The Top Tips for Sharing the Road Safely with Heavy Vehicles

We are excited to launch our “Share the Road Safely” campaign. Supported by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator under the Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative[1], our series of short online videos outline common risks and misconceptions about sharing the road safety with heavy vehicles.

The series consists of ten separate tips each based on key themes highlighted by an industry survey that asked heavy vehicle drivers to identify the common safety issues they encountered while working on the road.

There is currently no formal requirement for teaching new drivers about sharing the road with heavy vehicles nor is it a focus for driver educations programs so when a young driver makes a mistake, the consequences can be extremely serious, even fatal.

Each video is less than two minutes long making it a quick and easy resource to educate drivers about sharing the road safely. A combination of on the road scenarios, graphics and animations are used to explain each tip in a straight forward and down to earth way.

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Production of the videos was by industry media specialists Whiteline Television. Writer/Producer Jessica Ferrari led the team and the videos are co-hosted by Rod Hannifey and Nicole Rutledge. Rod, who initially conducted the driver surveys that lead to the “Truckies Top Ten Tips” has been promoting road safety in the road transport industry for well over 15 years. Nicole is from a transport family, her grandfather and father owned their own transport companies and were inducted into the National Road Transport Hall of Fame.

The Top Tips:

1. STOPPING DISTANCE

A loaded B-Double can weigh 40 to 50 times that of the average sedan and because of this substantial weight difference, trucks take much longer to stop than a car.

For example, a car travelling at 100km/h takes 157 metres to stop whereas a truck travelling at the same speed takes 185 metres to stop.[2] A truck travelling at 60km/h needs 83 metres to stop. So, if you move accross in front of them at a red light – then you’re moving into their stopping space and putting yourself at risk

For you own safety, please leave plenty of space in front of heavy vehicles approaching traffic lights or out on the highway.


2. DO NOT OVERTAKE TURNING VEHICLE – CORNERS

The “DO NOT OVERTAKE TURNING VEHICLE” sign on the rear of vehicles over 7.5 metres in length, allows them to legally turn from the second or even the third lane as needed to safely get around a corner.[3] If you are next to a truck during a turn, you could be in their blind spot or move into the path of the trailer that swings out during a turn put yourself at risk.

For your own safety, it’s essential stay behind the Do Not Overtake Turning Vehicle sign until the turn is completed.


3. BEING OVERTAKEN BY A HEAVY VEHICLE

When it comes to being overtaken, the law says that you must not increase your speed.[4]  This especially important when it comes to heavy vehicles because our size and weight means it takes them longer to speed up and slow down.

If you’re being overtaking by a truck, it’s really important that you don’t speed up.


4. SPEED LIMITED VEHICHLES

Vehicles over a certain size are required to be speed limited to a maximum of 100km per hour.[5] This means the power to the engine is cut once the vehicle reaches 100km and it affects the way a driver approaches overtaking, and hill decents and climbs. 

If a tuck is slow uphill or when overtaking, please be patient.


5. ROAD COURTESY

As you commute, holiday or drop the kids at sport, please remember that for truck drivers – the road is their working environment and a bit of patience and courtesy goes a long way.


6. ROAD POSITIONING

Being aware of where you position your vehicle on the road can help make everyone safer. Trucks are wide as well as long so stay to the left of your lane. If you need to pull over, stop well clear of the fog line and use hazard lights.


7. HIGH BEAM AND FOG LIGHTS

Glare contributes to night driving fatigue. Dip your lights before reaching a crest, a curve or as you approach a truck from behind.

Trucks mirrors are much larger and have no anti-glare position so don’t move to high beam until past the truck’s mirrors. Please check headlight alignment regularly, particularly if loaded up on long trips and only use fog lights in fog, they can be a hazard at other times.


8. CARAVANS AND MOTORHOMES

When being overtaken, maintain speed and position, only slow when the truck has moved out to pass. Quality mirrors, towing hitches and good advice are priceless. A CB or UHF radio can also be worthwhile and fitting stickers on the front and rear of your van lets drivers know how to contact you.

Please remember that as you holiday around the county – the roads are where heavy vehicle drivers work.


9. OVERTAKING HEAVY VEHICLES

If you are right on the back of the truck you have very little vision.  Be sure you can see enough road ahead and then quickly but sensibly. Don’t pull back in until you see both the trucks headlights, this allows a safe space. Maintain your speed, don’t pass and then slow directly in front of the truck.

It’s not worth taking big risks to arrive a few minutes sooner. Please keep this in mind when overtaking trucks.


10. DO NOT OVERTAKE TURNING VEHICLE – ROUNDABOUTS

The “DO NOT OVERTAKE TURNING VEHICLE” sign applies at roundabouts. Larger trucks often need both lanes. A common misunderstanding about roundabouts is that you always give way to your right, in fact, every state dictates that drivers entering a roundabout have to give way to any vehicle that is already on it. Once stopped, it takes a while for a truck to get going again, so making it stop will slow all the traffic down. If you arrive at the entrance at a similar time, you could slow a little and let the truck continue its momentum.

Patience and courtesy at roundabouts can help everyone be quickly and safely on their way.


The top tips are provided in good faith to assist in drivers gaining a better understanding of the challenges associated with manoeuvring heavy vehicles around our wonderful country. All drivers wish to go home safely at the end of their shift to their families and loved ones.

It should always be remembered that without trucks, Australia being the large nation it is, STOPS and so a little bit of patience, courtesy and understanding goes a long way in keeping us safe on our roads.


[1] https://www.nhvr.gov.au/about-us/engaging-with-industry/heavy-vehicle-safety-initiative

[2] Source: https://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/Safety/Driver-guide/Sharing-the-road-with-other-road-users/Heavy-vehicles.aspx

[3] ROAD SAFETY ROAD RULES 2017 – RULE 143.

[4] National Transport Commission (Road Transport Legislation – Australian Road Rules) Regulations 2006, Division 3, Section:145.

[5] Vehicle Standard (Australian Design Rule 65/00 – Maximum Road Speed Limiting for Heavy Goods Vehicles and Heavy Omnibuses) 2006, 65.5. MAXIMUM ROAD SPEED CAPABILITY

For heavy vehicles and omnibuses, the maximum road speed capability shall be no greater than 100 km/h.

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Comment (1)

  1. Thank you for this excellent presentation. I really thi k it should be part of every driving test, also part of renewing your licence at least every couple of years. I also feel EVERYONE should spend a day or two in the cab of a tru k to get a ether idea of the realities of driving something other than. Car

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