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Trucking industry calls for second Oakey rail crossing amid growing safety fears
The heavy transport industry in Oakey, on southern Queensland's Darling Downs, is calling for the construction of a second rail crossing in the town, to improve safety.
A petition is currently circulating Oakey, asking Toowoomba council to consult with government to build the second crossing.
A spokesman for heavy vehicle transport operators, Mark Hogg, said it was a particularly busy intersection when people had finished work for the day.
"If you throw a few B-doubles into the mix and a train as well, you've got a disaster waiting to happen," he said.
Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio said he was aware of the issue.
"We're going to try and work with other funding sources to make sure we can get good access for these logistics people," he said.
Mr Hogg said he was worried the problem would get worse for truck drivers, as well as local commuters, as the rail line got busier.
He said there had been strong support for the petition.
"I think there was something like 60 signatures in a couple of days, I mean even the local townspeople have a stake in this because they have to use the same crossing," he said.
Celebrating our Aussie truckies
GREAT JOB: Iveco is proud of our truckies!
THANK God for truckies! They're the reason Big Rigs exists and without you, Australia would definitely stop.
To help celebrate the great work you do and all things truckie, we've launched Truckie Pride.
A spin-off from Industry Pride, this campaign will highlight all the good things that truckies do day to day.
Iveco Trucks Australia is one of our first major sponsors for the campaign.
Marketing manager Darren Swenson said Big Rigs' Truckie Pride initiative was an excellent program and well worth supporting.
"It's unfortunate that often when the commercial vehicle industry gains any prominence it's as a result of something negative happening such as an accident," Mr Swenson said.
"What's overlooked is the important role that truck drivers and the broader transport and logistics industry play in Australia, and how vital road freight transport is to a country such as ours.
"It's important that the very small rogue element involved in capturing bad headlines doesn't overshadow the great work the rest of the industry is undertaking.
"Big Rigs' Truckie Pride will go a long way in changing people's perceptions of the industry and help highlight the many positives," Mr Swenson said.
Along with the campaign, we're also running another huge competition.
Purchase a product at one of the businesses partnering with Big Rigs and you can go in the draw to win one of two $2500 vouchers.
The campaign launch date is set for October 9, so don't miss edition 20 for all the details on how to enter the competition. This campaign is all about highlighting the great work you do, so show your Truckie Pride today.
If your business wants to get involved phone (07) 3817 1735.
All-Star Haulage: One way traffic
While there is not all too much heavy cargo leaving the ACT apart from the odd parliamentarian heavyweight, local transport businesses like All Star Haulage don’t get tired of finding new ways to operate profitably in a one-way traffic scenario.
Like so many in commercial road transport, Wayne Hill says trucking is in his blood. He tried to get away from the industry before and spent some time working for the Government, but soon missed the challenge and satisfaction of working in the transport game – eventually allowing it to lure him back behind the wheel.
Since 2009, Wayne and his wife Judy own and run local family business All Star Haulage, alongside sons Chris and Ryan and Wayne’s brothers Ken and Darrell. Together, they cope with the inherent issue of being located in the ACT – there is a lot of freight coming in, but not much going out.
To handle the misbalance, the family has embarked on a diversification course to ensure there are multiple sources of income to form a steady base, even though empty runs back cannot always be avoided. Most recently, the All Star team has been focusing on the booming building and construction industry in Canberra, bringing in building materials such as bricks and tiles from Sydney, with at least one load of tiles a day arriving in Botany. Loads of PVC pipe and steel to feed the relentless construction activity in Canberra also play a vital part of the All Star operation.
Testament to the family’s inventiveness, All Star is trying to benefit from the amount of computer equipment needed in Canberra by bringing in perforated steel cable trays and other electrical wiring needed to fit out new office and factory buildings. IT equipment can be bulky and sensitive, which is why Wayne equipped an Isuzu rigid with an extra high set of gates and tarps solely for the delicate freight.
ATA throws weight behind LED brake lighting
Backing for trailer brake lights switch part of advisory on heavy vehicle electrical wiring
Trailer LED lighting should be part of any rewiring, a new Australian Trucking Association (ATA) advisory concludes.
The safety call comes in the ATA’s new Technical Advisory Procedure on heavy vehicle electrical wiring, which includes guidance on trailer lighting system requirements.
