Glossary of Terms
Mode of Transport: means car, 4wd, caravan, trailer, motor bike, bicycle, motor home etc.
Sharing our roads with trucks is important as they are an integral part of our economy. All of us benefit from the deployment of trucks and higher productivity vehicles, as they help us to keep productivity for our local businesses and exporters and to manage moving goods safely.
The information supplied, is critical as federal accident figures say 35% of all truck related auto fatalities occur in truck blind spots. The statistics also show that the majority of collisions between trucks and cars are as a result of an action by the driver of the car. Education is the key to reducing these figures.
Heavy vehicles and their drivers have copped a lot of flack in recent times, and the public’s perception of the trucking industry is not positive.
It’s not surprising that the public is increasingly disillusioned — and scared — about having to share the road alongside heavy vehicles. You have to separate fact from fiction and do not listen to arm chair experts.
“In making these unfounded and anecdotal claims, some of us have offended the vast majority of hard working, law-abiding drivers in the industry, and particularly the long-distance sector, that go about their duties with the utmost professionalism”.
There are many types of large vehicles on the road. Know how to identify them, by using our guide below and you can anticipate what to expect when you are on the road with them.
Road trains are exceedingly long vehicles and you will find them on the Nullabor and heading from Western Australia into South Australia, Melbourne or Queensland. They generally are not used in NSW.
Do not listen to the scary stories people tell you about road trains. When we travelled Australia, we found the road trains to be courteous if you follow a few rules as set out below.
COMMON TRUCK TYPES
RIGID: 12.5 metres long, speed limited to 100 km/hr
RIGID AND DOG: 19 metres long, speed limited to 100 km/hr
SEMI TRAILER: 19 metres long, speed limited to 100 km/hr
B DOUBLE: 26 metres long, speed limited to 100 km/hr
Long Vehicle Sign at rear
TRIPLE ROAD TRAIN: 53.5 metres long, speed limited to 100 km/hr, Road Train sign at rear
Speed Limited to 100kms
Speed limits, when referring to trucks means that no engine power is delivered above 100kms an hour. However, gravity can still push a truck faster downhill. Truck drivers like to be at maximum legal speed as they approach hills to lessen traffic delays, but if they slow as they travel uphill or overtake, they are doing the best that they can.
Oversize trucks are wider, longer or higher than a normal truck, or they can be a combination of these. They have an orange light that flashes and are sometimes also escorted in front and/or behind, so allow extra room to overtake.
If an Escort Vehicle, usually a car or 4WD approaches you carrying the ‘OVERSIZE LOAD AHEAD” sign be prepared to move over, slow down or stop, since following close behind will be a truck that is some combination of very long, high, wide or heavy. The pilot vehicle escorting this over-size truck may even flag you down and warn you to pull off the road as the truck requires the whole road width. When you are in the remote parts of Australia, you will still find these oversize loads, especially when you are in mining areas.
DO NOT CUT IN FRONT OF A TRUCK
It’s dangerous to cut into a gap in front of a truck as they slow for traffic lights or when on the highway. For every 5 km/h a truck travels, it needs a space equivalent to its length to stop. That is a lot of space, especially if the truck is doing the speed limited of 100 km/h.
Cars are obviously smaller and faster and tend to pull in front of trucks to get ahead, but what they don’t realise is that they have left that space for a reason. Every time a car does this, they have to pull back to create that space again so that they can stop safely. When cars keep taking up the gap, it makes it difficult for them to maintain a safe following distance.
So, it is important to allow truck drivers plenty of space on the road as they need longer stopping distances. It is also important for truck drivers to keep a safe following distance.
DO NOT OVERTAKE TURNING VEHICLE
The sign “Do not overtake turning vehicle” on the back of trucks, warns you that the truck needs more room when it turns and can legally turn from the centre lane. Do not move into the trucks blind spot to the left when it turns. If you cannot see the drivers face in their mirrors, they cannot see you.
This sign also applies at roundabouts as well. Larger trucks need to make turns and often need the entire road. Truck drivers try to anticipate traffic flow at roundabouts to avoid stopping, so the truck is not trying to race you onto the roundabout, the driver is simply trying to facilitate the smooth flow of traffic. If the truck has to stop, a slow start can cause a traffic jam.
WHAT DO YOU DO IF A TRUCK WANTS TO OVERTAKE
If you see a truck in the distance behind you, plan to slow down a little to allow the truck to pass. Do not wait until the last minute. You will not allow the driver, to maintain the momentum they need to overtake you, if the driver has to brake behind you, as they wait for their opportunity to pass.
There is certainly some bad language emitted from some truckies on Channel 40, however this is one of the most important UHF channels when travelling the major highways.
When you notice a truck/semi catching up behind you, switch to Channel 40, if you have a UHF and call the driver and let them know you are there. Communicate to the driver, that you are prepared to let him overtake as soon as it is safe to do so. He will appreciate your communication and will often sit patiently behind you until safe to overtake, rather than try to get around at the earliest opportunity.
Don’t move left, especially if you are towing a caravan or trailer, it only makes controlling your caravan/trailer more difficult.
When the truck starts to pull along side your mode of transport, you will feel the wind buffeting you. You will also feel it push you along until the rear of the truck has passed you. Keep as far left as practical and safely as possible and maintain your speed (even with just a little power on to keep your mode of transport straight).
DO NOT HIT THE BRAKE. After the truck has cleared the front of your vehicle and it is safe for him to pull back in, give him a courtesy flash with your headlights or an “all clear” on the UHF. This is particularly important in wet weather as often the driver’s left hand mirror can be obscured with mud and dust making it difficult for the driver to judge when they have safely pass you.
Remember the driver is on the wrong side of the road and is anxious to bring their rig back in safely as quickly as possible.
WHAT DO YOU DO, IF YOU WANT TO OVERTAKE A TRUCK
Heavy vehicles are large and slow and not very manoeuvrable.
Overtaking these vehicles can be dangerous. The rear trailer can often obstruct vision on the road ahead and can sway side to side over the road. Some drivers may get impatient and overtake when they have no view of the road ahead.
When overtaking - take care at all times and try to, when an overtaking lane is coming up, rather than rush out. The old saying “if you can’t see, don’t pass”.
Never over take a truck down a hill, as they build up a lot of momentum.
When you come up behind a truck, as with any vehicle, dip your lights early as truck mirrors are large and don’t have an anti-glare position.