Opinion

Giving more women a foot in the door

Early 2023, the beginnings of a nationwide shift in female heavy vehicle driver recruitment practices will see greater numbers of women move into trucking careers through WiTA’s Foot in the Door initiative.

Each of the 50 initial trainees will undergo a rigorous assessment process to determine individual goals and needs before being placed with RTO’s and employers to embark on individualised training and employment pathways.

Out on the road, these women – like all new drivers – will find themselves in an environment where their colleagues speak a language not taught as a part of contemporary heavy vehicle driver training.

This form of communication – known as truckie-speak – has been passed down and modified by generations of Aussie truckies across the last century with comprehension almost impossible until new drivers are “in-the-know.”

A simplistically complex form of linguistics – strangely random words are strung together into incomprehensible sentences readily understood by drivers!

My first real encounter with this alien language happened somewhere between Port Hedland and the Rio-Tinto town of Wickham transporting oversized accommodation huts under escort when the pilot called me up: “Got a copy Lyndal?”

“Copy,” I replied. “You’ve got two small ones and an Evel Knievel coming down the shute.” Having received no reply, he again repeated – this time with a little more urgency: “Lyndal, you’ve got two small ones and an Evel Knievel coming down the shute!”

For those of you not competent in Aussie truckie-speak – this mystifying gem translated into “Lyndal… two cars and a motorbike are overtaking you!”

As a community road safety service for ALL new drivers, following is a crash course in “Truckie Speak 101” to enable a smoother transition into the rough and tumble of the nation’s truck yards.

First up, you’ll notice truckie-speak relies heavily on ockerisms – blended into cryptic phrases that initially require a level of guesswork to interpret what’s actually being said.

If you hear truckies mention a “blue-light disco,” a “flash-for-cash,” “angry lights, a “double-bubble,” a “Kojak with a kodak” or a “candy-car,” you can be confident police are nearby.

To the uninitiated, truckie-speak is a dialect with seemingly no rules.  A “wobbly” is a caravan, a “wobbly bit” is a trailer and a ‘Wobbly-box” is an accommodation hut. “Woo-backs” are brakes and of course if you “hit the giddy-up” you’ve put your foot down!  The Nullarbor is referred to as “the paddock” so a “paddock runner” is a truckie who drives the Nullarbor!

A smidge or a tad is a universal measurement that can apply to weight, length, height and volume.  “Landing gear” are trailer legs and if a truckie asks you to “drop a set,” you’re being asked to move to the left – drop your left tyres off the side of the road and make room for an oversize load.

If you hear a truckie tell someone he’s “carrying post holes or glider fuel,” then he’s running empty. “Put ya boot into it” has the same meaning as hitting the giddy-up! “Mate, you’re “running dark,” means the truck’s trailer lights aren’t working. Doing a “dollar ten” means doing 110km/h.

“Caniva crack?” “Can I overtake you?” “Up the juice in your radio box.” Turn your radio up” and “Tuck your elbows in.”  “I’m overtaking!” A “seat cover” is a female passenger. “Heavies” are heavy vehicle inspectors and a “centrepede” is a road train.

If a truckie asks you to “find a spot” over the UHF, he’s asking you to pull over. Gogo juice is diesel. Sgoinon? Howyagoin? and sup? are all greetings. Just going for an APC (armpits and crutch) is going for a shower!

Now you know what we’re talking about – we need your help. If you know any women who have truck licences, who due to a lack of experience are finding it difficult to get a start, WiTA is happy to discuss 2023 placements in the organisation’s Commonwealth funded NHVR Foot in the Door program.

On behalf of myself and the board of WiTA, we wish you a safe Christmas and a New Year blessed with the love and warmth of family and friends.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *