Licence to be tormented
Car drivers are among the challenges for the heavy vehicle pilots
A LITTLE hand pops out of the rear window of the Holden Commodore that has just sped past after being held up by my truck.
Then I notice the hand forms so the middle finger is extended. I spot the booster seat of the gesticulator and realise a child no older than seven has just flipped me the bird.
I laugh, then wonder what the driver, presumably the parent, said to prompt a little kid to give me the finger.
The fact is that I did nothing wrong. I simply took up two lanes approaching a roundabout so I could make it around without riding over a kerb. They call this lane splitting and it is totally legal, even if it delays and frustrates some other motorists.
This incident happens during a training session I’m taking before I go for my heavy-combination licence.
I already have my heavyrigid licence, which allows me to drive pretty much anything without a swivelling trailer, and now it is time for the HC licence that will allow me to drive semi-trailers.
I’ve already done plenty of kilometres with single and B-double combinations, but only with a qualified instructor on board. Still, I’m a little nervous in the lead-up to the test.
This is partly because it costs $1450 for a single-day course and a test the next day. If I so much as kiss a kerb or glance a roundabout I’ll fail instantly.
I think it would be great if all motorists went for their HC licence.
Not so they can drive trucks, but just because it would give them an idea what it’s like to drive a truck along tight suburban streets in traffic and what it’s like to put up with some car drivers.
I’m driving a big Kenworth 608 with a trailer on a tight street and as we approach a roundabout, my instructor suggests I take up two lanes just before a left hand turn in order to keep the truck off the kerbs.
It makes sense when you think about it but the motorists around me don’t appear to be thinking. They certainly don’t seem to consider the geometry involved in getting the big truck around a sharp bend.
The rather large ‘‘ Do Not Overtake Turning Vehicle’’ sign on the back of the truck appears to have had no impact either as cars start to stream up to the left of me.
I had taken up a decent chunk of the lane to try to prevent this but the cars seem desperate, driving half on the road and half on a raised gutter.
It is incredible. Part of me wants to continue around the corner and crunch them off the road. But I’d never do it. I just have to wait for them to go.
The test is quite straightforward.
It includes backing into a loading bay, which is located on the other corner of the parking lot. This puts your reversing skills to the test.
Then you must couple a trailer, which includes reversing to connect the trailer to the truck and going through the process of ensuring it is safely secured and the air lines are connected, along with the wiring lines.
It’s a challenge but the daunting part is the road test. Even with the impatient car drivers nipping around my truck and trailer, I keep my cool and keep the truck off all the kerbs and roundabouts, which are remarkably tight in this Melbourne suburb.
I do most things right, but do wander out of my lane a few times and lose a few points. The pass mark is 80 per cent and I manage 93. A lot of drivers have done better but it doesn’t matter to me, I have a new licence in my hot little hands.
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