Opinion

The public needs to know what’s going on out here

I am sending this to you since another three truck drivers were killed on my regular route on the Eyre highway, Yalata, SA, on April 4.

I would say that a lot of drivers in the trucking industry are one of the following: 

1. Feel totally unheard by most authorities and politicians.

2. Angry, upset and frustrated with no options but to leave the industry.

3. A minority are oblivious to the dangers and incidents happen.

In the past month I have seen the country go through a lot of road closures for natural events such as fire and flood but due to numerous incidents flowing through the chain such as the east-west rail being unusable for multiple weeks and then flooding in north WA/NT caused the temporary permitting of 53.5m triple road trains on the Eyre Highway to redirect them to Perth increasing the normal traffic across ‘The Paddock’ 10-fold. 

Right in the middle of all of this, there was a bike race, once officially cancelled, from Fremantle Perth to Sydney with bike riders hit along Eyre Highway in two separate incidents six hours and 600km apart, forcing the closure of the highway from Norseman, WA, to Eucla WA/SA border for 15 hours. 

Every closure and every delay puts pressure on freight companies with two-up drivers in trucks, which essentially run 24/7. 

The added pressure means some drivers will not take the necessary breaks and precautions with a massive decrease in driver mental health and awareness putting everyone at risk.

I think the reason there is a need for two-up driving should be brought into question as I have done two-up driving before and only one driver really has the opportunity to get quality sleep, taking into account the ability to block sunlight to sleeping quarters, quality of the roads and suspension (bouncing), being woken by other driver when fuelling or stopping, woken by road enforcement officers and efficiency of climate control of truck. 

Another issue I find disturbing is the licensing structure across the board. 

Did you know that a 19-year-old can simply spend two days training in a HR, pass the test (which isn’t hard) then simply hold that licence (without actually driving  a rigid truck) for one year and come back, spend two days trying in a B-double and pass the test (slightly harder depending on the trainer) and next day at 20- or 21-years-old be driving a triple road train grossing 120 tonnes on a highway, or even a quad train with 160 tonnes or more, or even a 200-plus tonnes, eight-metre wide platform trailer.

When is enough, enough? 

I think the general public and consumers need to know what is going on out here. 

People with kids and grandchildren, etc, are being killed because we, as the consumer, want everything in our hands NOW. 

If the guys who transport the bananas from North Queensland to Perth don’t need to run two-up, why do other mobs that don’t even have perishables? 

Perhaps a permit system where only a truck with perishable (fridge/freezers) can run two-up. NO FREIGHT IS WORTH DYING FOR!

I have three kids and a wife at home waiting for me. I am away on the road regularly for two weeks, or longer, up to five weeks, trying to give them a better life than we had but the way roads and drivers are out here lately I’m starting to question whether I’ll be still out here for much longer. 

I know many old timers who have already pulled the pin and retired.

How’s the economy going to cope when the transport costs associated with all goods sky-rocket because drivers leave in droves? 

Or, are we all happy to see predominantly foreign nationals driving road trains, etc, towards us and hope they have adapted to our roads and style of driving?

  • Do you agree with Nicholas, or have a different view? Email us your letter to the editor here – editor@bigrigs.com.au.

2 Comments

  1. I’ve been saying this for years. How can you put a person from a country where it’s common practice to take stupid risks, sitting with 100s of other people on the roof of a train to get from point A to point B, risks they have been taking all their lives and think that will change the minute the plane lands in Australia.

    I also have watched foreign nationals get a truck licence in Australia, go for a job, and not be able to reverse or unhook a trailer ect. Clearly the only way you can get a license without having these skills is to obtain it illegally ie by paying the cost of the driving course and be given a license without doing the work.

    It’s too easy for anyone to get a truck license but how is it possible to get one without being able to read or write or speak English.

  2. Clearly those issuing the licenses are the issue here. Standards should not be reduced just to increase their revenue at the cost to everyone else.

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