AS we creep into January, reality begins to hit many holiday goers - yes the break is over.
Sadly, we all need to head back to work at some point, and those away now have to prepare for a long drive home.
So before we hit the road, Australia's truckies hope to remind holiday motorists of how to make it home safe and best share the highways with heavy vehicles. Truckie and Road Safety Advocate Rod Hannifey has put together his top ten list on how to share the space.
1. Don't cut in front of trucks approaching traffic lights or out on the highway.
Allow safe road space for the trucks size. A loaded B-Double can weigh 40 to 50 times that of the average sedan; don't risk being hit. Simple physics means a truck takes more distance to stop.
2. Don't overtake a turning vehicle.
The signs on the rear of vehicles over 7.5 metres aren't just for decoration. It also reminds road users that these vehicles are legally permitted to turn from the second or even the third lane as needed to safely get round a corner. Stay back; don't move into the blind spot to the left and rear of the truck cab. As a rule of thumb, if you can't see the truck driver, he can't see you.
3. When being passed by a truck, don't allow your speed to increase.
If anything, ease up on the accelerator and by helping the truck pass safely you improve your own safety as well. A flash of the headlights tells the truckie when it's safe to move back in.
4. Remember trucks are speed limited.
Speed limiting means no engine power above 100 km/hr, though gravity can push us faster downhill. A truck will hope to be at the legal speed limit approaching the bottom of a hill to lessen delays to all traffic. But sometimes we are slow uphill or when overtaking, so please be patient, we are doing the best we can.
5. Road courtesy and a bit of patience may save your life.
I'd much rather a wave of thanks than a shaken fist. Improved driver education and awareness of heavy vehicles, can only improve safety for all road users.
6. Road positioning.
A truck uses all of its lane space so avoid travelling right on the centre line. Instead make use of all the road width available, to give you space between opposing traffic. If stopped or broken down, where possible park well clear of the roadway. 10cm past the fog line (the unbroken line on the left) is not safe for you or your car. Use hazard lights and ensure headlights are dipped or off at night, to be able to be seen safely. Safety triangles can be a worthwhile investment.
7. High beam glare contributes to night driving fatigue.
Dip when flashed, or before reaching a crest or curve, don't blind, then dip. Trucks mirrors are much larger and have no anti-glare position, dip early when behind trucks and when overtaking, don't move to high beam until past the trucks mirrors. Please check headlight alignment regularly, particularly if loaded up on long trips and only use fog lights in fog, they can be more of a hazard at other times.
Motorists know how to deal with trucks on the road
8. Communication with Caravans.
Caravans, 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 drivers fully support the idea of a caravan CB, UHF and CB 18 and the fitting of Caravan CB stickers on the front and rear of your van.
9. For safe overtaking.
If you are right on the back of the truck you have very little vision, stay back allowing you to see better. Next, be sure you can see enough road to pass safely. Pass quickly but sensibly and don't pull back in until you see both the trucks headlights, this allows a safe space. Finally maintain your speed, don't pass and then slow directly in front of the truck. To take a large risk for a gain of a couple of minutes is unsafe and often unnecessary - If you can't see don't pass.
Again, the "DO NOT OVERTAKE TURNING VEHICLE" sign applies, so please stay back. Larger trucks often need all of the roadway. The truck isn't racing you into the roundabout; it is trying to fit in, to avoid a much slower start and movement through, which can often further delay or stop, all traffic. Remember, every item you buy or use is carried on a truck at sometime. Like you, truckies want to get home safely to their families, so let's share the road.
Click for more from Rod Hannifey and his road safety movement.