The advisory procedure was developed by the ATA’s Industry Technical Council and includes electrical fire prevention tips as well.
"LED lighting has been available for heavy vehicle use for some time," ATA CEO Christopher Melham says.
"One of the benefits of these lights is that they light up faster than traditional incandescent bulbs.
"At 100 km/h, a LED brake light will come on 4.4 metres earlier than a comparable incandescent light.
"This can easily be the difference between a rear-end crash and a near miss.
"We’ve listed the key areas that workshops and operators should check to make sure the truck electrical system stays safe and reliable throughout the vehicle’s lifetime."
A life of cherished treasures for specialist car carrier
Alan Norton and his daughter Skye were taking a break at the BP truck stop in Townsville when Owner//Driver caught up with them. It was a big weekend in the north Queensland city, with the running of the Castrol Edge Townsville 400.
Although Alan does transport race cars, his principle freight is antique and prestige vehicles.
The father and daughter team were delivering a Lamborghini from Sydney in his Scania P480, later picking up a rare Jaguar XJ 120 from Lake Eacham in the Atherton Tableland.
"The Jag is 90 per cent restored and is going to Sydney to be completed and then sold at auction," Alan explains.
"Allegedly it’s one of the five of the first aluminium ones built."
Alan and his wife Lee run Alan’s Unique Car Carriers, a fleet of three semis with a six-car fully enclosed race car transporter, as well as two three-car fully enclosed transporters.
A motor mechanic in his early years, by 1996 Alan had had enough of modern technology and computers and left his job to start his own towing service in Sydney.
"I put the tools away and started driving…and I’m still driving today," Alan says.
"I did my time on a fair few cars, learning from service stations from where I worked.
"I ended up working at BMW and the game started to change so much, it was all going electronic. I didn’t like it so I got out."
Alan tows trailers he designs himself to meet his requirements, including the 48-foot fully enclosed six-car transporter he brought to Townsville.
"I need every inch of room I can when you get to bigger cars," he says.
"The new Maserati cars have grown from 5.1m to 5.3m and a Rolls Royce can be up to 5.8m long."
Back in the office, Lee handles all the administration, bookings and the financials, of which Alan is greatly appreciative, especially when he is out on the road for long periods of time.
"Lee has been there since day one, from the towing service to now.
"There are other big companies out there but we get a lot of comments that they can never speak to the same person, whereas Lee is always available, as am I."
Alan is happy with the way things are going, adding that it beats being in a workshop from 9 to 5.
"I was just bored doing the same old thing, sticking a car on a hoist and getting dirty," he says.
"But transporting some of the world’s finest motor cars and being out on the road, everything changes and the people we meet and are dealing with appreciate our level of service."
PFD switches to Allison automatic
PFD Food Services has reportedly decided to switch its entire fleet of distribution trucks from manual and automated manual (AMT) gearboxes to Allison fully automatic transmissions.
According to Steve Wright, National Fleet Manager for PFD, the move came after he drove an Allison-equipped truck at a customer drive event at the Australian Automotive Research Centre's Anglesea Proving Ground.
"I have to say I came away impressed with the new generation of Allison transmissions and realized they were a much better option for our operations than manuals or AMTs," said Wright.
According to Allison, Wright's experience convinced him that Allison fully automatic-equipped vehicles were easier to operate and required less training, an advantage given the increasing demand for drivers.
"It is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit skilled drivers," said Wright. "So by providing Allison Automatics we recruit with a truck that is easier to drive and requires less training."
PFD also recently ordered 20 new Isuzu FVD 1000s equipped with Allison 3000 Series fully automatic transmissions, some of which have already entered service.
"I believe automatics are the way of the future in distribution work, not only because of the ease of use, but also because of the efficiency and safety advantages they deliver," said Wright. "They are simply a smarter choice."
Two truckies charged after pot pipe falls from shorts
POLICE from NSW's Traffic and Highway Patrol Command have charged two truck drivers over alleged cannabis possession.
Police pulled up a truck on the Sturt Hwy at Hay on Sunday (27/09/15) and found more than they bargained for. Photo Facebook Contributed
Police say while they were speaking to the driver a "pipe" fell from his shorts onto the ground in front of them.
