Camper Trailers Tech Tips

sharing the road with big rigs





sharing the road with big rigs

Greg & Marge alongside a roadtrain


Put the UHF on Channel 40 (mostly) or 29 on the Pacific Highway. You can generally see the company name on the truck, or work out the make of truck. Conversation then goes something like this. "ABC Kenworth behind the gold Patrol and camper, you copy on channel 40?" Once he/she answers, just advise you will get him/her past as soon as you can, and that you will back off during the passing. Then you will often find the truck will back off a little to allow a run-up to pass.

calling through

You have to be able to judge whether a semi or B Double can get past, but remember that unless they are very heavy, they will accelerate quite well. Once you see a clear piece of road, a simple call of "OK, bring it around, backing off" is all that is needed. Three things to remember, one, that the driver sees the same as you if not better being higher up, so he/she is probably alread making the run-up to pass. Two, don't back off until the truck is out and actually passing as you don't want the truck in your camper, and three, a flash of the headlights once the rear of the truck is past you. The driver will be watching his left side mirror, so the flash is the signal to come back over, or you can get on the UHF and just say "bring it over" or "you're clear to come across".

You will almost 100% find that the truckie will get on the radio and thank you, and remember that all the trucks up to 10klms behind you will have heard the radio conversation and will know that you are a courteous and co-operative driver when they catch up to you. I have even had them come up behind and initiate the first radio call once they recognise the car and camper.

radio type

Handhelds are OK for this, as range is not an issue.

a word of warning

If you are going to get on Channel 40, and you have the wife and kids in the car, the language on Channel 40 generally has a lot of F's and C's words used, often they are every 2nd or 3rd word (extreme cases). You may hear this when waiting for the channel to clear to "break in". While I can tune out to it, it is not all that good for the younger ones who have yet to learn these words in the school playground.

As a final word, if I am travelling alone on long distances, I often strike up a conversation with the truckies to break the boredom. I think they like a chat too if it is a bit quiet.

Thanks to Trevor Owens for sharing this with us.

what if I don't have a UHF radio

A real good indicator is how quick you see the truck coming up behind you & how close he (she) stays. If "real quick & real close", pull over at the earliest convenient time & let the truck pass.

stay totally predictable

Truckies know the speed their trucks can go & how quick they lose speed on hills. They often travel exactly the same bit of road all the time & know it better than the back of their hand. They also know pretty much within 30 seconds of coming up behind a vehicle combination when & where they will be able to overtake & you being predictable (ie. just drive normally) helps them. The worst thing for them (and YOU as the overtakee - because you may panic) is them knowing their overtaking opportunity is a long way ahead. This is when just about anyone becomes dangerous - when they are prepared to take risks to overtake because of frustration, hence my first 2 sentences above.

Because they have such good vision ahead they may seem to be overtaking in a situation which seems incredibly dangerous to you. It probably isn't BUT take note of what the road has been like behind you; what the curves, crests, etc are like & whether you think the line marking rules (especially double lines) may be bent by someone with vision from on high. DON'T PANIC! Stay driving normally (predictably) BUT JUST IN CASE note emergency pull off areas; what the side of the road is like (vegetation, gravel, slopes, etc) so if they are forced to "come back in" while they are partially beside you, YOU have prepared for this eventuality & will hopefully survive the incident - shaken AND stirred but not dead. If you have a fellow traveller get them to remember the letters & you remember the numbers (or vice versa or whatever suits) of their number plate. They could even take pictures of the plates of all the trucks that pass - now that would be a great read in a book! At worst, the last picture may implicate someone!

Whether they are mad or good, once they're past, give a flash of high beam to tell them it's safe to pull back in. Take into account the back of their "rig" may be 25 metres behind them & they appreciate help here. Even the loony may have some redeeming thoughts. If your action is appreciated the truckie will flash his indicators (side to side) as a thank you.

Hope this helps the non-UHF & UHF people.

Thanks to Peter Reed for sharing this.


january 2009