TRUCK STOPS ARE IN THE NEWS AGAIN

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Published: 13 January 2020 13 January 2020

Written by Ken Wilson  08.01.20 

It can be very frustrating for long distance truck drivers who must by law stop at regular intervals to rest when they are not able to find a place to park their large rigs or find them filled with other road users who often have far more alternative places to park.
The different levels of Government and many roadhouses have placed large rest / park bays to accommodate the large B-Doubles who have very limited turning ability and need long bays to accommodate their extra-long length.
A fully loaded semi-trailer can be up to 19 meters for an average single trailer or up to 26 meters for a B-Double semi-trailer. When you drive out west and in the Northern Territory, you will often come across larger road trains which can be up to 53 meters long which is over 4 times the length of the average car/caravan combo.
I think that we will all agree that there needs to be far more rest areas for all vehicle types and I have lobbied for better signage on existing truck stops and general rest areas to help avoid the confusion that currently exists between frustrated truck drivers and the Caravan and RV community.
While most signage is general in nature there are many that designate Truck Rest Area and should be respected as ONLY for trucks.
Caravanners often stop for the day at midday or in the afternoon and find a rest area that seems relatively empty and assume that they have the right to camp there for the night.
The problem, however, arises when the long-distance truck drivers leave their depot in the afternoon and are due for their legally required rest stop at 1 or 3 am in the morning. They plan their trips around stopping at the rest areas they know are there specifically for them only to find them filled with campers parked all over the place leaving no place for them to park a 26-meter B-Double. They leave no room for it to safety turn in or out of the area without taking out the caravan parked at the entrance or exit.
We have all gone past rest areas and seen several caravans, RV's or cars strung out along the whole length of the rest area with space in between but leaving no long areas for trucks to pull in safely. It is just inconsiderate.
I do not understand why caravanners and RV drivers want to take up truck stops and risk a very noisy B-Double with a refrigeration motor running 24/7 pulling up beside them at 2 am in the morning.
One truck driver reported that he was woken by an angry caravanner in a truck stop at 2 am with a banging on his truck door and asking for him to turn off his refrigeration motor on his load as it was keeping the caravanner awake. As you can expect the conversation went bad pretty quickly and the caravanner threatened to call the police to have the noise stopped. The truck driver begged him to call the police as it would have been the caravanner who would have been told to leave the truck stop.
Other truck stops have been cleared by police in the early hours when there was no room left for the trucks.
Legally the truck driver must stop and if he cannot pull off the road to rest because of illegally parked caravanners and RV drivers then the police will be on the side of the truck driver every time.
Such is the arrogance and lack of respect that some caravanners have for the law and other people.
I am very pleased to say that the vast majority of caravanners want to and do the right thing. The problem is educating the minority that give other caravanners and RV drivers a bad name. We, unfortunately all get tarred with the same brush.
Please lobby your politicians and others for more signage on rest stops and roadhouses to help avoid the confusion and frustration that currently exists. There are also few roadhouses that have signed caravan park bays and they leave little options for caravanners to park anywhere else but in the long bays which may or may not be signed for trucks.
If there are no other options than to use one of the longer bays then I ask that respect is shown and where practical park at the ends of the bay so another caravan can park behind you instead of taking up two long bays.
We need far more separated rest areas but where all road users can share common facilities like toilets, tables, seats and shelters so that all can have a quiet rest and maybe share a cup of coffee, cake and chat with a truck driver who is away from family and friends working.
Respect is earned, so if caravanners, RV drivers and truck drivers want to be shown respect then we all also need to start showing some respect for others.
It won't happen overnight and we won't educate all, but we can make a big difference to the safety, enjoyment and stress of our trip by showing respect for other road users.
Below is a link to the Truck Friendly web site page on truck stops which includes a video link on using truck stops by a truck driver, Rod Hannifey. Well worth a watch.
Stay safe everyone and stay truck friendly.
Cheers
Ken Wilson
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Truck Friendly caravan road safety program
https://truckfriendly.com.au/truck-stops