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.
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.
Like you, truckies want to get home safely to their families, so let's share the road.
Rod's Top 10 Tips for Caravanning
Truckie About The House Rod Hannifey puts his time in the safer roads message