EXCRUCIATING boredom is one of the biggest challenges truck drivers like Mick Mountain must combat during long-haul trips.
The mind can easily wander during an 11-hour stint behind the wheel of a B-double travelling back and forth between Sydney and Brisbane.
But Mr Mountain, who has been driving trucks for 40 years, has adopted a “novel” idea to ensure both his safety and that of his fellow road users.
The 62-year-old Tamworth truckie is a ferocious consumer of electronic audiobooks downloaded free from the Central Northern Regional Library’s website. He estimates he has listened to more than 400 books, which to purchase would have cost many thousands of dollars, over the past two years.
“Sitting in these things for 11 hours does get very boring and unless your mind’s occupied, you can sort of go off into a trance,” he said.
“So I reckon it does help a lot to keep you alert. You do think, what did I ever do to pass the time? And then you realise how lucky you are now to have a service like this.” Mr Mountain, who dabbled with growing with frustration with CD audiobooks, said it took just minutes to download the digital files from the site and load them all onto a flash drive.
“With discs you have to take your eyes off the road to put them in the unit or back in the cover, which is a little bit unsafe,” he said.
“And there’s nothing worse than getting right into a story and coming across a damaged disc and not being able to follow it through to the end.”
Tamworth Regional Council Library services manager Kay Delahunt said the Bolinda e-audio service was being taken up enthusiastically by locals.
In fact, usage through the Central Northern Regional Library is the second highest in the entire country.
“The e-audio service has proved a bonus for housebound clients who receive home library service,” she said.
“Library volunteers download the titles and these are delivered to the clients on a USB stick ready for playing on their home computer or MP3 player.”