Harmonising vehicles on the road

All vehicle types, whether they are bicycles, motorcycles, cars, medium or heavy vehicles all have a right to use the state’s roads. However undisciplined behaviours, a lack of clarity in road laws and a lack of knowledge regarding the needs of different user types continue to contribute to the issue of congestion, frustration and inherent harmonisation issues.

The VTA believes the key to happier and safer roads for our industry requires other road users understanding the activities and needs of heavy vehicles. We know that our roads and freeways are a truck driver’s main workplace and as with any workplace we want it to remain safe for our workers.

We want other road users and the community at large to understand the important role that heavy vehicles play within society. Within the industry we understand that ships, trains and planes all carry freight, but only trucks deliver. We need trucks on our roads. We want those outside of our industry to understand this too, which will reinforce the rightful place for heavy vehicles and their activity on our roads.

What we as an industry don’t need is obscure media reports such as “Ice Road Truckers” and “$100 danger money payments”. Heavy vehicles have a right to use the road without victimisation, bullying and malevolence from other road users.

The VTA is working with the State Government, VicRoads and other statutory bodies to ensure that our industry starts to gain improved community perspectives. Moreover, we are working with these bodies on the Travel Happy – Share the Road campaign, which is based on the premise that anger and frustration often lead to dangerous behaviour on the roads and focusses on increasing travel happiness to make our roads a safer place for everyone.

The campaign raises awareness of the roles and responsibilities of all road users, whether they are pedestrians, cyclists, car drivers or truck drivers, and offers tips to interact with all road users in a safe and courteous manner.

The VTA is supportive of the key messages being delivered through the campaign in relation to heavy vehicles. To make a truck driver’s workplace safer and more enjoyable, the campaign suggests that other road users should:
• Be patient – if a truck driver is blocking traffic while reversing a large trailer down a back laneway, why not marvel at their skills instead of getting impatient.
• Be mindful of blind spots – the blind spots that a truck driver has to deal with are the size of an average backyard pool. The rule of thumb is if you can’t see the driver’s face in their mirrors, they can’t see you.
• Never linger. Sitting next to a truck for an extended period of time increases the chance that the driver can’t see you.
• Not to overtake a turning truck, including through roundabouts – some trucks need extra room to turn safely and are legally allowed to do so from an adjacent lane.
• Maintain your speed – it’s important to maintain your speed if another road user is overtaking you, particularly if that road user is a truck.
• Be mindful of safe stopping distances – trucks need significantly more space than other road users to stop safely. That’s why it’s important that other road users don’t cut into the gap a truck has left between them and the vehicle ahead of them.

The Victoria Police, as with all road enforcement agencies, will again be focusing on Operations Austrans beginning in May this year. This campaign targets the heavy-vehicle industry and clearly delivers on reinforcing safety on our roads with heavy vehicles.

The VTA looks forward to continuing to raise awareness of the vital role heavy vehicles play in society and educating other motorists of how to travel happy alongside heavy vehicles. To learn more about the Travel Happy – Share the Road campaign, visit www.travelhappy.vic.gov.au or www.anzpaa.org.au/current-initiatives/operation-austrans to learn more about Operation Austrans.

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