Why did you become a truck driver and how long have you been driving for?
A truck driving career was never on my radar, however a third terrifying tailgating incident on the NSW north coast by an aggressive truck driver in 2007 was the catalyst for my late-life career change and my quest to take a look at the trucking industry from behind the wheel of a heavy vehicle.
This aggressive behaviour was a physical manifestation of industry attempts to placate clients by prioritising freight deadline demands over driver safety. As a result, a “get out of our way – we’re coming through” culture had developed out on the roads – particularly amongst the overnight interstate freighter cohort as drivers tried to meet unrealistically tight delivery deadlines.
Drug use to combat fatigue was common as drivers not only ran the gauntlet – they also took the brunt of the consequences of this often-deadly merry-go-round – risking their lives, relationships, livelihoods and health.
Now an eight-year veteran, I’ve driven roadtrains throughout WA, SA, QLD, NSW, Victoria and across the top end – through wet season flood waters, dust storms and fires – transporting everything from cornflakes to oversize mining infrastructure under escort.
What’s the best part of your job?
There’s no single “best part” when it comes to trucking. I love meeting new people and hearing their stories, I love the open road listening to my country music, the sunrises and sunsets, the variety of work and new horizons I get to drive into and the fact that there’s something new to look forward to every day. Best of all, I love being paid to travel our sunburnt country on an all-expenses paid tour as an Aussie truckie!
What is the most significant positive change you have seen across the industry since you’ve started driving?
Perhaps the most significant positive change to industry practices occurred in 2018 with the introduction of Chain of Responsibility legislation recognising multiple parties may be responsible for offences committed by drivers.
I recall an almost palpable sigh of relief amongst drivers as those along the chain suddenly found themselves in the crosshairs – no longer able to pass the buck onto overworked, underpaid drivers.
What makes you happy inside your truck?
First and foremost, being organised makes me happy in my truck as this takes the pressure off so I can relax and enjoy the trip. A clean work environment, good music and podcasts to while away the hours also make me happy. I enjoy my own company and spend a lot of time on forward planning for WiTA.
What makes you happy outside of your truck?
I love spending time with positive, happy people, walking my dog Monty, my work with WiTA mentoring women into heavy vehicle driving careers and renovating old furniture.
What’s the most important thing you do that improves your wellbeing on the road?
There’s no one single panacea when it comes to improving wellbeing on the road but rather a combination of lifestyle choices including getting plenty of rest, eating well (bite-sized superfood snacks are great to keep energy levels high) and staying water hydrated. Keeping in touch with family and friends if doing interstate is also super important.
Health in Gear is about drivers using short, practical tips to improve their wellness. What are you going to try out first?
Learn more about Lyndal by following Women in Trucking Australia!