By the end of 1959 road service calls were totaling up to 10,000 per week. This number of calls required quick and efficient service, so it was planned that the total fleet of J Vans would be replaced by the more modern Morris Minor 1000 van. This new fleet would be fitted with the latest equipment, stored in such a way that it increased patrols’ efficiency.
Again, the number of calls overloaded the available radio network. By the end of 1961, a third radio channel was added to cope with the road service requirements. Inward lines to the call centre were increased by 20 per cent to keep up with the jump in demand and arrangements were made to upgrade the radios to more efficient transistor sets.
By 1966 the in car transceivers were capable of channel switching, allowing for greater accessibility and flexibility in peak periods. By this time, the NRMA also had a fourth radio channel added. The upgrades in communication technology had a positive effect on waiting times: 83 per cent of metropolitan jobs were serviced within 30 minutes.
With over half a million road service calls being taken annually, NRMA was again obliged to modernise its fleet. In 1965 the patrolmen were issued with the most popular car of the day, the legendary Holden panel van. The larger, heavier vehicle was more comfortable for the patrolmen, as well as offering more efficient storage.
During the 1960s the first ‘patrol class’ was held. The course introduced the scope, limits and logistics of practical road service; patrols were taught how to relate to a distressed Member, radio operation and techniques, control room procedure and the sequence used for fault finding.
Funnily enough, the NRMA was initially against the bid for compulsory seat belts. It took the position that its Members could be trusted to drive at safe speeds. However the association did advocate the voluntary addition of seatbelts in cars. It even set an example by installing seatbelts in the entire patrol fleet.
In 1967 a long standing practice was updated. The uniform of the patrolmen now included shorts in the summer. Whilst this casual addition was included in the uniform, the strict presentation of the patrols was still paramount. Shorts were only allowed to be worn as long as a tie and long sock were worn with them. Whilst on the job, patrols were still required to wear a dustcoat over the uniform to ensure they kept clean.
“I took a call from a lady who said she had a hole in her turn slowly. I could not wait to get to this call and find out what part of a vehicle was a ‘turn slowly’.
The lady and a friend were looking intently under the bonnet when I arrived; I hurried over to have a closer look. She certainly did have a hole, and it certainly was in her turn slowly, or radiator cap, to those of us more knowledgeable motor buffs.” Open Road
What do the 60s mean to you? Do you remember the first time you called NRMA?