I think I remember telling you before that we don’t just park the truck up and fall asleep with a load like this one, well any big load to be honest. In case I didn’t I’ll give you a bit of a run down.
As with any time we are coming to a stop, or going off the paved road surface, we slow down and slow down to very slow speeds, the parking area we were stopping at may have been recently graded to smooth out any pot holes but we took no chances on the rocky surface.
Before I steered left toward the open parking area I slowed the truck down to less than twenty kilometres per hour. Corey and I were in constant communication and he knew as soon as I did that I was gearing back and slowing down, at the same time he followed suit and slowed his truck down as well. As long as we were off the road and not impeding traffic in anyway the road corp didn’t care where we parked and neither did the police, in fact once we’d finished what we needed to do they’d all disappear until 8pm that night when we got to do it all again.
Over the radio calls of “Bring ‘er over to the left a bit more.”, “Keep it coming Matt.” and “Ten more metres should do us,” could be heard. Even through I had parked a rig in a similar spot plenty of times before I still let myself be guided by the the walkers and those outside the vehicle, that was their job and they did it for a reason.
“That should do you there, Matt.” Angus called over the radio.
I put my foot on the brake and brought the big load to a standstill, although I couldn’t see it from where I was seated I knew a plume of dust would be bellowing out from under the trailer and the dolly from the air brakes operating.
The first thing I did once the truck was stopped was radio to the boys that we were stopped and parked, obviously they could see that with their own eyes but it was one of the safety things we always did. No walker, or worker, was permitted to be on the load on under it while it had the potential to be moving, “stopped and parked” gave the entire team the notification they needed to let them know things weren’t going to move again. My comment was then followed with the push truck saying the same thing when their engine was turned off.
“Roger that Matt, stopped and parked.” Came Corey’s response a few seconds later, it’s one of the few times we actually use the word roger to agree.
The second thing I did after we stopped was let out a huge sigh, I know that sounds a bit strange, kind of like I was holding my breath all night, but it actually happens. I’ve have consciously stopped the truck and tried not to let out that huge breath before climbing out of the truck but it keeps happening, I guess it’s my brain’s way of telling me the trip is over and I can finally relax.
The third thing I did was reach for my bag and pull out my log book. Because working time must also take into account the time spent around a load and working on the load or truck I couldn’t fill the log book out with the full details, they would come when I finally went to sleep for the night, but I could fill it out with the driving portion of those details. I filled in what I could and replaced the log book back in my bag then reached for the door handle of the truck and climbed out to the ground.
The first thing I noticed when I stepped down was how bright it was, I know that too sounds a bit strange because I’d been driving into a dawning day since we brought the rig up the exit ramp and onto the freeway but it’s true. I knew it was day light and I knew the clock was saying it was close to 5am but because of cabin lights, flashing lights and tinted windows, not the windscreen obviously, the day didn’t look as bright from the cabin as it did from outside. Without the filter of the windscreen and the side tinted window the pre-dawn light nearly made my eyes sting, in fact there was little tears in my eyes.
Even though we’d only travelled about nine kilometres since I was last out of the truck I still stood on that gravel surface and stretched. I reached up to the sky lengthening my back muscles, I then twisted at the hips, left, right then left again, I even stretched and shook my legs and feet. It was good to be out of the truck.
Even before I finished my stretching some of the other guys were going around the truck doing the final checks we needed to do before calling it quits. Of course they checked the tie downs, the ratchets, the safety flags and beacons and the load itself, that was par for the course. Phil and I walked down the right hand side of the truck, eyes on everything but happy to let the other guys do their jobs too. The last job we did was lower the trailer down to it’s lowest point with the hydraulic motors, for a rest of ten hours like we were going to give it it made sense not to be sitting on the jacks.
Because we were headed away from the city we had special compensations to get the load on the road again by 2pm. We’d clear the main part of the freeway before peak hour traffic arrived on our tail, but most of all it meant that we’d be able to get enough rest to satisfy our log books for another eight hour shift. If all went to plan by 10pm we’d be well out of town in a truck pull over on the regional highway and getting ourselves some shut eye before we shifted to what would essentially be a day shift roster which would see us back on the road around 8am.
Previous Heavy Haulage story here.