'It's not about trucks v the caravans'
"THE road is there to share.”
That's the message Australian Trucking Association chief executive officer Ben Maguire is trying to get out there when conversations turn to the gripes truckies have with grey nomads.
"The grey nomad tourism business is very welcome in regional Australia but those caravans, when they get to these towns, are going to expect (service stations) to have fuel in them, that there's food on supermarket shelves,” he said.
"That will only happen if trucks are on the roads so just some understanding is the first thing we want.”
Mr Maguire said while truckies had specific things they wanted caravan drivers to be aware of - like not blocking truck parking bays, communication or what speeds they were driving - he reiterated it was a community issue.
"The issue is not about caravans versus trucks,” he said. "This is a community issue. Everyone on that road, assuming they've paid their registration and have their licence, they have a right to be there.
"But if we show each other a bit of common courtesy, we can make it all happen safely and politely.
"The whole community - whether its caravanners or farmers or truck drivers - just understand that everyone has a right to be there and that they all play an important role on the roads.”
Mr Maguire recognised that some grey nomads might be apprehensive about being on the roads and towing a caravan for the first time, so suggested if they were scared about travelling the speed limit, just to jump on the UHF and communicate with fellow drivers.
"It might be their first trip to the bush and they might be apprehensive about it but rather than shutting down and thinking they're the only ones out there, if they can be aware of everyone else around them, I think that's an important approach.”
One truck driver said he wanted grey nomads to understand truckies just didn't just sleep at night, while another diver said the key was not to panic when a truck was near.
"Don't panic and just stay on the speed they are comfortable with and let the truck do all the work,” he said.
"When the truck is overtaking them slow down a bit, then when the truck is in front, flash him back in and don't try to overtake the truck on the next hill.”
To help combat some of the issues cropping up on the roads, the Caravan Industry Association of Australia and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator created the "Co-Exist” education and awareness campaign.
The campaign will aim to promote a better understanding on the roads between caravanners and trucks.
Co-Exist will focus on the use of truck stops, professional driver requirements and communication on the road.
The program will promote use and understanding of UHF radios as a communication tool and improved education around effective parking, stopping distances, avoiding trailer sway, caravan weights, speed and improved training on how to tow.