Talking Turkey About Trucking

The lowest of the low

Trucking takes plenty of disparaging and deprecating comment from many quarters and people working in the industry are constantly reminded just how low their status is in Australian society. However, this week started out with the humble truckie being taken to a new low, being compared to a child molesting Catholic priest.

 

In talking to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Cardinal Pell came out with some outrageous slurs on the truckie. He was using the relationship between a truck driver and the truck owner as a comparable one to the relationship between himself, as a leader in the Catholic Church, and priests responsible for abusing children.

 

Not only is this preposterous, but also reinforcing the negative attitude truck drivers meet in many areas of their lives. The horrific stories coming out of the Catholic Church and its inaction when confronted with the facts of child abuse are, rightly, high on the agenda for Australia. However, the issue, along with Pell’s appalling analogy is not the main concern of Diesel News.

 

Our concern is, however, for the standing of the trucking community in the wider community. The news here is not good. A lone voice, that of ATA Chair Noelene Watson was the only one reacting to the slur from the truckie’s point of view. The rest of the mountain of criticism heaped on Pell was from the point of view of the anti-abuse campaigners.

 

The incident does illustrate a symptom of a long term problem, which the trucking industry has consistently failed to grapple with satisfactorily. The general public have a very low opinion of those working in trucking and the media reflect this, in the way news about trucks and trucking is reported.

 

If there is any news or comment around trucking in the national media it is inevitably negative and demeaning. There is no good news coming out of the trucking game, apparently. A selection of the news stories going around this week include a Bossley Park man driving a seriously defective truck loaded with Barramundi and Acacia Ridge residents wanting the rego details of B-doubles breaking a truck curfew in Southern Brisbane.

 

We don’t help ourselves and the small but well meaning events organised for Truck Week next week are unlikely to change many hearts and minds. Yes, we should go out and support these well meant events, which serve to bring the community and trucking people together. However, if we want to make a real change in the way the industry is perceived by the wider community, we need to make sure our house is in order.

 

Cardinal Pell has a very low level of credibility because he refuses to accept the wrongdoing of a large number of Catholic priests. If we want to get more credibility than him, we need to publicly accept there are wrongdoers in our community. There are elements in the trucking community who bring shame on us all, naming and shaming them, bringing some deep long term problems out into the light, is the only way to change perceptions of the trucking industry.

Ravaglioli Commercial Vehicle Wireless Mobile Column Lifts

Encouraging young technicians

The upcoming Technical and Maintenance Conference in Melbourne is providing workshops with an opportunity to reward and inspire young technicians in the workforce with the Cummins Workshop Scholarship. Read more

ATA stalwart to retire

A long term campaigner for the trucking industry, working hard in the corridors of power to get a fair go for road transport in the development of regulations and new technologies has retired due to an extended illness. David Coonan has served trucking for many years as Policy Manager for the Australian Trucking Association, in fact, since 2006.

 

The former diesel mechanic worked his way up through fleet management for the ACT government to positions in both the ACT and Federal governments as a senior transport policy officer.

 

“David had an expert understanding of government process and regulation, and he was able to back it up with a detailed knowledge about how trucks and engines work,” said ATA CEO, Stuart St Clair. “For example, he could be heard in the office discussing with regulators the pin voltages on electronic brake connectors, before switching to a teleconference about truck charging.

 

“David’s major achievements at the ATA included his role in working through more than a thousand issues with the original draft of the Heavy Vehicle National Law. The law isn’t perfect, but it’s much better than it would have been if David hadn’t been involved. He was a strong advocate for the industry on heavy vehicle charging. After years of discussion, the ATA finally convinced transport ministers to review the existing charging system. As a result, the NTC concluded that the existing system would overcharge the truck and bus industries by $232 million in 2014-15.”

 

Coonan was also heavily involved in the campaign to get more high productivity vehicles on the road, working on the truck impact chart, developed with Bob Woodward, it is now a standard reference.

