It has been a long time coming but we seem to be seeing the drip, drip, drip of progress coming to fruition around the country. Every month there is one small improvement in the way the trucking industry is regulated, or in the access to high productivity vehicles, or in the commonality of the rules for truckies travelling from one state to the other.
Sometimes it seems like we are the proverbial frog sitting in a saucepan on a hotplate. The atmosphere around us is changing but the progress is so glacial, we don’t notice. One day the temperature in our particular pot is going to get so warm we can’t help but notice, but probably not any time soon.
A few small changes occurred this week, with the revised road train notice coming out as well as more oversize permits now being available via the portal at the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator. There were also some small sensible decisions on rear marker plates and online fatigue training.
This is not big picture stuff, this is little picture stuff, but it all helps. Each of these small changes in the way the industry has to go about its business is an incremental improvement on what went on before.
It is a good exercise to take ourselves back to the early noughties and before any of these changes took place. I can remember interviewing the early NHVR set up team and being asked for my feedback. I told them I didn’t expect the NHVR to be a really fantastic creation, but it would, at least, be a damn sight better than the situation which pertained at the time.
Many years later, this is the situation. It’s still hard out on the road and there are still the most infuriating and frustrating anomalies and contradictions in the law, seemingly just put there to confuse the issue.
The reality of getting road managers to allow access for anything out of the ordinary is still a long running epic adventure, but inch by inch, literally, the industry can get better trucks on the roads where they are needed.
Integrating the enforcement of the major states under one umbrella is probably the most obvious piece of progress and something which would have been laughed at just ten years ago.
Yes, it has been a long time, but we should, every now and then take an historic perspective and give the current climate something to be compared to.
The issues which led to the Razorback protest seem unbelievable from the current perspective. How did anyone put up with it?
The blockade at Yass in the late eighties was asking for things we have taken for granted for many years.
Getting pinged for being a few millimetres over length on the bull bar on a 25 metre B-double has just about gone. It all fits into 26 metres quite well and if we want more we just go down the PBS route.
The drip, drip, drip of progress? Yes. Slow? Yes. Heading in the right direction? Absolutely.