Fatigue management, Opinion, Roadhouses, Truck driver, Truckies’ health and wellbeing, Work diary

Where are the people paid to look after drivers’ safety?

driver safety

Being ‘SAFE’ is a reasonable expectation of every truck driver when parking at a roadhouse or truck stop.

As a wife/partner of a truckie, we’d also expect that they are ‘safe’ when having their legislated fatigue management break.

‘The Book’, the holiest of holy – well for enforcement at least – tells a driver when they can and can’t travel. Sometimes we can’t travel at the most convenient juncture. Prime example, a driver couldn’t get past the cameras at Boggabilla two nights ago, to get to Goondiwindi with his mates. So, he parked it up at the Shell – safe right?

So what? people may well ask.

Well, now that the driver in the above example received facial injuries after a bashing, the second attack in as many days, and the third we are aware of from the same roadhouse within a few weeks.

If he could have run the gauntlet to Goondiwindi and afford the fine and loss of demerit points, he would of – in the name of safety. Others get paid for their safety initiatives.

The driver attacked last week was transferred to PA Hospital in Brisbane for surgery, according to social media reports.

The same night as the above attack, a man was attacked and items stolen in a motel rampage, according to a local newspaper.

Yet another truck driver was subjected to at least two cars on the highway that appeared to be pressuring him to pull over, with one vehicle brake checking the truck driver. This happened between the camera and Boggabilla township.

The reason for this is unknown, but the driver was concerned for his safety. It’s gotten to the point where drivers just won’t stop to help other motorists is some locations because they just can’t guarantee their own safety to help another person.

On April 27, 2023, a truck driver was attacked at the Shell in Boggabilla. As result, his face has been surgically reconstructed. He was in critical condition when arriving at hospital.

In recent weeks, another reported two incidents.

· Truck driver paid for fuel when a Toyota Kluger tried to run him over when he was walking back to his truck. If it wasn’t for a couple of other truck drivers in the vicinity, the outcome could have been a lot worse; he could well have been ANOTHER statistic of a truck driver bashing, unreported by media and/or the NSW Police Facebook pages.

· Three truck drivers parked up near the Coles at Moree, waiting for the servo to open. All three trucks were broken into, we know one had his wallet stolen but unaware of what was taken from the other trucks.

They don’t seem to discriminate between heavy or light vehicles either. If you’re parked up and trying to manage your fatigue, you are fair game to what appears to be the disenfranchised youth roaming the streets in the wee hours of the morning.

How many drivers don’t report anything due to the time constraints of their run, work/rest requirements (logbook) and/or likelihood of any action being taken against the perpetrators?

The local police seem ill equipped to manage and prevent these attacks, or maybe the legal system lets them down. The police are overworked and underpaid as it is. The legal system seems to just smack that naughty person’s hand and off they toddle again… to the detriment of those just trying to make an honest living.

No sooner they are dealt with, and they are back on the streets reoffending.

Drivers have been trying to contact members of parliament, local council members and the roadhouse owners, where possible. All of this to no avail!

Enforcement and safety – two things the industry pundits and legislation are very strict on where drivers’ behaviour is concerned. Where is it now that the situation has changed, and the truckies need enforcement and safety to get through these troubled areas on the highway?

The scariest thing – OUR truck drivers are talking vigilantism. They will be the ones behind bars for protecting themselves, not the perpetrators. How does that help anyone, apart from drivers not being attacked in their sleep?

Drivers have said that some police have warned them to not stop anywhere between Bellatta and Goondiwindi. Someone, other than the drivers, need to tell the heavy vehicle enforcement bodies of the very real risk to drivers who may be required to stop or travel through these areas of concern.

It’s not just drivers they attack, it’s also the damage to the vehicles and trailers. The cost to the truckies, and the truck owners, is large… and not just financially.

NHVR and the trucking associations, are meant to be there to help with this kind of industry safety issue. Drivers need to utilise them and keep yelling until they listen, and something is done.

What happens to the local businesses that rely on the trucks and their patronage?

What about local jobs? The feeling amongst the locals is “We hate it. We are trying to do something about it, but the courts are letting us down”.

It’s bad enough that the locals, in this corridor, throw rocks at trucks and have done for years now, but bashing a driver in his sleep? This is NOT on… but nor is a desperate response of vigilantism.

It’s truly sad that drivers, and volunteer driver advocates, have to make sure that the drivers are aware of what is happening, to help them avoid becoming another victim. Where are the people paid to look after drivers’ safety?

  • At the time of writing, Big Rigs has not received a response from the NHVR to a question regarding drivers’ safety in Boggabilla and whether they could be allowed to drive through the town to rest in Goondiwindi, if out of hours. The NHVR has, however, since posted this note on its Facebook page: “Following a number of incidents, #NHVR advises truck drivers to be conscious of their personal safety when travelling on routes between Bellata and Goondiwindi. Please contact the police in case of an emergency.”

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