A road-train is a conventional prime mover truck pulling two, three or four trailers and may be over 50m long (that is the length of 10 cars) and can weigh up to nearly 200 tonnes!
Over the years we’ve chatted to people who are a little nervous about their first sighting of a road train, so we’ve put together some tips to make your trip a safer and more enjoyable experience.
- Never cut in front of a road-train – at traffic lights, roundabouts, turn offs, on the highway, in fact avoid it completely! They need a lot of room to slow down or stop and they need all the space available if they need to turn.
- On the highway stick as far to the left of your lane as safely possible and give them plenty of space. They will take up at least the full width of theirs and possibly some of yours. If you need to stop, move away from the road if at all possible.
- If a road train is about to overtake you don’t slow down. Wait for the road train to have fully pulled out into the other lane before slowing down. Otherwise the road train has to slow down too which makes it more difficult for them to accelerate and pass. Instead maintain your speed, and only when the road train is passing you, slow down.
- If you overtake a road-train make sure you have plenty of clear road ahead. Don’t underestimate the time it takes to overtake a 50m train if you are only marginally faster. You’ll need at least 1km of clear road ahead of you. Only move back into the left lane once you can see both headlights in your rear view mirror, and don’t slow down now!
- On single lane highways slow down when you see an oncoming truck, carefully pull off the road and stop if you can. You’ll find in the outback, on these roads, there is plenty of warning as you’ll see the road train coming way ahead. Preferably you want the road train to keep all their wheels on the bitumen to avoid flying stones in your direction. Beware of soft road shoulders, wildlife and guide posts when pulling over to the road edge.
- If you’re following a road train and you can’t see their side mirrors – they can’t see you!
The good news is that the drivers of these big trucks are usually the most courteous, considerate and responsible of all drivers on Australian Outback roads – give them a wave!
Remember you are on holiday, and if you find yourself behind a road train, relax and enjoy the countryside until you find a safe place to overtake. Better yet, this could be a great opportunity to pull over and make a cuppa – that’s the beauty of travelling in a camper!