me that T-T-T stayed in motels along the way, at taxpayers’ expense.
There was no freight either. The truck was empty.
He also apparently spent a lot of the time in the limo following the truck down the highway. As you would, if you were an imposter.
All this information is from eye witnesses. The media were eye witnesses too, but declined to report the truth.
“No big deal” you might say, and in the Big Scheme of things I guess not, but it is just another example of the lies and deception that this man will spread to fulfill his life-long “destiny” of becoming Prime Minister.
The real Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, is hounded and vilified in the media over everything she says and does, including the ridiculous Slater and Gordon affair, 20 years distant this year.
She can be insulted over the death of her father by a woman-hating bloviator on 2GB (read into the Hansard by Tony Abbott).
She loses a heel and it makes front page news. Even her choice of eyeglasses is mocked.
But the same media lets Tony Abbott get away with all his stunts, because he is the Anointed One, and they will be paid back handsomely when he gets into power and hands over the keys to the NBN, brings in draconian workplace “reforms”, restores their licence to pollute our planet, and whatever other corporate perks and anti-social entitlements they and their media patrons demand.
The story of Tony’s fake “truckie” adventures is an insult to the men and women who really do the hard yards on Australia’s highways (while Tony just drives around the yard), who really do work the long hours and who really do endure the almost impossible demands made on their precious time and family life by Tony’s corporate mates.
I’ve been involved with trucks for over 30 years, owning, driving, managing fleets and running a successful transport business. Trucks are something I know about, inside and out.
These stunts were what convinced me personally that Tony Abbott is no friend to real working people no matter how much he and his mates pretend he is.
Tony Abbott, policy-poor but stunt-rich, is no truckie.
I’d bet there are plenty of others out there with similar stories about this pretender, from their own chosen vocations.
They should come forward before it’s too late.