Healthy Heads in Trucks and Sheds, the industry mental health and wellbeing organisation, has commissioned leading supply chain consultants TMX Global to develop the ‘gold standard’ design for truckies’ rest areas.
TMX consultants Glenn McCully and James Sheerin updated industry on what’s involved and gave a progress report to delegates at last week’s Trucking Australia conference on the Gold Coast.
“It’s very exciting for us as a consulting business to really sink our teeth into something meaningful and also to be here today has been super, super informative,” said Sheerin, whose CV boasts over 10 years’ experience in freight and logistics and a recent role as global head of client relations and implementation at VISA Global Logistics.
“There’s been a lot of really interesting ideas shared today; questions around the role of technology, the role of sustainability; the optics around attracting younger people to driving and really all that factors into our consideration around the design and development and then optimal location for a future gold standard heavy vehicle rest area.”
Sheerin said TMX is taking a four-phase approach to the project:
- Prove relevance of concept through a literature review, and present evidence of a case for change.
Crash data analysis
- Source and analyse crash data involving heavy vehicles and determine causal factors.
HV traffic volume/route analysis
- Leverage intellectual property and industry related data points to analyse heavy vehicle traffic.
Key audience engagement
- Identify key industry and/or impacted stakeholders to consult on amenity location and design elements.
Sheerin said TMX discovered that the quality of literature available is limited and the overall standard of rest area amenities for drivers is “antiquated”.
“I’m definitely not the first person to say that, and hopefully I’m not the last because there’s definitely a lot of work to be done in that space,” he said.
Sheerin said Australia is falling behind internationally, in terms of “best practice”.
He also said the crash data that’s needed to inform the project is also fragmented across multiple sources making it difficult to draw accurate conclusions.
“We really can’t manage what you can’t measure and it’s really important that we have isolated intensive gap analysis.”
Sheerin said there also appears to be a dearth of information on where non-fatal incidents occurred along the nation’s busiest, and most dangerous freight route, the eastern seaboard.
Although mindful of the data limitations so far, McCully said the early indications are that the first ‘gold standard’ rest area will be built in the eastern states.
“Part of what we’ll do is to put this data together, alongside our IP, and then engage the industry to understand where the industry best thinks a pilot [gold standard rest area] should be located,” said McCully, a senior consultant with over 18 years transport and logistics experience working in senior client facing roles with a heavy operational focus.
“When we say the industry, what we’re really talking about is government regulatory bodies, industry operators and groups and people in advocacy groups.”
McCully stressed that users of these rest areas will be top of that list when it comes to the engagement phase of the project.
“We need to attract new entrants to this industry, and we know that women are under-represented so that’s where we’re going to start.
“And then after that we’ll talk to operators and fleets, and transport companies and then we’ll start lobbying with local council, state government and federal government.
“The idea is to make sure that when you have a rest area pilot concept in mind, it is user focused, and we understand what the users want in terms of amenities, and that will be our starting point to take the concept forward.”
Added Sheerin: “Ultimately for us, it’s really about placing heavy vehicle drivers at the core of the future solution architecture, because ultimately, they’re the key users of the rest area.”
Sheerin said the Austroads guidelines for rest areas that came out in 2019 provide a good foundation, but don’t go far enough.
“Our conclusion is that it needs to be more of a modified social engagement model that really considers all the stakeholders.”
High-profile interstate driver Rod Hannifey was also on the same session panel at the conference to share his own ‘gold standard’ design, and some of frustrations he’s experienced with authorities in his long fight for better facilities for drivers.
“Yes, in some places a gold standard rest area would be really nice, but there are so many places that are available to us [already] that we can’t get to utilise,” said Hannifey as he displayed a variety of slides of ‘informal’ bays that could be made available to truckies.
“We must have somewhere that gives us an opportunity for sleep. If you don’t get it then you have to drive fatigue. We can’t legally drive fatigue. We don’t want to drive fatigued. But if we don’t have somewhere to get good quality sleep, how do we manage our fatigue and stay safe?
“I understand that the people at that level that have the funding control and the building control think they’re helping us, but unless they include us in discussions, unless they come to us, what they go and build today that’s no good, we’re stuck with for the next 30 years and you can’t get them to go back and fix it.”