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Big Rig Rod puts in with truckie tips for safer roads

April 13, 2007
Big Rig Rod puts in with truckie tips for safer roads

Professional Driver of the Year Award winner Rod Hannifey is on a mission to make the roads safer for everyone. His commitment shines through when he delivers Seminars at caravan and camping shows on the subject.

Rod really puts in. He cares enough about keeping roads safer to put his own time into spreading the message about sharing the roads with big trucks.

So here are tips from Rod, one of the truckies 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 dont 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 CANT 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. I would much rather 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.


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.

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

Rod's Top 10 Tips for Caravanning

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 dos and maybes 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 havent 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.

Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey, Road Transport and Road Safety Advocate.

The National Sharing the Road with Heavy Vehicles Program, is a more detailed explanation of these items and is available to spread education on sharing the road with trucks, with the aim of improving safety for all on the road.

Here is a truckie's poem from the road which says it all.

It's is called - Not on sixpence

You cant stop a big rig on sixpence
If only the car drivers knew

With such a long load you gotta have room
It takes just a gear change or two

And -
If I come along to a crossing
For you to walk out when you choose
Just think for a bit - if I have to pull up
Imagine the revs that I loose!

Then -
When I drive along in my Kenworth
I see all the cars weave and duck
They think its all fun but it isnt for me,
I just cant do that in my truck

And -
When you drive along all the back roads
And see the dead animals there
Dont think for a minute that we didnt wish
That we could just give em a scare

Cos -
We cant stop a big rig on sixpence
We need a fair distance for that
As we see roos coming we just grit our teeth
And hope that we dont hear a.splat..

So -
As we roll along all the highways
And look out our window at you
Just give us a wave not the finger
Were doin what we have to do

We cart all the grain for your brekky
We cart all the milk for your tea
We cart all the fruit for your family
We even cart fish from the sea

So -
When you drive along in your auto
And you pull in front of a truck
Just think of whats pushing behind him
Or BOTH of us might need some luck

We cant stop a big rig on sixpence
And when you dont know what youve done
We have to decide how to miss you
And thats when we tend to have fun

Of course theres some cowboys among us
And sometimes we owe it to you
But just try to think of us kindly
Its a hell of a job that we do

- Cheryl(Cill)Van Der Velden

Truckie About The House Rod Hannifey puts his time in the safer roads message
Truckie About The House Rod Hannifey puts his time in the safer roads message