Perennial trucking industry advocate and campaigner, Rod Hannifey, is behind an initiative to get a National Truck Rest Area Strategy now. According to Rod there is no time to lose as the provision of rest areas deteriorates rather than improves.
“It seems every day, we lose one more space or spot to stop and rest in a truck,” said Rod. “Yes, we have some new rest areas and we are thankful and appreciative of them, but they are still so far behind what is needed in capacity for trucks, let alone for cars and the growing number of caravans and motorhomes etc.”
A recent study showed not only that not one of our major highways, met the minimum number of truck rest areas spaces deemed necessary, but they were thousands short. So many sites have been closed due to perceived safety reasons, instead of fixing them, they get closed, the authorities choose to close them. Road realignments see more spaces disappear.
“I have made suggestions, contacted road authorities more than just once when such work is undertaken and been completely ignored,” said Rod. “Yet the biggest omission currently, must be the lack of a designated changeover facility on the Pacific Highway. We waited 30 plus years for one on the Hume and drivers died waiting and we have a similar situation now on the Pacific.
“It was never safe doing changeovers at Clybucca, yet we now have a fantastic four lane highway bypassing most towns with nowhere to swap trailers safely. Who do we hold liable for the death of the next driver? The road authorities have been told, so are they guilty? I think so.”
Many local councils or businesses do not want trucks parking in their area and act accordingly. Major capital cities also increase parking restrictions. Rod reckons getting access to a supermarket or shop for food and supplies on the road is virtually impossible in a B-double, even worse finding a chemist or doctor?
“We now have design guidelines for truck rest areas and informal green reflector informal bays, but we need more and we need them with shade and toilets and we need them now, to allow us to safely manage our fatigue on the road,” says Rod. “We do not want to drive when tired, but need good places, for decent sleep. You can’t leave your dog in the car in the heat, yet many of us sleep in such conditions.
“If we could get some serious discussion in place with road authorities about using some suitable and agreed stockpile sites for informal truck rest areas, we could solve the current truck rest area inadequacy problem within a month in some places. Many have excellent useable shade, something missing in the vast majority of truck rest areas.
“If we had a national truck rest area strategy that had some driver input to placement and design, that meant not one spot was closed without consultation and or replacement, then we will at the very least, stop going backwards. New roads and realignments must be looked at with truck rest areas in mind, possibly using the old road for some rest areas, instead of wasting money ripping up what could be nearly free sites.”