Truck Driver Safety

Kathryn Gow
QME 883 Origin tanker- precision driving par exemplar!

At the end of May/early June, 2014, in the middle of the year somewhere, I was driving along the emerging and somewhat dangerous Blacksoil interchange in the making.

It was late at night and I was so used to seeing heavy rigid vehicles fail to slow down in this dangerous section of road, I judged that the tanker would be one of the many to stay well back from.

It was at that stage when driving west, you had to veer right to go onto Brisbane Valley Highway and then lumber down a section of road, and suddenly twist and squeeze your vehicle around a curvy stretch of road and hope no-one was going to cut across you [you can tell this is being written by a female] and hope the police weren't there to get you, if you went over 40 as you turned home (for some) for the Somerset and northern regions.

Not once did QME 883 [hope I got your number right mate] cross over a line even in that tight unbelievably skinny road patch with a tight bend.

I followed him and watched this normally lumbering piece of machinery (cab plus 2 tankers) sail smoothly along the road and never once did he cross a line or break the speed limit.

I followed him along all the way down the BV highway and then saw him turn with plenty of warning into the Fernvale Freedom service station - again handling this huge heavy piece of machinery (laden with flammable product) with expert care.

How lucky we are to have this man on the road!

A few month later, I saw an Origin vehicle on the BVH and have to admit to being fascinated to see if this HR vehicle had the same number plate; yes, there he was - this same driver and vehicle moving along expertly again; this was while Jack Brabman was still alive and reminding us that it is possible to drive with precision under difficult driving conditions.

I felt like I had encountered an old friend, that I had a personal relationship with the driver of this particular gas tanker; as if I knew his every move; and felt safe sharing a road with a man who knew how to expertly handle a heavy vehicle.

As children, we shared the highways with truck drivers who were noted as being the gentlemen of the road and in the past couple of decades, with deadlines and low pay, the solid safe and reliable drivers appeared to have dwindled markedly.

But here driving through our regions was proof that the expert gentlemen of the road may not be a relic, but an exemplar for the future.

Take note Origin, keep this man; he raises your credibility in the community by being a precision driver. [Hope you don't get too much ragging from this article, mate!]

What's the Ruckus about Rickuss?

Interestingly, while someone publicly indicated that it is time for Ian Rickuss to move on following a misunderstanding, I have to report that I have always been impressed with the instances where I have seen the minster at work in the local community.

I had read about him in the Gatton star and other newspapers, and in the last years of the long drought, when I was working with farmers mostly on the other side of the range (western and southern downs), I had cause to drive through Gatton often and noted that he was out in the dry fields in the hot sun (with no cameras on him) talking with one of the local farmers about how things were going.

I was impressed as the farmers further west had a story printed off about "The Suits" - the government men who came to visit them on the farm in big expensive cares, but who knew nothing about what it meant to lose the family farm which had been in the family for 5+ generations in some cases. Rickuss stood there in the dirt sharing knowledge with a local farmer- no suit.

The second time I encountered him in a man's world, was when I rang his office and asked to see him about truck driver safety. Not only did he have his finger on the pulse about statistics of truck driver safety, he quickly produced a list of statistics to demonstrate that he had investigated the matter for the area and the highways and across QLD.

At that time, the truck driver deaths were low, but by the end of the year, there was an upward trend.

This State MP knew all about the " Lights on the Hill" Truck Driver Memorial and the day each year when you can attend an amazing and profoundly moving service in memory of the lost drivers; and see for yourself the demonstration of solidarity among the fallen and those left behind and those who are continuing on the tradition of transporting goods across Australia.

[Without Trucks, Australia Stops.]

If you have never been to one of these memorial services, if you enter into it, you will not be able to leave the event without experiencing a range of powerful emotions and sensations which you will never forget.

Within a few months of that office visit, while fundraising for the Laidley BCDR dog rescue group, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Ian Rickuss had taken time out of a busy schedule to visit the "Dogs Day Out" and I handed him the microphone and proceeded to ask him questions about a range of topics over the loud speaker to which he had pleasant and factual answers for all the attendee.

If you ever wanted to talk to this Member of Parliament, it was not hard; the office staff were always pleasant and effective in their management of the complex range of issues they had to deal with. E.g.: " what do you have on….? Can you tell me where I can find…. Who does what around the place?"

Never once was this man rude or impatient; never once did he think I was a crazy lady who needed to recheck her statistics [No, the ABS stats, you guys, not the vital statistics]. He is knowledgeable, lucid, intelligent, interested in truck safety and committed to the area.

If you look up his website, as Member for Lockyer, he even has a section for comments on roads.

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