Truckies share their do's and don'ts of road safety
OVERTAKING, road positioning and stopping distances are some of the key issues addressed in a new series teaching drivers how to behave around trucks.
The information, especially ahead of the high-risk Easter school holidays, is based on key themes highlighted by truckies.
Despite an overall decrease in fatalities, more light vehicle drivers are at fault and more than 80 per cent of fatalities include a heavy vehicle.
Joe Fitzgerald, the corporate affairs director for the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator said the series by Whiteline Television identified the most common safety issues truckies see while working on the road.
"When a light vehicle driver makes a mistake around a heavy vehicle, the consequences can be extremely serious, even fatal," Mr Fitzgerald said.
"I'm concerned that there is no formal requirement to teach new drivers about sharing the road with heavy vehicles. Nor is it a focus for most driver education programs.
"That's why this series of short videos is a great quick and easy way of reminding drivers how to share the road safely during the busy Easter holidays."
The videos were produced by Whiteline Television and funded by the NHVR's Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative, supported by the Commonwealth Government.
Whiteline Television's executive producer Stephen McCarthy said the videos were co-hosted by heavy vehicle safety advocate Rod Hannifey and radio presenter Nicole Rutledge.
"The videos use a combination of on-road scenarios, graphics and animations to explain each tip in a straightforward and down-to-earth way," Mr McCarthy said.
"They were Rod's brainchild, leading on from his driver surveys to identify truckies' top tips.
"It's also great to have Nicole lending her support, because she's from a transport family. Her grandfather and father owned their own transport companies, and her father has been inducted into the National Road Transport Hall of Fame."
THE TOP TIPS FOR SHARING THE ROAD SAFELY
1. Don't cut in front of trucks
A loaded B-double can weigh 40 to 50 times that of the average sedan.
Because of this substantial weight difference, trucks take much longer to stop than a car. Leave plenty of space in front of trucks approaching traffic lights or out on the highway.
2. Do not overtake turning vehicle
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 third lane as needed to safely get around a corner.
3 and 4. Speed limited and being overtaken
The speed that a heavy vehicle can travel is closely governed and by law it is not possible for the driver to increase their speed beyond 100kph.
So assuming a truck has caught up to you it is logical then that the truck is going faster than you and it would make sense for you to allow the truck to pass when it is safe to do so.
As you commute, holiday or drop the kids at school or sport, please remember that for truck drivers the road is their working environment. A bit of patience and courtesy goes a long way.
6. Road positioning
Being aware that where you position your vehicle on the road can help make everyone safer.
Trucks are wide as well as long, so stay to the left of your lane. If you need to pull over, stop well clear of the fog line and use hazard lights.
7. Night driving
High beam glare contributes to night driving fatigue.
Dip your lights before reaching a crest, a curve or as you approach a truck from behind.
Trucks mirrors are much larger, so don't change to high beam until past the truck's mirrors.
Check your headlight alignment regularly, particularly if your car is loaded up, and only use fog lights in fog.
8. Caravans and motorhomes
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, and fitting stickers on the front and rear of your van lets drivers know how to contact you.
9. Overtaking trucks
If you are right behind the truck, you have very little vision.
Be sure you can see enough road ahead before overtaking sensibly.
Don't pull back in until you can see both the truck's headlights-this allows a safe space. Maintain your speed -don't pass and then slow directly in front of the truck.
10. Do not overtake turning vehicles - roundabouts
The "Do not overtake turning vehicles" sign also applies at roundabouts.
Larger trucks often need both lanes.
A common misunderstanding about roundabouts is that you always give way to your right.
In fact, every state dictates that drivers entering a roundabout have to give way to any vehicle that is already on it.
Once stopped, it takes a while for a truck to get going again, so making it stop will slow all the traffic down.
If you arrive at the entrance at a similar time, you could slow a little and let the truck continue its momentum.