The wild things

6 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineNovember 16, 2018


This week‘s been fantastic. There‘s nothing I love more than putting the pen down, walking away from the word processor, and heading off to do a bit of trucking. I‘d had a couple of days earmarked on the calendar for about three months and I wasn‘t going to cancel them for anything. A round of the great Southern Island on rural supply work with a mate of a couple of decades – driving, loading, unloading – just awesome.

While it was most definitely labelled ‘leave‘ on the calendar, it reminded me of the importance of getting out and in amongst it as often as I am able, as many things got my goat, reinforcing some of the opinions I have from time to time. So, here‘s what sent the pyro needle into the red at different stages.

First. The old chestnut of ‘safety‘ rails appearing on the state highways like acne on a teenager, when the road surface immediately adjacent is akin to a ploughed field. The Weka Pass in North Canterbury would be a perfect case in point currently. If you want to piss around holding up traffic in the interests of ‘safety‘, then do something worthwhile with our tax that actually improves ‘safety‘. Forget the barrier, put the rippers on the 14G and drag them through the five kilometres of bitumen that‘s throwing you off the road in the first place. And can someone explain how deflecting the results of recalcitrant driving back into the path of innocent parties is in any way safe, or fair for that matter? Our parents and grandparents believed the paddock was the price you paid for being an arse, allowing the farmer driving toward you on his tractor, fencing pliers in hand, the opportunity to turn any minor damage to your car into major damage.

Second. Ridiculous queue lengths at the Glasnevin weigh station. These trucks all represent businesses attempting to satisfy customer demands and keep to deadlines. Yes, no issue with stopping and processing trucks for compliance violations, but could the person operating the ‘All Trucks Stop‘ sign be given a swivel chair so now and then they can turn and look out the back window of the office. If the yard is full to brimming, maybe let one or two past?

Third, driver amenities. This is a huge one for me. How can we ever convince any career prospects of the professionalism of our industry when there‘s little to no consideration of the needs of truck drivers anywhere on the network. Signs like ‘Buses, No Trucks‘ do little to engender a personal sense of public worth. A truck driver knowing where the best public toilets are for a pee and a wash-up, ones with close enough 23m parking, is humiliating in 2018. We deserve much better. What are the odds the new Christchurch network doesn‘t even have a north- and south-bound multiple 23m unit pull-off area planned, much less a dunny and hand basin? Rest assured it‘ll have kilometres of guardrail barely 2.5m from the fog line.

Having said all that however, kudos where it‘s due. Bouquets to the Ashburton District Council and their facilities maintenance team for the condition and cleanliness of the public toilets at Hinds.   

Fourth, the track condition. Harking back a bit to number one, but the general road surface has to be mentioned in its own right. Take the left-hand lane climbing south out of Balclutha as one of a million examples. It‘s an utter disgrace, and has been like it for a while by all accounts. Considering we‘ve just discovered that a melted road surface affects braking efficiency, the realisation that the road surface may compromise safety could be a haircut or two away.

It‘s made all the worse when you consider a huge chunk of our RUC is now heading off to help rail, public transport, and cyclists. We really are a soft touch.

And of course the travelling public last of all. To the woman in the grey Toyota Highlander, you stand as a sentinel to all that‘s encompassed in contemporary Kiwi driving. Why should a climbing, blind, left-hand corner with heavy double yellow centrelines on the Hope Saddle have any impact on your need to pass this truck? If your need is that great, here‘s hoping the inevitable long and arduous recuperation the teabags tell me is somewhere in your future gives you time to reconsider your own personal style of driving lunacy.

And with all that, you still ‘gotta‘ love truckin.‘