 

One of the main things the industry will miss is David’s passion. Many times he could be heard disapproving of comments being made on the dais at conferences, before standing up and giving chapter and verse on what was wrong with the speaker’s position. He was unwavering in his support for the trucking industry and aware of the problems rules and regulations make for the everyday working of a trucking operation.

Terry Nolan, trucking industry icon

Today, the passing of Terry Nolan has been announced. Terry, and his wife Daph, were instrumental in many developments in the trucking industry, over the years, as the owners of Nolans Interstate Transport. Read more

He’s a trucking hero!

The inaugural Bridgestone Bandag Highway Guardian award has been officially handed to Brad Morrison in a small ceremony at the Australian Trucking Association stand at the International Truck, Trailer and Equipment Show in Melbourne, today.

 

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On November 14 last year, Brad Morrison came upon the scene of a tragic accident on the Cunningham Highway near Aratula in Queensland which had left a young mother unconscious and both her and her baby trapped in a burning car.

 

Brad was able to get through the flames, smoke and fuel surrounding the scene to rescue the 10 month old girl from the back seat. An explosion occurred shortly afterwards. Sadly, the mother could not be rescued.

 

The Bridgestone Bandag Highway Guardian award has been created to honour great community service performed by professional truck drivers who go above and beyond the call of duty to assist those around them during the course of their normal work.

 

“I was just past Cunningham’s Gap on the way into Brisbane, I do that run quite a lot, when I got a call over the UHF radio that a truck had gone into the bushes,” said Brad. “I slowed down and came round the bend, expecting to see him just run off the road, and saw a big crash instead, the truck was jack knifed and there was a little car, all on fire.

 

“There was diesel all around from the truck. The crash must have ruptured the main tank, I reckon he’d only just filled up, so there was probably about fifteen hundred litres spilling around. I pulled up and jumped out as quick as I could to see if there was anything I could do to help. As I came up around the back on the little car, I could hear a baby crying.

 

“I just had to get in there, I had to get the baby out.”

 

In presenting the award, Andrew Moffatt, Managing Director of Bridgestone, talked of Brad’s bravery in the face of extreme danger talking volumes for both Brad and the trucking community in general.

 

“While we would like to extend our greatest sympathies to the family, Brad’s quick thinking and decisive action enabled him to save the child at great risk to his own life,” said Noelene Watson. “For these reasons, it is our great pleasure to present Brad with the first Bridgestone Bandag Highway Guardian award.”

Talking Turkey About Trucking

Is the trucking industry ready for new challenges?

Unfortunately, working in the trucking industry, we are destined to always be living in ‘interesting times’. There has never been a time in living memory when people involved in road transport haven’t been lurching from one potential crisis to the next. It’s in the industry’s DNA, the tendency to wait until a problem gets big enough to take drastic action to solve the issue. It’s a bit like the way many of the more traditional truckies run their business. Read more

Noelene Watson is new Chair of ATA

The Australian Trucking Association has elected a new Chair, Noelene Watson, who is the managing Director of refrigerated transport operator, Don Watson Transport. She takes over from David Simon, who steps down after four years in the role. Read more

Trucking Industry Awards Nominations

ATA Awards nominations open

The trucking industry has until April 28 to get in their nominations for the Australian Trucking Association’s National Trucking Industry Awards. They will be presented at the annual ATA Convention, to be held on Hamilton Island during the first week of June.

 

The idea of giving awards to people working in the industry does give their peers an opportunity to show appreciation for work well done. Many who have given all of their lives to the trucking world do put a lot extra into the job and try to make the trucking world a better place. Now’s your chance to give thanks for those who go that extra mile.

 

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The Outstanding Contribution to the Australian Trucking Industry Award is presented to an individual or organisation showing commitment to improving the trucking industry through their operation or contribution to industry activities.

 

The National Trucking Industry Woman of the Year Award recognises the strong professional contribution made by a woman within the trucking industry. The National Professional Driver of the Year Award sponsors is seeking a driver whose outstanding performance, including driving skill and attitude have made a contribution to industry improvement.

