It is essential that we don’t park the parking issue for trucks in Australia. The issue of truck drivers being able to find somewhere decent to park their truck and get a proper rest is of the utmost importance and feeds into many of the other issues which are causing issues for trucking’s relationship with wider society.
I have just come across the subject, buried at recommendation number 15 in the Australian Trucking Association’s submission to the Inquiry into the National Road Safety Strategy. Finding it as I rushed through the document was a bit like trying to find somewhere to park a B-double on a major highway at night.
Driving along at 100 km/h, in need of some rest, with two trailers in tow and then seeing a small gap where the truck might fit. Too late, there is no time to brake and so we have to drive on to the next one and hope for the best. This is a typical scenario which plays out every night on our highways.
Tired drivers in search of a good spot to park up then have to compromise and park in less than ideal circumstances, and often illegal ones. Sleep gets disturbed by trucks passing too close at speed, or trucks come and go all night, some with fridge motors roaring, a normal scenario.
There are rules about the amount of truck parking there should be on Australian highways which are neglected almost universally. There is very little prospect of anything being done about it. In the flurry of media activity surrounding the series of truck related accidents earlier this year, a few trucking advocates brought up the subject, but all were roundly ignored by the media.
The implications for fatigue management are obvious. There simply aren’t enough suitable, safe and quiet paces to park a truck. Let’s not even bring up the topic of suitable facilities!
There are other implications for trucking from this issue. Truckies have to find other places to park, bringing them into conflict with caravaners who resent anyone impinging on their quiet 12 hours of rest by the side of the road. There are also local residents who get sick of trucks parking up close to their residential streets, because it’s the only quiet area they can find close to amenities.
It also affects the truck drivers themselves. Society thinks so little of them and cares so little for their safety, it is OK to make truck drivers who are delivering their morning Corn Flakes sleep on a rutted and uneven strip, too close to the fog line, for a short disturbed night’s rest.
What are we saying about our society when one of the professions which makes our economy tick and drives productivity through the economy is marginalised in such a way? Other people working in other industries get an allowance for time away from home, a decent bed for the night and access to shower and toilet facilities, and would refuse to do the work, if this was not the case.
Does Australia need well-trained, well-motivated professionals to work at the front end of the transport supply chains which make our economy work? If the answer is yes, then why aren’t we doing more to ensure the truckies involved are getting enough quality rest and recuperation to keep our roads safe?