This wasn’t the way truckie Glyn Castanelli’s 50th birthday week was supposed to pan out.
He’d just picked up a trailer load of ice cream and was heading back to Brisbane from Sydney when his life was turned upside down in a heartbeat.
Without warning, a motorist drifted into his lane on the quite city two-lane street in Bow Bowing and ploughed head-first into his Western Star.
Luckily, there were no fatalities, or life-threatening injuries as a result, but a shaken Castanelli was left gobsmacked by what happened next, and now wants to share his story as a cautionary tale to other truckies.
“I’ve driven four million interstate kilometres and never had an accident,” said Castanelli, who is also the secretary of the National Road Freighters’ Association.
“You don’t realise what actually happens at an accident like that, and it was 200% not my fault.”
Firstly, no one asked him if he was okay as he stood there shaken on the side of the road wearing nothing but his t-shirt, shorts and clutching his mobile phone for support.
Then, when the police arrived, he was questioned, and had every inch of his logbook combed through.
At that moment he was thanking his lucky stars that his book was up to date and he wasn’t in the middle of a seven-hour break as a result of being held up at a loading dock.
“Then it would have been my fault and I’d be going to jail. These blokes running out there off their logbooks should really know that they’re jeopardising not only their livelihoods but their freedom.”
In a thorough cab search at the crash scene, police also focused on a bottle of Champix – tablets to help smokers quit – asking Castanelli if they might have affected his driving.
“I’d given up smoking but have taken it up again after all this.”
Minutes later he was technically under arrest, and bundled off to hospital for a mandatory blood test.
“When I saw coverage of accidents like this I always thought it was the truck driver I saw standing there on the side of the road, but that’s probably the driver behind him. The police have already whisked him off to the hospital.”
After hurriedly arranging a hotel stay in Sydney that night, it wasn’t until the next morning that Castanelli was able to retrieve his belongs from the truck at the towie’s yard.
Meanwhile, he also had to suffer the indignity of the crash being splashed all over 7News, with the report failing to exonerate him on any level.
Senator Glenn Sterle was so incensed by the coverage that he’s now written to Bridget Fair, the CEO of Free TV Australia, asking her to investigate.
“I didn’t feel too bad about the whole thing until I saw that [the TV report],” said Castanelli.
“My first though was, ‘can I sue these bastards?’, that’s now how it happened. They say it was truck vs car, it certainly wasn’t truck vs. car, it was car vs truck and the truck was too big and slow to get out the bloody way.”
With his truck now a write-off from the crash, Castanelli is making ends meet by driving local for a friend in Melbourne.
Now qualified as an auditor – he’s already started doing audits here and there for the NHVR – he seriously doubts that he’ll go back to his interstate role.
“It’s such a hard job to make a livelihood out of it.
“Physically I’m ok, but my life has totally been changed because of that accident. I’m just lucky that I’m trying to brush myself off and do something positive about it.”