Hannifey rest area plan seeks new approach

By: Brad Gardner

Rod Hannifey proposes all-in-one rest areas, as figures show severe lack of acceptable sites in NSW

Hannifey rest area plan seeks new approach
Man with a plan: Rod Hannifey is pushing for a better deal on rest areas for truck drivers.


Rest areas capable of accommodating truck drivers and motorists at the one site should be built, trucking industry advocate Rod Hannifey says.

Hannifey has put forward a plan that would end the traditional approach of governments providing separate rest areas for truck drivers and travellers.

Hannifey, who has spent years pushing for better rest areas, says sites should have dedicated sections for caravans and stock crates and fridge vans, while also providing separate spots for those taking short breaks and long breaks.

Under his approach, everyone will share facilities that include toilets, playgrounds, an amenities block, barbecues, tables and chairs and shelter.

Hannifey told ATN he is concerned truck drivers will continue to put up with sub-par facilities if authorities continue building separate rest areas for truck drivers and the general public. 

"What happens then is they go and spend all the money on the car and caravan facilities and we get nothing as usual. We get a bit of dirt and a rubbish bin if we’re lucky," Hannifey says.

"You will never get them to build additional facilities for us. You will certainly get them to build good facilities for cars and caravans and if we don’t get included we will get left out."

His plan includes a ‘caravan corner’, which Hannifey believes will help prevent problems happening now when travellers decide to use heavy vehicle rest areas. 

"The issue with caravaners is they pull up late in the afternoon and think, ‘we’ll stay here for the night’...When they pull-up and go to bed they don’t think of anybody else because there’s no-one else there," he says.

"Of course what happens about 10, 11, 12 that night, we all start trooping in and trying to find a park and if they haven’t parked well out of the way, the way they park means that one truck can’t get in in front and one can’t get behind so he parks to the side and the next one’s crooked and then the fourth one can’t get in at all."

Hannifey says keeping stock crates and fridge vans in one section will ensure the noise from the vehicles does not disturb others.

Under his proposal, the ‘caravan corner’ will be allocated to the left of the area, with stock crates and fridge vans on the opposite side.

Front and rear parking bays will border the amenities, with trucks having access to the section for long breaks and cars restricted to the area for short stops.

"Truckies wishing to sleep at night will not be disturbed by those stopping for short breaks," Hannifey says.

He has also responded to recent comments from New South Wales roads minister Duncan Gay, who suggested having truck drivers reserve parking spots at rest areas in advance.

"Until the day where we have enough parking bays in Australia, how are you ever going to be able to book a rest area when there simply aren’t enough spots now?" Hannifey says.

The NSW road authority, the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), says it is committed to providing rest areas along key routes to give truck drivers a safe place to take a break.

However, only about 7 per cent of sites in NSW qualify as ‘major rest areas’ which, according to National Transport Commission (NTC) guidelines, must have toilets, shade, shelter, bins and tables and chairs, generous parking spaces, sealed road and be at 100km intervals.

"The NSW Government is identifying existing rest areas which can be upgraded to major heavy vehicle rest areas. Of the more than 1,400 rest areas across NSW, 101 currently qualify as major heavy vehicle rest areas," a spokesperson for the RMS says.

The agency says most rest areas in NSW are under the control of councils.

Earlier this year it issued a directive to local governments to erect signs at rest areas under their control to inform motorists camping was not permitted.

A spokesperson for the RMS says camping at rest areas is a health and safety issue because there are limited amenities available.

"Campers may also restrict space for heavy vehicle operators required to stop and take obligatory breaks," the spokesperson says.

The NSW branch of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA NSW) last month took aim at travellers who set up camp at rest areas.

"These are not camping spots and pretend caravan parks so people should not be putting up their awnings and having their cups of tea. These are dedicated rest areas for truckies and we need to be making sure there are plenty of those," ATA NSW manager Jodie Broadbent says.

"Our rest areas for freight vehicles are very important so they [drivers] can comply with legislative requirements, and having somebody set up their caravan and camp there is entirely inappropriate."

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