Opinion

Finally a fix in sight for rest area problem: new year wish list

I have been trying to see improvements and more truck rest areas now for over 20 years.

A couple of years ago in this newspaper and other publications, I said it was the year of rest areas.

Whilst there have been some minor improvements, we have actually gone backwards, by losing small and minor sites in many places, often closed due to them being deemed ‘unsafe’, but I believe there may some light at the end of the tunnel.

I had written a document, Solving the truck rest area problem and more recently another, seeking a National Rest Area Strategy.

We now have national guidelines for the design, requirements and levels of truck rest areas, but no mandate, legal requirements or even council rules, to ensure they are built or even included in any road building or realignments.

One of the things I put forward was the better use and placement of stockpile sites, which could with little time and money, be a big improvement.

Yes, we want shade (often still at such sites) and toilets etc, but these take time and money and planning, but we could vastly improve suitable spots available at little cost nearly overnight, by utilising more of these sites.

In recent weeks I have been involved with talks with Transport for NSW who has shown a serious effort to improve truck rest areas in that state, Tasmania and Western Australia have seen large funding, industry consultation and welcome improvements, but there is more to do.

There was recently a study done in the US showing fatigue crashes increased where gaps between truck stops were over 35 miles, I think it was, and it is not rocket science to realise that where there are big gaps, there is far more likely to be a problem.

I have just had discussions with the ATA and hope we may have a way forward to see not only more industry effort, but more recognition of the problems and will do all I can to see things improve in 2022.

It will take time, but let’s give it a go. Join an association and contribute, and you too can see this change.

Rod Hannifey is a widely-respected truckie and president of the National Road Freighters Association.

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