I have been pleasantly surprised by the feedback we have received to a story in the November/December issue of Diesel. Normally, the amount of feedback is relatively low and limited to people annoyed when you get their name wrong or caption them wrongly in a photo.
This time it’s different. The story which got people talking was looking back to the events of 25 years ago and the fall out from the Grafton crash, when the trucking industry was faced with a major crackdown and draconian new rules to improve safety on the highways.
People are talking about what they were doing at the time, how they got involved with the campaign to save the trucking industry they knew and loved. The nostalgia about the late eighties also provoked some thoughts about parallels between then and now. Have we learned our lessons? Could something similar happen again?
There is a certain amount of pride from those involved at the time in the achievements realised in a period where the need to find a solution was so urgent. There is also a perception about how far we have come since those days, but also about how far we still have to go.
One correspondent looked at the difference between the equipment used in the trucking industry back in 1989 compared to the sophistication available to us now. If the trucking industry’s professionalism and community engagement had kept pace with these technical developments, we would be in a much better position than we are now.
The kind of equipment which could be out there on our road would mean lives could be saved every year. The trucking industry is being dragged slowly into the 21st century. There is a suite of safety features available on just about every truck sold in Australia but not many people tick the option boxes for additional safety systems.
Our regulators don’t help much either. Inconsistency and state differences mean we are fighting to be compliant, rather than safe. It is still possible to put a truck and trailer combination out on the road, which is compliant but not safe.
The moral of the story seems to be, it is possible to make and see real change if you put your mind to it. The real improvements made by those pioneers 25 years ago is proof it can be done if you want or need it to happen.
What is also clear about a quarter of a century ago, is the genuine fears people at the time had for the future of the trucking industry. This fear was a considerable spur.
It is possible to effect change and make the world a better place to live in by improving behaviours and equipment in the trucking industry. Progress will be made, one way or another, but it will always be better if it is driven by the trucking industry and not forced on us by a government panicked by some horrific event into being seen to crack down on truckies.