When you’re travelling on the open highway, be mindful you are not the only ones out there and some people make a living driving every day.
Most people don’t like being interrupted or inconvenienced at work and that also applies to truck drivers.
When you’re on the highways regularly check your mirrors at least every 60 seconds. It’s surprising how much distance someone can catch you up in that time.
If you’re going to be on the road for quite a while a UHF radio is a great investment. By monitoring channel 40 you can converse with truck drivers and help them get around you. Be mindful this is a truck/semi/roadtrain drivers’ channel so random conversations with others are not appropriate.
Maintain your speed. The truck driver will sit behind you and pull out when they can see its safe for them to do so. They will know at your speed how long and how far it’s going to take them to overtake you. Once they begin to overtake, you slowing down is going to make it safer for all parties.
Once the truck has safely passed give your headlights a couple of long one-second flashes to indicate they can come back into the left hand lane.
If you use a shared rest stop, pull over to one side so trucks can easily drive through. If you see a driver walking around their truck/semi/roadtrain, say g’day as most appreciate a chat. If you have the kettle on, offer them a cuppa but if the truck is locked up and the driver sleeping do not disturb them. This applies to running generators while a driver is trying to sleep. Just remember, you’re on holiday and they are working.
SHARING THE ROAD WITH BIG RIGS
by Derek Nathan Vice President WA Road Transport Association
- KEEP LEFT:
- Stay as near as practical to the left, but do not drop off the bitumen. This allows the traffic coming from behind to see ahead and also reduces the wind buffeting from passing trucks.
- KEEP YOUR DISTANCE:
- It is very dangerous to tailgate. You should always be at least 3 seconds behind the vehicle in front and leave plenty of room so that passing vehicles can slot in between you and the next vehicle.
- INDICATE YOUR INTENTIONS:
- Always show your intentions early when turning left / right /stopping etc, especially when being followed by a truck. They need extra time and space to slow down.
- When passing a truck or a road train, remember to make sure you have plenty of clear road ahead, as it could take up to 30 seconds to pass a triple road train which is up to 53.5 metres long. Be prepared for wind buffeting. Preferably flash your headlights or call the driver on the CB radio to indicate your intentions. Make sure you use your indicators to let other drivers know what you are doing and make sure you are well clear of the vehicle you have just passed before returning to the left side of the road. If you are passing on the left side of dual carriageway, remember the driver often has a blind spot towards the front of the truck.
- TURNING TRAILER:
- Remember a turning semi trailer or road train has a much greater sweep path than you, so please hang well back and give them plenty of room…the driver will really appreciate it. It is quite legal for a long vehicle to turn left from the centre of the road if necessary.
- TRUCKS BRAKING OR ACCELERATING:
- Be aware, trucks need more space to stop, so please don’t cut in front of them at stop signs, traffic lights, round abouts etc and yes it does take a little longer to get going again so please be patient.
- REVERSING TRUCKS:
- Leave or give the truck driver plenty of room as they cannot see much more than what is in their mirror. Where possible, always stay in sight of the driver’s mirrors and remember if you can’t see the driver’s mirrors, then there is a good chance he can’t see you.
- ROAD TRAINS APPROACHING FROM THE REAR:
- It is very important that you maintain your present speed and stay on the bitumen at all times. By all means call the driver on channel 40 and let him/her know that you are aware, they are behind you and to let you know when they are about to pass. Wait until the road train is well and truly in the right hand lane and then if you wish, slow down and let the road train pass quickly. When the last trailer is well clear, flash your headlights or call the driver on the radio to let him/her know it is safe to pull back into the left lane.
- WIND BUFFETING:
- Always be aware of the weather conditions, especially which way the wind is blowing. If the wind is blowing from the right to left you will often experience wind buffeting. If you are being overtaken by a road train you will often be drawn in towards the road train….Be prepared.
- Travelling with headlights on is an excellent idea. Make sure they are adjusted correctly. Using fog lights during the day or night when it is not necessary is not a good idea as they are usually focused straight ahead and can be bright on approaching traffic. Under the Traffic code Reg 183, it is an offence to use fog lights when they are not required.
- MIXING WITH OVERSIZE VEHICLES:
- How do you recognise what size load is coming towards you? Trucks displaying headlights, orange flashing lights and an oversize sign will be between 2.5m and 3.5m wide. “What to do?” Move well left but stay on the road and use caution. Loads over 3.5m and up to 4.5m wide will always have a Pilot vehicle out in front, unless you are on a multi lane road when they could be at the rear. “What to do?” Slow down and move well to the left. If the road is not very wide, you will need to drop off the bitumen. If in doubt, call the Pilot on channel 40, they will instruct what you need to do. If the load is over 4.5m wide, there will be 2 pilots supervising the load. ” What to do?” The best plan is to find a place you can safely pull right off the road and STOP until the load has passed. If you see a Pilot vehicle coming towards you, displaying alternating flashing white lights called wigwam lights you will know the load is going to be5.5m wide or more and may be accompanied by a Traffic Warden displaying blue and red flashing lights. You must obey the pilots/ Traffic wardens instructions at all times as when it comes to traffic supervision they do have the powers of a Policeman. Remember that wide loads are allowed to travel in pairs so always make sure the loads have passed before moving off. Monitor channel 40 and if in doubt ask the Pilot what to do. As a general rule the more flashing lights you can see, the wider the load. It could be 8m or more…get right off the road and get your camera ready!! If you are approaching a wide load from the rear, make contact with the pilot and follow his/her instructions.
Don’t be frightened to talk to the Truckies on the CB Radio as more often than not, they enjoy talking to you about your travels. Caravanners usually communicate on Channel 18 and the truckies on Channel 40. Always have someone else change the channels (if possible) and don’t get distracted while driving.