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Here are tips from behind the wheel in a Big Rig hot-seat, on how to give everybody a fair go. 

January 22, 2016
Here are tips from behind the wheel in a Big Rig hot-seat, on how to give everybody a fair go.

1. Please don't cut in front of trucks approaching traffic lights or out on the highway. Allow safe road space for the trucks' size.

A loaded B-Double can weigh 40 to 50 times that of the average sedan; don't risk being hit. Simple physics means trucks take more distance to stop. As a pedestrian you wouldn't step out in front of a bus, so don't do it in your car, with a truck.

2. The "DO NOT OVERTAKE TURNING VEHICLE" sign on the rear of vehicles over 7.5 metres in length, allows them to legally turn from the second or even the third lane as needed, to safely get round a corner. Stay back ; don't move into the blind spot to the left and rear of the truck cab. Please Remember - IF YOU CAN'T SEE THE TRUCKDRIVER, HE CAN'T SEE YOU.

3. If you are being passed by a truck don't allow your speed to increase, this only increases the time involved. If anything, ease up on the accelerator and by helping the truck pass safely you improve your own safety as well. A flash of the headlights tells the truckie when it's safe to move back in.

4. Speed limiting means no engine power above 100 km/hr, though gravity can push us faster downhill. A truck will hope to be at the legal speed limit approaching the bottom of a hill to lessen delays to all traffic, but if slow uphill or when overtaking, we are doing the best we can.

5. Road courtesy and a bit of patience may save your life; it could also prevent road rage. Better a wave of thanks, than a shaken fist. Improved driver education and awareness of heavy vehicles, can only improve safety for all road users.

6. Road positioning - A truck uses all of its lane space, do not travel right on the centre line, use the road width available, to give you space between opposing traffic. If stopped or broken down, where possible park well clear of the roadway. 10 centimetres past the fog line (the unbroken line on the left) is not safe for you or your car.

Use hazard lights and ensure headlights are dipped or off at night, to be able to be seen safely. Safety triangles can be a worthwhile investment.

7. High beam glare contributes to night driving fatigue. Dip when flashed, or before reaching a crest or curve, don't blind, then dip. Trucks mirrors are much larger and have no anti-glare position, dip early when behind trucks and when overtaking, don't move to high beam until past the trucks mirrors.

Please check headlight alignment regularly, particularly if loaded up on long trips and only use fog lights in fog, they can be more of a hazard at other times.

8. Caravans - When being overtaken, maintain speed and position, only slow when the truck has moved out to pass. Quality mirrors, towing hitches and good advice are priceless. A CB or UHF radio can also be worthwhile. WE FULLY SUPPORT THE IDEA AND BENEFITS OF CARAVAN CB, UHF 18 AND CB 18 and the fitting of Caravan CB stickers on the front and rear of your van.

9. Safe overtaking: 1. If you are right on the back of the truck you have very little vision, stay back allowing you to see better. 2. Be sure you can see enough road to pass safely. 3. Pass quickly but sensibly. 4. Don't pull back in until you see both the trucks headlights in your rearview mirror, this allows a safe space. 5. Maintain your speed, don't pass and then slow directly in front of the truck. To take a large risk for a gain of a couple of minutes is unsafe and often unnecessary.

PLEASE, IF YOU CAN'T SEE, DON'T PASS.

10. Roundabouts - The 'DO NOT OVERTAKE TURNING VEHICLE' sign applies, so please stay back. Larger trucks often need all of the roadway. The truck isn't racing you into the roundabout; it is trying to fit in, to avoid a much slower start and movement through, which can often further delay or stop, all traffic.

Remember, every item you buy or use is carried on a truck at sometime.

There are Road Trains and ROAD TRAINS
There are Road Trains and ROAD TRAINS

Like you, truckies want to get home safely to their families, so let's share the road.

1. Planning of your equipment purchase, unit compatibility and suitability is essential. Do your skills need upgrading for a new or bigger unit? Next is a plan of trip 'must do's' and 'maybe's' as part of route, destination and timeframe requirements. Only you know how flexible your time is and what is most important to the trip. This is better done early, rather than afterwards realising you have missed something worthwhile.

2. Seek knowledge on dedicated caravanning and RV web sites, in specialist magazines, tourist brochures, clubs and from other caravanners.

3. Confirm this with others and by your own experience. By joining a caravan or four wheel drive club, you may find others who have been there and done that and most are happy to tell of their experiences.

4. Equipment and extras. Do you need to purchase and or upgrade tow bar, hitches, mirrors and other ancillary equipment? Consider fitting a CB or UHF.

5. Trip Preparation. Make a checklist. The bigger the trip, the bigger the checklist needs to be. Use it when you do your check the weight of your towing combination when it is loaded.

6. Ensure secure loading and correct weight distribution. Check weigh your unit fully loaded, well before you plan to leave, to allow you to make adjustments if necessary and ensure everything fits and stays put, till you get it right. Keep heavy items lower down and secure any loose items. Confirm compliance with all operating requirements, van and vehicle maximum weights and towball weight, 10% recommended. Last thing before you plan to leave, is a service for tow vehicle and caravan.

7. On road skills. Practise with a few short trips, at least one with a friend or more experienced caravanner. Consider a caravan course. Plan regular breaks and walk around your vehicle at each stop to check tyres and towing equipment. If you are holding up following traffic, move off where safe, to allow them to pass.

8. Trucks. Respect the size and weight of trucks. Share the road. You are holidaying, they are working, and each is done at a different pace.

9. Caravan CB Join in. Fit a CB and or UHF if you haven't already. Put stickers on your van, front and rear, for Channel 18. Talk with other vanners and truckies and improve on road safety and communication.

Promote the concept if you agree. Your names on the back, further promote on road contact and information.

10. Enjoy yourself. If you find a problem, seek help from others to solve or lessen it and then, share your knowledge and experience with others, to help them overcome pitfalls you have found. Travel safely at your own pace, but consider all other road users. Not everyone shares your lack of time pressures.

Editor's Note:

Truck safety advocate and Truckie of the Year Rod Hannifey returned to the VictorianSupershow Seminar scene in Melbourne to present his Sharing the Road with Trucks seminar. He is the source of the tips in this CIA Vic backed Information Article.

Rod is extremely passionate about improving road safety for all and improving the relationship between trucks and other road users.

Acknowledgement This Information Article is provided through the support of generous sponsor Caravan Industry Association of Victoria (CIA Vic.). This support covers story research costs.

It is because of sponsors like CIA Vic. that an extensive library of free Information Articles is available to help users Go Make Some Memories. Click to find road touring destinations two and three hours from Melbourne. Go Make Some Memories

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Wet season road train roulette near Darwin NT

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