The driver, his passenger and the truck were subsequently searched.
Police pulled up a truck on the Sturt Hwy at Hay on Sunday (27/09/15) and found more than they bargained for. Photo Facebook Contributed
Police allege they located Cannabis, ICE and drug implements.
Both occupants were charged over the alleged crimes and are due to appear at Hay Court in November.
First Mercedes-Benz Actros prototype trial completed
Melbourne-based RedStar Transport has finalised the trial of a prototype next-generation Mercedes-Benz Actros fitted with the brand’s all-new 580hp 16-litre in-line six-cylinder engine.
According to the German truck brand, veteran driver Stephen Monkhouse covered some 32,000km in the matt-black truck – one of up to 17 evaluation units to be trialled by operators in Australia and New Zealand before the model will be officially launched in 2016.
Equipped with a 12-speed Powershift 3 automated transmission and compliant with the latest Euro 6 emissions standard, the 6x4 model was reportedly used for general freight haulage between Melbourne and Sydney and ran as a B-double combination at a weight of 45 to 50 tonnes.
“[The trial] gives us a chance to offer some feedback and have an input into specification of the Australian versions of these trucks,” Redstar’s General Manager, Chris Pearce, commented on the project.
“We were very happy with the numbers, especially knowing there will be some further improvements with the next round of evaluation models,” he added.
“There were no major issues at all, just a few small improvements we recommended.”
According to Mercedes-Benz, the next evaluation trucks on the way to Australia will be fitted with fuel saving hypoid axles, larger fuel tanks and larger AdBlue tanks, all of which have been requested by local customers.
The Actros evaluation unit first used by RedStar Transport is now running up more kilometres with “another leading operator“, while the melbourne company continues to use the 11 current-generation Actros V8 models it recently added to its fleet.
Albury-Wodonga's Convoy for Kids attracts trucks and people
UP TO 150 trucks wound their way to the Albury Showgrounds on Sunday to show support for two children’s charities.
In its second year, the Commercial Club Convoy for Kids 2015 attracted similar crowd numbers to its first event and raised about $8000 so far, with some donations still to be finalised.
The day supported Country Hope and Give Me 5 for Kids, which both help sick children in this region and their families.
Derek Boyer, formerly of Albury and known as Australia’s strongest man, pulled the first truck to start the convoy at the Barnawartha BP Service Station.
“I'm in the truck pulling business," Mr Boyer said.
"It was fittingly appropriate.
"What you have here today is over $50 million worth of vehicle as a show of support for some great local charities.”
Churchill Transport, represented by nine trucks, led the event, an honour that was auctioned off for about $2000 as part of the fundraising.
Country Hope Albury manager Nikki Grae said one of the charity’s volunteers came up with the original idea for the day.
"He's a truckie himself, he said, 'Wouldn't it be wonderful to hold a convoy locally?',” she said.
The organisers contacted truck companies directly and also promoted the event through social media.
"The truckies, I think they're quite a closeknit group of people and the word just spread,” Ms Grae said.
“They were quite excited.
"The trucking industry is very under-recognised in the Albury-Wodonga area, so it's a bit of a celebration for the trucking industry as well as supporting local charities."
Once gathered at the showgrounds, the trucks stood on display for the crowds who attended the day.
Other vehicles, including classic, custom, hot rod and vintage cars, also gleamed in the sunshine that attracted many families.
A woodchopping event, dancers, rides and sideshows featured on the program as well.
Ms Grae thanked all those who helped run the convoy.
"We've had a great turn-out of support from volunteers, which is wonderful," she said
Fears for missing Qld-bound Vic truckie
A TRUCK driver who has been missing for a fortnight may never have begun his 1750-kilometre drive from Victoria to Queensland.
KEITH Foggin, 46, was expected to set out by car from Bacchus Marsh, west of Melbourne, on September 24 to begin his next job near his daughter's home in Scarborough, north of Brisbane.
But his almost-daily phone calls to his daughter have stopped, his phone is off and, most concerning for his family, his bank account is untouched. Mr Foggin's family said his trusting nature and history of hitchhiking may have led to him picking up someone early into his trip. "I doubt if he'd drive past a hitchhiker," said brother Bruce Foggin. The grey Ford XD station wagon the truckie is believed to have picked up from a Bacchus Marsh address on September 24 is also missing. That same day, Mr Foggin was due to pick up a unregistered vehicle permit for the drive to Queensland but it was never collected. "He doesn't have any money for petrol so he couldn't have got too far," his brother said. The truck driver had recently completed work at the Royal Melbourne Show.
