“Five per cent of truck drivers are idiots – and five per cent of caravanners are idiots, too.” That’s how one traveller diplomatically summed up the conflict between truckies and caravanners.
Personally, I thought this gentleman, whom I met at a local caravan park, was being a bit generous to both parties. But as he was an ex-truckie-turned-grey-nomad, he was more qualified to comment than me, so I didn’t argue.The conversation had begun when I enquired about his touring rig. I’m looking for a new tow vehicle and take every opportunity to pick the brains of fellow caravanners.
He acknowledged that his rig was probably a bit underpowered, but added that he drove it accordingly — always keeping an eye on the rear vision mirror, and moving over mindfully to allow faster vehicles to pass.
A recent weekend away highlighted the fact that not all caravanners and motorhomers are as considerate as this bloke. RVs are in plague proportions in North Qld at the moment (who can blame them?) and while the majority are aware of what’s happening on the highway around them, a handful bumble their way along at 70km/h, oblivious to the frustrated drivers lined up behind them.
Now, I’m not suggesting you should be hurtling down the highway at 100km/h if your rig isn't comfortable doing so, but there are ways to minimise the disruption you cause if you do travel slowly.
First and foremost: don’t overload your tow vehicle. Check the rated towing capacity of the vehicle and match it to the weight of your van. If necessary, weigh your van at a public weighbridge and don’t forget to add extra for clothes, food, water, etc.
Second: choose the correct towing gear to suit your van. Correctly fitted and adjusted load distribution gear can make a massive difference to the stability and safety of a travelling rig.
Good rear vision is also essential. Fit mirrors that give you a clear, wide-angled view down both sides of your rig. While I haven’t used one, I imagine rear mounted cameras are the ultimate way to see what’s behind you.As for driving habits, I reckon the most important is to continually check the rear vision mirrors. That way, you’ll know if there’s a line of traffic behind, or if a massive semi-trailer is about to fly past, buffeting your rig and frightening the hell out of you. And you’ll know if your rig is travelling well, too.If you are holding up the traffic, move over or stop regularly, in safe conditions, to let them pass.
You should also drive at a consistent speed. It’s really frustrating being stuck behind a rig doing 80km/h on a windy section of road and then having it speed up to the legal limit on the straight sections or at overtaking lanes. If anything, slightly reduce your speed at overtaking lanes to give built-up traffic a chance to pass. Once again, it’s essential to monitor the rear vision mirrors.And for Heaven’s sake, leave plenty of room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front so that passing cars can immediately slot back into the line of traffic. If you’re travelling in convoy with other RVs, spread out so you don’t clutter long sections of highway.
According to our traveller's estimation, 95% of readers already practice the above. They’ll be the ones enjoying safer and more relaxed travel, with minimal conflict with truckies and other road users.Of the remaining 5%, some might still be learning, whereas some, unfortunately, will be fully-fledged idiots who shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the wheel. And they’re the ones who get noticed by truckies and other road users, giving the rest of us a bad name.