Drake Trailers

Tips for safely driving around heavy vehicles in Australia

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Every truck driver we meet here at The Drake Group is proud of their safe driving records. In fact, heavy vehicle drivers are some of the most highly-trained safe and regulated drivers on Australian roads.

Despite how far we’ve come with technology and laws introduced to make our roads safer, the number of fatal crashes for heavy vehicles is still too high, with NSW seeing an 86% rise in fatalities over a 12-month period in 2017. Some of the truck crashes were due to poorly maintained vehicles, while a majority were a resulted of passenger car and truck collisions.

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) understand that drivers might feel a little intimidated sharing the roads with heavy vehicles, so they’ve recently released their top ten tips for drivers. If you keep in mind these tips, everyone’s precious cargo should arrive safely.

  1. Patient drivers are safe drivers. Trucks generally need to move through ten or more gears to slow down or speed up. As they weigh so much more than a regular passenger car this can take a bit longer to achieve. Try to stay patient as they get up to speed.
  2. No point in tailgating. Driving up the rear end of a truck (or any car for that matter) is stressful for you and the other driver. Not to mention dangerous, as you’re putting yourself in the firing line for any rocks thrown up by a truck's wheels. If you’re caught, you’ll cop a pretty fine too!
  3. Give some space. The three-second rule applies to space between passenger cars. But it’s different for trucks. They need twice as much room to brake safely, so allow enough space and try not to cut in too close.
  4. Two to tango on a turn. Did you know a truck is allowed to use two lanes to turn? If the truck in front is turning, hang back and don’t overtake.
  5. Keep an eye on their mirrors. If you can’t see theirs, they can’t see you. If you plan on overtaking, go up the right lane as the blind spot is smaller.
  6. Slowly does it. Consistency and predictability with speed is the key here when overtaking a heavy vehicle. Avoid drastic changes in speed that are likely to force a truck to brake suddenly.
  7. Buses come first. Did you know you must give way to a bus leaving a stop on roads zoned 70km/h or slower? Be patient with the bus and only change lanes to overtake when it’s safe to do so.
  8. Distraction is a killer. 80% of crashes are caused by distraction. What does that encompass? Looking at your mobile, GPS, radio, eating, drinking and smoking all count as distractions that have caused crashes. Stay alert and if you’re tired, there’s no harm in a quick break to stretch your legs and replenish.
  9. Know your place at the rest stop. When you’re in an RV stopping for the night, you are not entitled to rest in the HV spot. Leave these parks vacant for tired heavy vehicle drivers to get some rest and drive safely on their next shift.
  10. Extra loads require extra safety. It doesn’t happen often, but if you come across an extra-large load being escorted by police or a pilot, stay far back and pay attention to instructions and signs around you.

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) is the driving force behind safer laws for heavy vehicles, making Australian roads safer by regulating where vehicles can go and how they’re operated. So far, NHVR has brought in laws around standards for size, weight limits for heavy vehicles, secure loads, working hours for drivers, vehicle building, maintenance and repair. The Drake Group proudly support the NHVR and their initiatives to make the transport and logistics industries that much safer.