Safety Truck makes a stop in Mackay
The ATA Safety Truck continues its travels around the country with a stop in Mackay on 6 October.
The Safety Truck travels to shows and exhibitions around Australia, where it uses animated videos, custom road safety apps and live presentations to show road users how to share the road safely with heavy vehicles.
ATA Communications Manager, Steve Power, said the Safety Truck messages were particularly important for young drivers in regional Australia.
“We know a lot of our younger drivers aren’t ever specifically taught how to drive safely around heavy vehicles – it’s not included in your L or P plate tests,” Power said.
“Inside the Safety Truck, visitors can test out their skills with our road safety app and learn about the truckies top tips, which include not cutting in front of trucks, staying back from turning vehicles, and avoiding truck blind spots.
“We’re proud to partner with the Mackay Road Accident Action Group (RAAG) and Carol and Ian Single from Single Transport Services to bring the Safety Truck to the Mackay community, and particularly local schools in the area.
“I’d also like to thank Blenner’s Transport and Rocky’s Own Transport for their support in bringing the Safety Truck to north Queensland.”
Trucking groups, operators lodge concerns about fixed rates for owner-drivers
Linfox and Toll are among those to raise issues with proposed minimum rates for owner-drivers.
A significant grouping of road freight operators and their customers has joined calls for the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) to recast its proposal to introduce minimum pay rates for owner-drivers.
The draft Contractor Driver Minimum Payments Road Safety Remuneration Order has been under concerted attack from industry representative bodies, including the Australian Long Distance Owner and Drivers Association (ALDODA), the South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) and the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA).
Now NatRoad, Road Freight New South Wales and the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) have combined to have a crack, though NatRoad has already blasted the proposal by saying its membership believes there are holes in it.
The grouping’s submission, led by the Ai Group, argues compliance with the proposed January 1 start date is unrealistic.
"It is unreasonable to expect that hirers will be able to accommodate significant increases in the costs associated with the engagement of contractor drivers," the submission says.
"More significantly, it is unrealistic to expect that hirers will be able to meet increases without significant advance notice of the obligation."
The lack of exemption for specialised sectors is of concern, with uniform and inflexible regulation for its own sake on widely differing supply chain arrangement is argued against.
The submission also raises the possibility of conflict with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) over pricing freedom it says is protected under the Competition and Consumer Act and its aim "to enhance the welfare of Australians through the promotion of competition".
The grouping’s submission notes the draft order has complex implications along the supply chain that need further investigation, including cost-recovery, a theme Linfox takes up in its own submission.
Linfox backs the thrust of the draft but it wants provision for a system of recovering increases by the hirer.
"Linfox submits that should the clause be included in the Order this will encourage transparency in the supply chain and allow the hirer to recover the costs without impacting upon the road transport driver or create downward pressure on the supply chain," the company writes.
It also calls for the various driver payment means, including "box rates, trip rates, pallet rates and the like", to be recognised and raises the issue of the draft order’s conflict with fatigue break payments rulings in NSW, which are unpaid under an Industrial Relations Commission ruling.
Toll, while not opposing an order being made, joins those industry bodies warning that the use of owner-drivers in the supermarket sector is likely to be curtailed due to the increased cost involved.
It puts the increases at 20-30 per cent, and up to 55 per cent in regional areas and seeks a ‘lowest cost fit-for-purpose’ model be used.
The company believes the proposed rates, drawn from work done by KPMG, are not realistic.
"Toll’s consideration of the KPMG Report is that many inputs to make up the rates proposed are incredibly inflated or overstated and not experienced within the industry," Toll’s submission says.
"Likewise, in many instances, hours of work performed in the supermarket distribution and long distance sectors are not accurately reflected.
"This, together with assumptions that all Owner-Drivers only provide their vehicle for use for 48 weeks of the year results in an underestimation of annual kilometres travelled, and a high base on which to spread fixed costs of business."
