Perfect Match

Female truck driver and social media star, Casuarina Smith, is advocating for better road safety, diversity and an uptake in younger drivers now with the help of automotive lighting specialist, HELLA Australia.
Casuarina Smith.

Known as ‘Trucking With CJ’ online through her social media platforms, Casuarina Smith was always destined to drive heavy vehicles.

But, although she had a warm introduction to the transport industry from a young age thanks to her father, a farmer turned truck driver, she didn’t find her feet in transport straight away.

Prior to joining the industry, Casuarina was an insurance broker for seven years. Yet a desire to escape the nine-to-five office lifestyle coupled with her love for trucks, which was developed during her upbringing, saw Casuarina give her corporate career up to join her sister in driving them.

“I just wanted to get out of an office,” she says.

“I used to work right on the Brisbane River, and from my window I’d watch all the trucks driving down the road. I would be like, ‘Man that must be so nice. They’re out in the nice weather and I’m stuck in this office with only a half-an-hour break.’”

That was when her sister had first started driving.

Casuarina would call her on the phone and learn of what she was up to and the interesting place she was at or on her way to.

“I was just so envious of the freedom that she got,” recalls Casuarina. “I wanted a work environment where I could get out to different places and be more hands on in my day-to-day work.”

Casuarina had already gotten her heavy rigid truck license many years before, so she was able to get straight into the job.

She started by driving concrete mixers, and after a stint living overseas, she came back home and moved on to roadtrains.

From there, Casuarina started creating videos about what her life as a truck driver was like. And, as more people discovered her content, her channels continued to grow.

‘Trucking With CJ’ now has a following of more than 74,000 people on Instagram and over 25,000 people on TikTok who watch Casuarina’s life as a fly-in-fly-out truck driver for Merkanooka Haulage in Western Australia.

In its own effort to reach the next generation of truck drivers, HELLA Australia made the decision to collaborate with Casuarina and bring her on board as a brand ambassador.

When the team came across ‘Trucking With CJ’, it was evident that Casuarina was exactly what they were looking for — someone who saw the value and took the time to educate not only her viewers but herself on the various aspects of truck driving and the importance safety plays on the roads.

In addition, HELLA Australia noticed that she was a great role model for people to look up to, in particular younger girls, to see that anything is possible.

As a brand focused on quality, education and delivering more than just a product to the market, Senior Marketing Specialist, Priska Zihlmann, says HELLA Australia is driving technology in an industry that, behind the scenes, is keeping Australia moving safely.

Casuarina in Western Australia working for Merkanooka Haulage.

“Seeing the next generation connecting with Casuarina’s journey and the passion shared for a genuinely amazing industry, supporting Casuarina with her educational content and reaching the next generation of professional drivers was a simple decision,” she says.

“Casuarina’s attitude towards the industry and her approach in educating people with everything she’s talked about resonates exactly with how HELLA approaches things. We’re all about the quality and reliability of our products, services and operations, and with truly dedicated people, we want to enhance safety for all road users. I think we both aligned really well in that sense.”

Beyond equipping vehicles with the right tools and technologies to enhance safety, HELLA Australia also understands the importance of fostering a culture of safety among drivers.

While Casuarina’s content typically involves general tips, tricks and lessons that she has learnt along the way, it has a strong focus on safety.

That being said, Casuarina is making the most out of her position and is using her platforms to encourage all road users to take extra care when sharing the road with heavy vehicles.

“I try and do videos of what I can see from my point of view, because some of my followers don’t actually drive trucks and don’t ever intend on driving trucks, but they are learning,” she says.

“I get quite a lot of messages from people that will say things like, ‘I had no idea what a blind spot was’, or ‘Now I know not to do this’. I had one person who told me that he sat down with his whole family the night before and watched my videos, and that they now know what to look out for when driving around heavy vehicles. Having those interactions and feedback means the world to me.”

As part of this, Casuarina has been very committed to bridging the gap between everyday road users and truck drivers.

“I want to show the general public the fear that comes from a truck driver,” she says.

“None of us want to scare a car, none of us want to hit anyone and no one wants to be involved in an accident. By highlighting these risks from the point of view of a truck driver, I hope we can increase awareness. People just don’t know what they don’t know, so I’m hoping that if we can educate and connect with people maybe it will be a bit safer out there. We just need to make people more aware of the elements of safety out on the roads.”

In one of her recent posts, Casuarina asked truck drivers to share what they wished for the general public to know.

She received responses about braking distances, blind spots and dangerous instances such as drivers speeding up to get around trucks and then braking in front of them.

Through her videos, Casuarina is also working on shifting the misconception that a truck driver is not a viable career option.

“I think it’s just about raising the awareness, and the benefit of social media is that we can come together as people to try and figure out what the messaging is for that and spread it to a wider audience,” she says.

“I remember in high school teachers would tell us, ‘You better study, otherwise what are you going to be, a truck driver?’ as if it’s a last resort. People shouldn’t be giving it that reputation. Without trucks, Australia stops. Everything you get has been delivered at some stage by a truck or the transport industry, so why are we trying to make it out as if it’s a dirty industry? It doesn’t need to be that way.”

As part of the collaboration with HELLA Australia, the team is supporting Casuarina in an upcoming journey across Australia.

Her favourite truck, a Kenworth T909 dubbed ‘The Moth’, will be fitted with a range of lighting products from HELLA.

“In our meetings, we’ve been talking about the different types of lights I could use and how we can decorate the truck to align with the colour scheme,” Casuarina says.

“It’s been great to go back and forth with their product managers to learn about the different lighting options and decide on what lights will work best for me, and how they will maximise my visibility while still looking great. I could say, for example, ‘That one to me is too circular. How about we do this?’ and they said, ‘Okay, well if it’s that important to you, we can put this on here.’ It was just great to be able to have those discussions with them and develop my knowledge at the same time.”

To be endorsed by such a large and well-recognised brand like HELLA Australia, Casuarina says, is very humbling.

“I had this passion for the project in my head, but I wasn’t sure how it would be received,” she says.

“I’m a big dreamer and I want to bring my vision to life, so to be approached by HELLA Australia and to be recognised for all the hard work behind the scenes means a lot.

“I’m so stoked this has resonated with HELLA Australia and that they have seen the value in my work. There’s so much more to share and I can’t wait to get going.”

HELLA Australia has partnered with Casuarina who is now a brand ambassador.
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