What should you do when overtaking or
being overtaken by a heavy vehicle.
Sound advice from a truckies point of view.
following article was supplied by
Doug Tilley. Doug has over 30 years experience
as an Interstate Truck Driver. Towards the end of this
period Doug was also an Oversize Pilot/Escort
Owner/Operator. This coupled with his caravan towing
experience makes Doug somewhat of an expert in his field
and he shares some of this experience and knowledge.
The Team at Lets-Getaway.com would like to thank Doug
for sharing these valuable tips from the “truckies point
What to do if a truck/semi trailer catches up behind you
There is certainly some bad language emitted from some
truckies on Channel 40 however
this is one of the most important UHF channels when
travelling the major highways. When you notice a
truck/semi catching up behind you, switch to Channel 40
and call the driver and let him know you are aware he is
there. Communicate to him that you are prepared to let
him overtake as soon as it is safe to do so. He will
appreciate your communication and will often sit
patiently behind you until safe to overtake, rather than
try to get around at the earliest opportunity.
How and why do trucks/semis travel at 100 Kph even when
it is raining and visibility is poor?
The truck’s cabin is sitting high above the road making
it much easier to see the white line and the road verge
when looking down at it unlike a vehicle lower to the
ground where visibility is much more difficult. A truck
with a gross weight of 42.5 to
132 ton (in the case of
a triple Roadtrain) is
also less likely to aquaplane than a car and therefore
can maintain stability on even wet roads.
What do you do once the truck / semi actually commences
passing your vehicle and rv?
When the truck starts to pull along side your vehicle
and caravan or trailer you will feel the wind buffeting
you. You will also feel it push you along until the
rear of the truck has passed you. Keep as far left as
practical and safely as possible and maintain your speed
(even with just a little power on to keep your van or
trailer straight). DO NOT HIT THE BRAKE. After the
truck has cleared the front of your vehicle and it is
safe for him to pull back in, give him a courtesy flash
with your headlights or an "all clear" on the UHF. This
is particularly important in wet weather as often his
left hand mirror can be obscured with mud and dust
making it difficult for him to judge when he is safely
past you. Remember he is on the wrong side of the road
and is anxious to bring his rig back in safety as
quickly as possible.
Should you slow down to allow the truck/semi to pass?
When you see a truck in the distance behind you and you
plan to slow a little to allow him to pass, don’t wait
until the last minute to do so. There will usually be
oncoming traffic as he waits for his opportunity to pass
safely and having to brake behind you will not allow him
to maintain the momentum he needs to overtake.
What should you do if you see a truck/semi coming
towards you on a narrow road?
The very first thing you should do is gradually reduce
your speed. This gives you more time to react to any
situation which may arise and to pick a safe shoulder of
the road to pull over and eventually STOP. If the edges
are soft and you get bogged you can easily be pulled out
by the truck, however if you force the truck off the
roadway and it gets bogged, nothing will pull it out.
If the roadside is dusty and you force the truck off,
you will not be able to see any dangers coming along
behind him until the dust clears.
is always better to pull off the road completely and
stop to let the truck have the bitumen, than be showered
with rocks from upwards of 94 (Roadtrain)
tyres because you wanted to “share” this strip of hard
surface. Be considerate of your fellow travellers, and
this includes trucks / semis.
When should you dip your lights for oncoming
As with normal vehicles driving at night, you
should dip your lights to low beam to avoid
blinding the oncoming driver as soon as you see
the lights of oncoming traffic. If following a
truck, don’t wait until you are right up behind
him before dipping your lights. Truck mirrors
can be 15 times larger than normal vehicles and
do not have an anti-glare position. When you
move out to overtake the truck, do not return
your lights to high beam until you have
completely past the truck mirrors.
Parking in Truck Rest Areas
Avoid parking in a “Truck Rest Stop” unless
absolutely necessary. ie. Fatigued, no other
options. Remember these areas are for the
truckies who by law have to have a break every 5
hours, and 12 hours rest after 12 hours driving
in any 24 hour period. If you do stop in a
Truck Rest Stop this may mean you will have to
endure stamping cattle, air brakes,
refrigeration unit noise and other associated
noises from these big rigs.
Keep in mind that trucks and semi’s are large
units and therefore will take a huge portion of
the roadway. When a truck approaches you,
increase your own safety by being aware of your
position on the road and create as much “buffer
zone” between you and the truck by keeping as
far left of your lane as you can as you pass
each other. If parked on the side of the
roadway whether for just a minute, broken down
or even if pulled over by the police, park well
clear where possible. A lot of travellers park
only centimetres from the fog line (the unbroken
line on the left of the roadway) and with large
trucks using all the road, this leaves little
room for error.
photo illustrates just how little space there
can be when sharing the road with these big
rigs. Keep in mind the vehicle was towing
a caravan when this picture was taken.
What should you do when
approaching a roundabout and you find yourself beside a
Roundabouts can cause problems with car drivers not
allowing for the need of the truck to possibly use ALL
of the roadway. The “Do Not Overtake Turning Vehicle”
sign applies in this instance and you should stay well
behind the truck as he will sometimes need to move into
your laneway to negotiate the corner.
Pilot / Escort vehicles approaching
When you see a Pilot / Escort car approaching towards
you, there are a number of factors you should consider
when deciding what to do. First and foremost slow down
to give you more time to react to the situation.
If the Pilot / Escort vehicle only has the amber roof
light flashing, headlights on and displaying an
"OVERSIZE LOAD AHEAD" sign, this will mean the load is
between 3.5 m and 4.5 m wide. If the road is wide there
is no need to stop, but slow down to about half your
speed and keep well left.
If the Pilot / Escort vehicle approaching has the amber
roof light flashing, headlights on and displaying an
"OVERSIZE LOAD AHEAD" sign – as well as white Wig Wag
lights operating, this will mean the load will be
between 4.5 m and 5.5 m wide and depending on road
conditions – prepare to stop completely moving once
again as far left as possible.
If all of the above indicators are visible and the Pilot
/ Escort is also accompanied by one or two Police
Escorts, you MUST STOP. Pull right off the road
taking care not to park in cuttings or obscuring road
signs. After the load has passed, check to make sure a
second load is not following and pull safely back onto
Coming up behind an oversized load without a Pilot /
you need to pass an oversized load without a Pilot /
under 3.5m do not require a Pilot unless over length) use
your UHF on Channel 40 and let the driver know you are
behind him. He will call you around when safe.
Overtake quickly but safely and thank him when the job
is done. If there is a Pilot vehicle behind the load he
will be in communication with the lead Pilot vehicle and
when it is safe to do so, he will wave you around to
overtake. Always wait until the direction is given. In
some States it is illegal to not comply with the
directions of an Authorised Accredited Pilot driver and
you can be fined and lose points of your licence.
Travelling on multi lane roads
Always keep left unless overtaking on multi lane roads.
Why travel within 1 metre of an oncoming car or truck
when if you keep left as much as possible you can have 3
– 4 metres, giving more room for error.