In Kenworth, Aussie Angles, January 202111 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineFebruary 17, 2021

This special application engineered Kenworth T610SAR has been specced to make the road ahead a lot easier for Tas Road Express operator Daniel White. The past decade has not been an easy one for him; it has been a long, tough haul on the road to recovery and being able to climb back behind the wheel to do the job he‘s always dreamed of doing.

This is an inspirational story of one man‘s determination to overcome every challenge and obstacle thrown at him to achieve his goal. Daniel is the second generation in the successful Tas Road Express family transport business. Like many prosperous trucking companies, Tas Road Express owes much of its success to its founders for the long, tireless hours, sound business practices, and good old-fashioned service they provided. These are work ethics and principles that Daniel‘s father, Andrew, instilled in him at an early age – principles that demand quality, with no compromise on safety or service. It‘s these high standards of service the company provides its customers that make them stand out from the crowd. It‘s also the same level of service expected from suppliers. The White family‘s relationship with Kenworth Trucks goes back many years, and according to Daniel, the ability of Kenworth Australia to customise its trucks to suit his very specific needs went a long way to making his life a lot easier.

Photo: Note LED spots discreetly hidden behind the grille.

Daniel‘s trucking career came to an abrupt stop back in January 2009, when he was involved in a serious truck accident on the Lyell Highway near the notorious Mount Arrowsmith on Tasmania‘s rugged west coast that cost him the use of his left arm. “It was Saturday evening,” Daniel recalled. “I thought I‘d join my mate, Tim Bennett, on his run from Hobart up to Strahan with a load of bulk bags of fish food. Usually, you‘d get to New Norfolk and tighten the straps then you wouldn‘t need to touch them again for the rest of the journey. But this particular night, the bags just wouldn‘t settle. We got to Ouse and tightened them up a bit more, then again at Tarraleah, and then at the top of Mount Arrowsmith tightened them up for the fourth time.” Unbeknown to Daniel and his mate, one of the bottom bags had split, which was causing the load to move.

Photo: Daniel White back on the road.

And, almost word for word, straight from Joy McKean‘s famous Lights on the Hill song, ‘The load started shiftin‘ I-i-in a dance‘ and it was ‘over the edge and down the mountain side‘. It took 12 hours to get Daniel out of the truck and helicoptered to the Royal Hobart Hospital. Twenty-four hours later he was flown to Melbourne for specialist treatment. Sadly, his mate Tim died. “So began my long, hard road to recovery,” Daniel said. Daniel admits that he had his fair share of critics during his recovery, especially whenever he‘d remark that he was going back to trucking. Step one was to learn to walk again. “Getting back behind the wheel of my truck was my motivation,” Daniel said. “That‘s what made me get up every morning and take it one step at a time. “My licence was suspended on medical grounds,” Daniel explained. “To get my licence back I had to retake my driving test with a driving occupational therapist and a driving instructor. At the time there were no test vehicles capable of seating three occupants available in Tasmania. However, DECA in Victoria had one, which meant I had to take a trip over there with the driving occupational therapist to be tested.

Photo: Tasmanian Kenworth agent CJD Equipment went so far as to move switches and the gear shifter so that Daniel‘s life behind the wheel would be a little bit easier.

Nothing was simple!” Daniel got his licence back around the end of 2011, albeit an automatic one. “My old truck had a CAT C16 with an 18-speed, consequently, after some preliminary enquiry about getting it converted to an automatic proved economically unviable, I traded it for a 2006 T404SAR with a C15 and a three-pedal Eaton AutoShift. That truck really got me going again. I kept that T404SAR for five years then upgraded to a 2011 K200 big cab.” The decision to specify the new T610SAR this time involved two key considerations: the ability of Kenworth‘s local engineering team to customise the vehicle to better suit Daniel‘s requirements, and provide application flexibility to be able to cover a diverse range of tasks. “Both Luke and Chris from CJD Equipment here in Tasmania were extremely helpful during the purchasing of this truck,” Daniel said. “Because I don‘t have the use of my left arm, they were able to get the headlight dipswitch mounted on the floor and fit a paddle style gear shifter on the right of the steering column. It‘s all these little things that make my life a helluva lot easier.”

Photo: Daniel went for the twin bunk so that his kids could go truckin‘ too! Right: Accommodation is comfortable with the 4100mm sleeper, storage tower, and a large fridge.

Behind the polished stainless steel grille sits a Cummins X15 rated at 410kW (550hp) and 2508Nm (1850lbft) of torque. It is coupled to Eaton‘s FO-22E318B-MXP UltraShift- Plus transmission, with the optional Dual-Mode load-sensitive skip-shifting, Urge to Move, and Hill Start Assist. The Cummins-Eaton combination features the latest ECM integrated power systems that include Smart- Torque-2 and Smart-Coast, all designed to maximise fuel economy. To further enhance the fuel efficiency of his T610SAR, Daniel specified the Meritor RT46-160GP rear axles with the taller 3.91:1 final drive ratio. “Our older trucks had tall final drive ratios and they paid big dividends in fuel savings,” Daniel said. “I‘m seriously chasing high twos with this engine transmission and final drive ratio package. Straight out of the box its fuel economy is not too bad, and it‘s getting better as it‘s bedding in.” Future-proofing his investment is one reason for his decision to specify the top of the range 1400mm sleeper. The other is having a quality of life while working away from home. “A few years back it was considered the norm to leave Hobart at three in the morning to be in Devonport at the other end of the state at daybreak, and then still do a full day‘s work on top of that. Now, with tighter regulations on fatigue and chain of responsibility, it‘s far easier to go up the night before and have good night‘s rest.”

Inside the sleeper, Daniel specified the twin, upper and lower bunk option so his children can accompany him on runs. The space also includes a storage tower and a large fridge. The main dash includes the Paccar information centre, which can display trip and fuel economy information. In the centre dash panel is the Paccar 7” display touchscreen, which includes truck navigation, eight virtual gauges, the ability to view up to four cameras, and of course the entertainment system. There is no question this journey so far has been a long, tough haul for Daniel, but those work ethics and principles that his father instilled in him early in his trucking career have been his driving force. His determination to beat adversity to get back behind the wheel is certainly inspirational. “Yes, planning and specifying this Kenworth T610SAR certainly was one of the highlights of the past decade for me,” Daniel says with a smile. “Certainly, I‘ve been a long-time Kenworth fan, love cool trucks and always dreamed of driving them. I just hope that my story can inspire someone else who might be suffering personal hardship and help them take the first step towards achieving their dreams.”

Photo: It took Daniel nearly three years of recovery, dedication and commitment to get back behind the wheel of a truck.