Jennifer Birch | Eastern Driving School

How to Pass a Truck Safely

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How to Pass a Truck Safely

All drivers will ultimately have to pass a truck, whether on a single road, or a highway at some point. However, passing a truck is different to passing a car and accidents can easily happen. Data from the Australian government’s Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics, or BITRE, show that 185 people were killed in 168 fatal crashes involving heavy trucks in 2017 .

These road mishaps, as road safety advocate Rod Hannerfy noted in 2012 to ABC are always reported as “truck accidents”, implying that the truck or driver was responsible. A truckie by profession, Hannerfy believed that 80% of accidents involving trucks were in fact caused by the car driver, arguing that car drivers: “simply don’t understand how the size and weight of a truck affects the way they handle on the road”.

It is thus imperative that drivers learn how to share Australia’s roads with trucks.One important driving skill every driver should learn early, and master quickly, is passing a truck safely. It is vital that they understand that this is not the same as passing a car or a like-sized vehicle. There is a tried-and-tested approach to decide whether you should pass a truck. To this end, My Licence recommends that you ask yourself these questions first:

  • What will I achieve?
  • What are the risks?
  • Is passing both safe and legal?
  • How far is the next overtaking lane?
  • How long is the truck?
  • How long will it take to overtake this truck?
  • Can I see if there is oncoming traffic?

Once you have determined that you can execute the passing safely, you can follow these pointers:

1. Stay out of the truck’s blind spots. As we have explained before in ‘Common Mistakes People Make When Driving on the Road’, many still fail to follow this rule.

A truck’s blind spots are as follows:

Also, if you can’t see the driver in the truck’s side mirror, that means he probably can’t see you either.

2. When you see the driver in the side mirror that means you’re in position to pass.

3. Signal clearly, then manoeuvre into the left lane.

4. Accelerate so you can get past the truck safely and promptly.

5. Check in your rear-view mirror to see if the truck is visible. Once it is, you can then pull in front. Specifically, make sure you see both the trucks headlights. Remember to give a truck extra space, too.

There is good news though. Barring unforeseen hindrances, driver fatigue could soon be a thing of the past as the Australian government is on the cusp of mandating the use of Electronic Work Diaries (EWD).
This follows the lead set by the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration which last year required fleet operators to install Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) in their vehicles. Fleetmatics explain that ELDs automatically record the truck driver’s work and rest times, thereby eliminating instances of drivers remaining behind the wheel if they have exceeded their allotted work hours. The EWD will work in the same way as the ELD. The only difference is that EWDs are voluntary. Hopefully in the near future the majority of trucks with have EWDs, and the risk of truck drivers overdriving could be eliminated.
Ultimately, roads will never be 100% safe, and both car and truck drivers must do their part to make travelling by road safer. For learner drivers, if we all do our part and learn the correct method to pass a truck, we can certainly minimise accidents.

Guest post by: JVBRoadMatters
Article only for the use of Easterndrivingschool.com.au