Tak­ing the top tips

Car­a­vans in­ter­act­ing with trucks on Aus­tralia’s high­ways can cause angst from both par­ties, but a lit­tle ed­u­ca­tion could calm the con­flict, writes Rod Han­nifey

Owner Driver - - Owner / Driver -

LAST MONTH, I turned 60 and the Truck­Right In­dus­try Ve­hi­cle (TIV) Ken­worth K200, owned by Rod Pilon Trans­port, turned six, just reach­ing 1.2 mil­lion kilo­me­tres. Nei­ther of us is get­ting any younger, but I be­lieve we both still have some­thing to con­trib­ute. What do you think?

Out­side of the TIV and the Aus­tralian Truck­ing As­so­ci­a­tion’s (ATA) Mobile Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre that tours schools and events, there is lit­tle else on the road that pro­motes our in­dus­try and road safety.

Un­der the re­cent Na­tional Heavy Ve­hi­cle Reg­u­la­tor ( NHVR) and Fed­eral Road Safety Fund­ing pack­age, I also ap­plied for fund­ing to do videos on ‘Shar­ing the Road with Trucks’ and planned to base these on the Truck­ies Top Ten Tips (TTTT) I have been us­ing for nearly 20 years.

These tips came from a sur­vey among then Finemore driv­ers and a sec­ond sur­vey through Owner//

Driver magazine as well. Dur­ing 1999, driv­ers were asked: “What is it we need to teach car driv­ers to safely share the road with trucks?” The an­swers were col­lated and ar­ranged in the or­der of most re­sponse.

That has led to the tips be­ing used and pro­moted on many car and car­a­van web­sites, and car­a­van club magazines. I of­fered them to the ATA and it used them to set up the games in the Mobile Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre. The ATA changed them slightly now in its ‘Truck­ies Top Ten Tips’, but never recog­nised my con­tri­bu­tion. How­ever, the aim has al­ways been that the more peo­ple they reach, the bet­ter.

I have ex­panded the TTTT into news­pa­per col­umns as the Na­tional Shar­ing the Road with Trucks Pro­gram and also fo­cused them into con­cise tips, one of which is al­ways on the back of the TIV in ro­ta­tion.

ROAD SHAR­ING

I have spo­ken with NHVR and it seems many oth­ers sought fund­ing and also now want to do some­thing about shar­ing the road with trucks. Again, I wel­come them all. The more the merrier as I have been try­ing for years to get any­one to lis­ten.

The then NSW Road Trans­port Author­ity was go­ing to do some­thing years ago af­ter my ap­proach, but it went from group to group and never got started, let alone com­pleted. I just hope it gets done sooner rather than later; I will help to see it hap­pen.

Since my last col­umn men­tion­ing the car­a­van video, I have been ap­proached by a num­ber of peo­ple and groups want­ing to see and use it. Our cur­rent aim is to have it vet­ted by car­a­van­ners at a show I have been in­vited to in Mudgee. If deemed fair and valu­able, we will launch it then.

The other side of that ef­fort is what we do on the road. The fol­low­ing in­ci­dent oc­curred on the Newell and the driver in­volved will recog­nise him­self and likely me, but I don’t know him or who he works for and the only in­tent here is to try and help us to help our­selves. My­self ask­ing ’van­ners to help us will go nowhere if we con­tinue to do the wrong thing in rest ar­eas or on the road.

DAN­GER­OUS IN­CI­DENT

We got stopped south­bound on Tap Hill at the road works – a num­ber of cars, two pop-top vans, a B-dou­ble, then me. On the south­ern side of Tooraweenah, we were all still roughly to­gether and in line un­til the long straight. The B-dou­ble passed the first van with good room and then as he went to over­take the sec­ond, even though I was back a bit, I could see the on­com­ing car over the next slight crest as the B-dou­ble pulled out. I thought this does not look good, but be­ing far­ther back it seemed he must be far­ther away than I thought.

Not so. All three were side by side on the crest, the truck in the mid­dle and the cars off the sides. The north­bound car called up on 40 say­ing, “Are you try­ing to kill some­one?” The truckie as­sum­ing it was me, said, “Is that you in the Aero­dyne?” to which I re­sponded, “No it was the car you just ran off the road.” The truckie then said, “Well, what am I sup­posed to do when the van ac­cel­er­ates when I go to over­take.” I replied, “I was in the same po­si­tion half an hour ago in the Pil­liga, but I had more room.” This was true.

The van I had caught was do­ing 80km/h; then 85 and went up to 90 when we got to a long straight. When I flashed him and pulled out, he stayed there as I crawled past. A car ap­peared in the dis­tance and I in­di­cated to tell the van I was com­ing back and he slowed and even flashed me in.

We all un­der­stand the frus­tra­tion and have been in the same po­si­tion, but pulling out know­ing you don’t have a snowflake’s chance of get­ting past safely will never end well.

Luck­ily no one was in­jured but a few min­utes later the truckie called again. “Look at this, the ’van­ner can now sit up my arse at 100 and tail­gate me,” he said. My thought was he was prob­a­bly aim­ing to get the truck rego and ring the po­lice or such. I don’t know what hap­pened as they got away from me and I never saw them again.

How we all be­have will have an enor­mous im­pact on whether we get ’van­ners to re­spect our needs in rest ar­eas and, per­haps, even have some em­pa­thy for us on the road.

I ask that you recog­nise most don’t un­der­stand trucks and abus­ing them by ra­dio or run­ning them off the road will at best make our jobs harder and at worst could kill some­one. Please give it some thought.

“Are you try­ing to kill some­one?”

The Rod Pilon Trans­port-owned Ken­worth K200 Truck­Right In­dus­try Ve­hi­cle has clocked up 1.2 mil­lion kilo­me­tres

ROD HAN­NIFEY

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