Things seem to be going quite well for the trucking industry, but we must remain vigilant. While progress is being made on many fronts, and although it may sometimes appear glacial, the industry needs to keep its eye on the ball in the next few months.
The political parties are clearly gearing up for the forthcoming election and starting to lay out the battlegrounds where the tit-for-tat name calling and media bites will be targeted in the coming months.
As usual, none of the major parties regard trucking related issues as vote winners ,or even politically important to the important people in their eyes, the voters. Therefore, the most likely role for the trucking industry in the months ahead, will be as a political football to be used or abused by one side or the other, and then kicked into touch to be forgotten.
The issue is how to avoid becoming a political football in the first place. Unfortunately, this will probably depend on luck rather than judgement, and any outcome will be difficult to call. It is in the hands of others not those who advocate for the trucking industry.
We can already see the potential issues appearing on the horizon. The increased fatalities in truck related accidents in the New South Wales last year caused a bit of a kerfuffle earlier in the year and this is likely to get rolled out again for another run in the lead up to the next election.
When these statistics do appear, they will almost inevitably get linked to the reintroduction of an initiative like the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal or something of that ilk. We can be sure any such reappearance will be accompanied by assertions about the trucking industry riding roughshod over safety rules and restrictions.
Trucking will again get the blame for fatalities which are caused, in the main, by people other than those associated with trucking. However, this fact will get completely lost in the fog of other claims and counter-claims.
How do we avoid the raising of all of these old issues in the next year? The answer is, probably, we can’t. What the trucking industry can do is prepare for the inevitable. The groundwork needs to be made now to ensure any attempt to lay the blame for a deterioration in road safety finds another target.
Yet again, the trucking industry will be hamstrung by the same old problem, its inability to get traction with, and fair treatment from, the general media. We are too useful as baddies to be painted in any other way.
We can’t try and remain a small target, we are in people’s minds, on the roads every day and the visibility of our trucks in the cities, especially the older, clunkier and smokier ones, cannot be limited.
There are plenty of positive stories out there about the road transport sector and it is incumbent upon us all to keep the flow of good news getting out there as much as possible, before the inevitable proverbial hits the fan.