The same old story

Talking Turkey About Trucking

It’s been another bad week for the trucking industry, according to our friends in the media. A selection of stories talking about the trucking industry in the mass media illustrate just how badly the public perception of trucks and trucking is affected by the way they handle stories.

Of course, the other problem is the way certain sections of the road transport industry give the tabloid media ample opportunity to wield the big stick. The fact remains, any article will be reported with a negative slant, with very little time given to the other side of any story.

Our old friends at the Herald Sun and Channel Nine had a field day, having a go at ‘ratbag’ truckies selling drugs on our streets. They are also supposedly selling drugs over the UHF and using ice to handle 16 hour shifts. There is a police spokesperson outlining a problem with people in the transport industry taking drugs and an unnamed (of course) truck driver talking about taking speed and ice to manage long shifts.

“Victoria Police says “ratbag drivers” in charge of driving 60-tonne “weapons” are treating other motorists as potential roadkill and risking the lives of innocent Victorians,” said the Herald Sun.

This was followed by a statement which is designed to make it look like there’s a tsunami of drug taking, “VicRoads has stripped 11,704 heavy vehicle licences from truck drivers for road offences including drugs and speeding.” Taken out of context this number is meaningless!

The report misleads the public by saying truck drivers are not allowed to drive more than 12 hours a day. The ‘fact’ which provoked this report in the first place? 156 truck drivers tested positive for drugs in Victoria last year!

Where are the rest of the facts? How many were tested overall? The Herald Sun told us one in 14 tests was positive, what’s the percentage among car drivers? How many tested positive for speed or ice? Where is the evidence of drug deals being coordinated by truckies over the UHF? Where is the sensible voice of the trucking industry in all of this?

Our other good friends, NSW’s Roads and Maritime Services were also on the trail of a story to make them look tough this week. The story was reported in the Daily Telegraph as Coles facing infringement notices, but also including the name of one of the transport companies caught up in the dawn raid on the DC at Smeaton Grange.

Linfox is the primary contractor for Coles at the DC, but did have the media savvy to get the Telegraph to emphasise no Linfox trucks were breached. However, this did not stop the newspaper from listing the multiple breaches uncovered by the 50 RMS officers involved in the raid.


What did they find?

“We found 13 minor defects, nine load restraint breaches, one major defect, one weight breach, two unregistered vehicles and other issues which were rectified on site before the trucks allowed to move on,” said Peter Wells, RMS Director of Safety and Compliance.

How many trucks were checked? Where were the overseas drivers without proper driving licenses, the excessive hours offences and people ignoring safety regulations which the Telegraph talked about in the opening paragraphs of the story? It clearly doesn’t matter, when kicking the trucking industry, who won’t respond.

Even the, normally, more restrained Fairfax media had a crack, in a story about a push for improved infrastructure and higher mass limits around the Port of Melbourne, as reported in The Age.

“Motorists in Victoria could soon share the roads with trucks carrying bumper loads of more than 85 tonnes, almost 20 per cent heavier than is now permitted on most of the state’s arterial routes,” read the opening paragraph by Adam Carey.

No mention of monster, killer trucks, but the implication is clear. This could well be the only part of the story read by many people, missing the point completely. The rest of the article is a reasoned discussion about improving productivity around the port. Proper salient facts were quoted, as was, former VTA CEO, Neil Chambers, as a representative for the container industry view.

Isn’t about time we got out there and fought for our side of the argument. Trying to stay quiet and remain a small target is not working.