Sleep, safety no longer a toll for truckies at Dubbo

A COMPANY, which has trucks rolling through Dubbo day and night, has invested in soundproof accommodation in an effort to deliver those behind the wheels home safely to their families.

Toll signed on to lease a custom-built driver interchange for the next decade so truckies could get the sleep they needed to continue their long journeys along the Newell Highway.

It hopes the investment not only stops crashes involving any of its 180 services through Dubbo each week but also raises the bar for other operators.

Employees who move express parcels, spare parts for mining and other goods for clients of the integrated logistics company have already swapped roadside changeovers for the roomy turning area and other comforts of the new facility in Dubbo's north.

The driver interchange, five years in the pipeline, had become a reality on land owned by Cliff Swane, Toll's Bob Lovf said.

The interchange would make a big difference to the working conditions of the company's skilled "professional operators" he contested as the company's line haul and fleet services general manager.

"It was becoming unsafe to do a changeover on the side of the road north of Dubbo," Mr Lovf said.

The company had previously managed fatigue with the help of two rental houses and permanent bookings for a number of rooms in motels at Dubbo.

It could now offer 24 bedrooms made soundproof by twin airlocks, just right for sleeping undisturbed.

The interchange also boasts a kitchen, outdoor area with barbecues and television and dining rooms.

An employee in a newly-created position manages the facility on site.

Mr Lovf stressed the difference between "compliance and safety".

"We have a philosophy that every accident is avoidable, every injury is avoidable and everyone has the right to go home to their families," he said.

"(The interchange) is a cost, but we think it is the right thing to do and hopefully we will lift the bar for everyone."

The arrangement to lease the facility for at least 10 years suited Toll's commitment to rural areas, Mr Lovf said.

With the completion of its second interchange, Toll will turn its attention to achieving a similar asset in Brisbane.

The company's truck drivers from Dubbo already sleep undisturbed in soundproofed bedrooms at Melbourne on their trips south. Mr Lovf said he was pleased Dubbo MP Troy Grant and Dubbo mayor Mathew Dickerson could attend the opening of the interchange because they had both been supporters of the project.

faye.wheeler@ruralpress.com

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