A question for the trucking industry, who do you think you are? The answer is, you are not as important as you think. In fact, you are a group of people who should just keep your heads down and don’t bother putting it above the parapet.
A number of news items in the news this week show issues which are of great importance to trucks and trucking being ignored and the issues involved used as an excuse to run others’ agendas.
The first instance comes in the wake of a fantastic initiative by the stakeholders involved in the trucking industry and roads of Australia. As part of the National Local Government Roads and Transport Congress in Toowoomba, an event was held at the city’s show grounds, showcasing trucks involved in the Performance Based Standard scheme.
Organised by the Local Government Association and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, the demonstration saw trucks brought in from around the country to take part in the event. Road managers from all over Australia could watch innovative vehicles strut their stuff around the winding roads of the show grounds.
Operators of the trucks took them off the road in order to let the road managers of Australia see how well they perform on local roads. This is not an easy thing to do, these are working trucks and they need to make a dollar, but their owners are enthusiasts for PBS and are willing to forego revenue to further the cause of high productivity trucks.
Like a similar event held in Bundaberg earlier in the year, this proved useful for both the road managers and the NHVR, in smoothing the way for access decisions allowing the trucks onto new routes.
How was this reported in the local media? We are not talking about one local newspaper, but a swathe of titles owned by the APN Australian Regional Media Network across Queensland and New South Wales. The headline for all their stories was, ‘Monster Trucks Roar Into Town’ and the story began, ‘A demonstration of huge trucks that might never be seen in Toowoomba again’.
A sub-editor somewhere came up with a headline which did not reflect the story being told and also made a positive story about the trucking industry into a negative one. Yet again, the media fed the anti-truck sentiment it has engendered over the years.
At the same time, in NSW, there was a call by trucking industry representatives to end the discrimination against the trucking industry, by NSW, in which the state uses its point-to-point speed cameras to target trucks, but does not use the system to fine, or even warn, cars caught speeding.
This story turned into something else when the Sydney Morning Herald reported the number of fatalities which occurred on the stretches of road covered by these cameras to be 16. As of this point the story became one of getting rid of NSW Roads Minister, Duncan Gay, from the road safety portfolio, leading to the headline, ‘Duncan Gay should be stripped of responsibility for road safety’.
Again, trucks and their drivers are not important, but car drivers and their lives are.