 

The National Training Excellence Award Award encourages businesses to use and develop effective programs to minimise risk for their workforce. The judges reward excellence in a different safety category each year. In 2014, the focus is on the issue of truck rollover prevention and appropriate speed for the conditions.

 

The Don Watson Memorial Award is presented to a person who has given conspicuous service to the Australian trucking industry. The winner is selected from a range of exceptional people who do not need to nominate to be considered.

 

The TruckSafe John Kelly Memorial Award Award recognises a TruckSafe accredited operator which has implemented and promoted the program in an exceptional fashion and fosters a strong culture of safety in every part of their business.

Simon calls for extension of COR

In response to the Four Corners TV investigation into the trucking industry ATA Chairman, David Simon, is calling for trucking business directors and executives to be held accountable for truck maintenance in the same way they are liable to chain of responsibility prosecution over fatigue and speeding offences.

 

“In tough times, it is easy for business executives to cut back on maintenance spending in the belief that it won’t affect safety, for a while,” said Simon. “There are special road transport laws, called the chain of responsibility laws, that impose safety obligations on businesses, company directors and executives. They only apply to speed management, fatigue, vehicle mass, vehicle dimensions and load restraint. They don’t apply to maintenance.

 

“The ATA and its members have called on governments to extend the chain of responsibility concept to vehicle maintenance. This would compel businesses and executives to take reasonable steps to ensure that trucks are maintained properly; for example, by ensuring that maintenance staff have adequate budgets, resources and training.”

 

Simon also wants the Federal Government to get the Australian Transport Safety Board involved by spending an extra $4.3 million to create a database of coronial recommendations. He sees this as the first step to seeing the ATSB taking a role in investigating serious truck crashes.

 

“The ATSB is known for its expertise in transport safety investigation, and is currently responsible for investigating aviation, marine and some rail accidents. The ATSB needs to be able to apply its expertise and insights to serious truck crashes as well,” said Simon.

 

These words come as one of the trucking operations highlighted by the TV program, Blenners, has seen charges laid against four of its employees over alleged fatigue breaches. The other featured operation, Cootes, is still under investigation over the Mona Vale crash last October.

 

The response from Simon echoes his initial call for these reforms at last year’s ATA Technical and Maintenance back in October. Clearly, the analysis of the situation at the time drove the ATA to try and pre-empt the result of any investigations into maintenance regimes and they are hoping the government responses to any outcry following the recent reports will take this route.

ATA joins Canberra Convoy for Cancer

This weekend’s upcoming Canberra Convoy for Cancer Families will feature the Australian Trucking Association’s Safety Truck, its travelling road safety exhibition. The convoy, on Sunday February 2, is expected to include 400 trucks and 120 bikes driving across Canberra. The destination is a free community festival with children’s rides and amusements, food stalls and music.

 

Last year’s Canberra Convoy for cancer Families raised just over $107,000. This year’s event runs from 11:30am to 4pm, and will feature live performances from Alex Gibson (The Voice Australia 2013) as well as Counterfeit Cash and Night Train. The vehicles involved in the convoy will also be on display, as will the ATA Safety Truck.

 

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“With a kid’s pedal car track, road safety apps, a colouring tent and animated videos, we have heaps of fun things to do, and you’ll get some important road safety tips too,” said ATA Corporate Relations Manager, Steve Power. “Many of our younger drivers just aren’t taught how to share the road safely with heavy vehicles. The Safety Truck is all about getting these driving tips out to everyone in the community, from children through to experienced drivers.

 

“We’re delighted to support the Canberra Convoy for Cancer Families, and we’ll do our part this Sunday to help the 2014 event beat the $107,000 raised by the 2013 convoy.”

 

Funds raised by the convoy will be donated to the ACT Eden Monaro’s Cancer Support Group, providing financial assistance tocancer patients within the ACT, Queanbeyan and surrounds. More information is available at the Canberra Convoy website or on Facebook.

 

The Convoy will depart from Copper Crescent in Beard at 10am. Recommended viewing points for the convoy include the pedestrian foot bridge over Parkes Way next to the Civic Pool and the large paddocks on either side of Flemington Road.