Archive for September, 2008
Came across a bit of a nasty prang yesterday. I wasn’t first on the scene – it had happened several days before but because of the isolated location there had been no cleanup, also, the wreck was not actually on the road.
There was no way to recognise the make or model of the truck due to the fire which destroyed all but the 3rd trailer.
Apparently the driver got out ok, but that’s all I really know. Apart from the fact that someone isn’t going to be getting their triple roadtrain load of cherry pickers. Unless they don’t mind them a bit scorched. And Orix Trailer Rentals have got to be a bit pissed off – theirs is the 3rd trailer (mostly unburnt but slightly bent)
Now, people might think I’m a bit of a softy when I stop for a nap or call it a night before midnight, but one look at these photo’s is all it takes to remind me that, regardless of what happened to this driver, all it takes is a moment of inattention to end up in the same predicament. What do you tell the boss then?
Part of the problem with the mainstream media is their tendancy to group all manner of trucks and truck drivers under the one title which gives the public a misleading impression of professional drivers and truly “commercial” trucks. Whenever any type of truck is involved in an incident there is no distinction made between professional career drivers, tradesmen using small rigid trucks as an extension of their business and weekend warriors using a rented furniture van to move house.
I don’t have any statistics to back me up, but, I am sure professional drivers are involved in a dramatically fewer number of incidents/kilometer than “amatuer” truck drivers. Unfortunately amatuer and professional drivers are all lumped together by both the media and and the people responsible for compling road accident statistics. The media, by doing this, create a false image of “dangerous/killer” professional drivers and the statisticians distort the police and government’s view of the true nature of the problem leading to laws and policies which, while encompassing all truck drivers, may not be accurately directed at the “problem” group of drivers.
Yesterday I saw a prime example of a “non” professional driver flouting a basic rule of transport – by failing to secure his load.
The bobcat on the back of his rigid truck had no restraints at all, the only thing holding it on was gravity and the fold-down sides of the tray (made of wood and not looking very strong). All it would take for the machine to fall off or slide would be to brake heavily or swerve (avoiding other traffic) or simply hit a large and unexpected bump in the road.
Guess what the headline would be then? “Truck Loses Load And Kills Family”. This bloke needs a kick up the arse and the media need to realise that professional drivers hate idiots like this.
I have mentioned this before in my Twitter/Plurk feeds and in my podcast, but, I thought I would be safe just having a shower at a Shell Truckstop last night. I forgot to take into account the Coles (parent company) mission statement : “Cheap and Nasty”.
Shell Truckstops used to be fairly competitive with other truckstops in Western Australia. A truck driver could get fuel, a meal, a shower and a small “truckies lounge/area” was set aside with a tv so you could catch up on the news or the weather and kill some time.
When Coles (as in Coles Supermarkets) bought the retail outlets from Shell a few years ago they stripped out the kitchens, the truckies areas and the tv’s and modelled the whole operation on their supermarkets. In essence, in an effort to maximise profits, they removed everything a truck driver thousands of kilometers from home relies on. Service declined, the only food was hot pies or sandwiches made in another state and frozen until put out for sale. Without exception, every Shell I have visited has got dirtier, more rundown and more depressing since the Coles buyout.
To top it off, last night I couldn’t even get a simple shower from the Port Hedland Shell Truckstop because they didn’t even have running hot water. I’m curious to see if the maintenance budget contains enough funds to fix/replace the water heater or if this is part of the long term plan to cut the expenses and increase the profit margin for Coles.
Coles, you suck! It’s BP, Caltex, Ampol or the bloody water hole down the road for me in future.
I am currently sitting in a yard in the Karratha Light Industrial Area (LIA) waiting to unload. I left Perth yesterday with a 39t concrete block on the float that is destined to be used in the construction of the new LNG wharf at Dampier.
After an uneventful trip up here I am stuck while the mechanic works on the crane that will be used to unload me. Last trip up here (about 5 days ago) they had the same trouble with the crane and I fully expected it to be fixed for this trip. The crane runs for a short time before shutting down – unfortunately it doesn’t run long enough to complete the lift and let me get out of the way.
Luckily I’m not in a rush this afternoon. I have to be in Port Hedland (200km north) tomorrow morning to reload used conveyer belt to take back to Perth, so as long as they get me unloaded today I will be happy.
Might have a sleep though ; )
Map of the next few days’ travelling :
This is a video I shot a while ago. I was taking an oversized load to Newman from Perth and stopped near Kumarina to film this.