It also views the audit requirements through the supply chain to be "burdensome and over-regulatory".
KPGM’s report is also questioned on its treatment of goods and services tax, particularly on ‘representative vehicles’ and taken to task over its understanding of fuel issues repair and maintenance, tyre cost, hours worked per week and time worked.
NSW tunnel warning after two incidents in one day
New South Wales authorities have issued an over-height load warning following two tunnel impact incidents yesterday.
The warning came on the same day as details emerged of about $200,000 in compensation, costs and fines were meted out to two companies involved in a similar incident in 2012.
In yesterday’s incidents a low loader carrying an excavator hit the roof mounted fire sprinklers inside the Airport Tunnel’s south bound lanes, breaking the roof and sprinklers.
Police and Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) officers found the combination has travelled for 100 metres before the driver realised the collision had occurred, at which point he stopped his vehicle.
The driver copped a penalty notice for Disobey Low Clearance Sign, which carries a $2,196 penalty as well as the loss of six demerit points.
Meanwhile, another heavy vehicle activated the height warning sensors just before the M5 tunnel at Bexley.
Police and RMS inspectors later stopped the truck, which was then backed-up and re-directed to an RMS checking station.
While the truck and load were found not to be over height, it is believed that debris in the load contributed to the tunnel sensors being activated.
Several defects were found on the vehicle during the checking station inspection.
"Along with the fine and loss of demerit points, the driver involved in today’s incident is also facing the possibility of licence and registration suspension for up to three months and a bill to recoup the costs to repair the tunnel," RMS safety and compliance director Peter Wells says, warning that NSW has "toughest heavy vehicle compliance regime in the country".
Smokey truck attracts $10,000 fine
THE owner of a truck has been fined $10,000 for emitting excessive smoke in Sydney's M5 East tunnel.
NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA)'s Director Reform and Compliance, David Fowler, said the company had previously been issued three penalty notices for the same offence.
"This truck had already been fined three times for emitting excessive smoke in the M5 tunnel," Mr Fowler said.
"Because of this appalling track record, the EPA chose to prosecute the owner of the vehicle, Tizzana Investments Pty Ltd."
Tizzana Investments pleaded guilty and were fined $10,000 plus prosecutor's costs of $750.
"This is the largest fine for smoky vehicles in the M5 tunnel to date, and should serve as a warning to all heavy vehicle operators on our roads," Mr Fowler said.
The EPA and Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) operate the M5 East Heavy Vehicle Emission Reduction Program.
In a statement the EPA said this program aimed to improve air quality in the M5 East tunnel by improving compliance, through increased penalties, as well as offering vehicle owners financial assistance to install partial diesel particulate filters.
"Operators of smoky vehicles face on-the-spot fines issued by the EPA of $2,000, with repeat offenders attracting even tougher penalties," Mr Fowler said.
As this case illustrates, if the matter is prosecuted in court, the fine can be a lot higher.
"The maximum penalty that a court can impose for this offence is $44,000."
"The health impacts of air pollution are well known, and the EPA is committed to improving air quality throughout the state."
Truck spills 8,000 pounds of red wine grapes onto Highway 128
A trucker hauling grapes through the Alexander Valley spilled a large load of grapes onto Highway 128 Tuesday morning after apparently taking a curve too fast and hitting a culvert, CHP officials said.
Crews were attempting to remove the red-wine grapes from the road after the 8:43 a.m. crash, while officers directed one-way traffic on the highway near Chalk Hill Road just west of the Knights Valley, CHP Officer Mike Phennicie said.“It is a great slippery, sloppy mess,” Phennicie said.
The trucker drove into a sharp, 90-degree curve that has been the site of crashes before, Phennicie said. The speed limit in the area is 55 mph.
The big rig was hauling two flat trailers carrying large grape bins attached by hinges.
When the truck entered the curve, the vehicles swung outward, hitting a culvert that caused the back trailer to pop up, knocking the bin over its hinge and spilling the load, Phennicie said. The officer estimated as much as 8,000 pounds of grapes spilled.
Several “locals” dragged the truck out of the road with “chains and pickup trucks,” the officer said.
The truck driver, a 50-year-old man from Tracy, was driving a truck belonging to Alexis Trucking out of Modesto, Phennicie said. He did not provide the driver’s name.