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
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.
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.
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