Rod Hannifey, a long time Australian truck driver currently with Rod Pilon Transport of Dubbo, is a former ATA Driver of the Year plus the Convoy For Kids Inc Memorial "William 'John' Bond 2004 National Safe Driver of the Year Award winner.
Rod has also been a regular columnist in caravan magazines putting across the view of truck drivers about sharing the road. He also writes in Owner-Driver and is well listened to as a regular presenter on 'Overnight Express' Radio.
More from Rod: I drive a two trailer, 25-metre B-double tautliner and am seeking comment from vanners on sharing the road with trucks.
In my experience the most difficult situation is with a truck catching up behind a van, and the van driver - believing he is doing the right thing, unnecessarily slows and moves to the left. By slowing before the truck has pulled out to overtake, the van forces the truck to slow, losing its momentum and road speed, which it then has to recover before overtaking.
Though moving left can sometimes reduce wind buffeting for the van, with a rough or broken road edge, it can make controlling the van more difficult and can throw up stones from this normally unused section of road. The truck will always have to cross the centre line, so move left only when conditions warrant it.
I would recommend maintaining your speed and position until the truck pulls out to overtake, and if you wish to assist, only then, lift your foot gently off the accelerator, flash the truckie with your headlight flasher when its safe to move back in and then regain your travelling speed.
“Caravan CB”, AM (CB) 18 and UHF 18 is now widely recognised and though unofficial (but within Australian Communication Authority Guidelines) with your van signed front and back, it provides on road communication between vanners and truckies when needed, and if used during overtaking, takes away the guess work of what each party is going to do. Caravan CB has been growing slowly now for over three years and will continue to be promoted through interested caravan clubs, parks and industry organizations and magazines along with, in the trucking industry.
Truckies generally use channel 8 on AM and 40 on UHF. Emergency channels are 9 on AM and 5 on UHF (all for 40 channel sets).
The more who join in and participate in “Caravan CB”, the wider the benefits will spread. Signs are available from a number of clubs or you can make your own. FRONT – CB18 and or UHF18 as applicable.
REAR – CARAVAN CB (Minimum 100 mm high letters)
CB 18 and or UHF 18 as applicable, with the option of adding your name, eg ‘Bill and Sue’, to ensure you get the right van. I’m told this is a good icebreaker in caravan parks.
With caravan speeds often limited by towing vehicle manufacturers capacities and or ratings, it is worth considering the capabilities of your combination as a whole in choosing a safe road speed. My hope would be that secure, suitable mirrors and a proper towing hitch be included, along with putting your unit over a weighbridge to ensure correct weights and weight distribution for improved safety. A CB or UHF radio should prove a valuable addition. You might consider joining a caravan club to access the experiences of others or look to caravan magazines for information or even attending a caravan clinic to see you start off with some experience, rather than learn from scratch on the road, which has seen some learn very costly lessons.
I would welcome your comments and suggestions with the aim of improving on road communication particularly between vanners and truckies and improving road safety for all road users.
Please write your Comments and/or Suggestions to:
Rod Hannifey, 15 Kensington Ave. Dubbo, N.S.W. 2830. Australia.
Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey. Road Transport and Road Safety Advocate 0428 120 560
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