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Heavy vehicle drivers are proud of their safe driving records, but at the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, we know some people might feel a little intimidated by sharing the road with them.

Trucks are difficult to manoeuvre, have large blind spots and constantly have to navigate unpredictable traffic. Yet four out of five fatal accidents involving heavy vehicles are not the heavy vehicle driver’s fault.

Join us in promoting safety by sharing these videos with your friends and family. Let’s all give Australia’s truck drivers the space they need to keep us safe.

Video - Don't overtake a turning truck

 

Vehicle signs

Trucks and other vehicles over 7.5 metres long that have a DO NOT OVERTAKE TURNING VEHICLE sign on the back are legally allowed to take up more than one lane to turn at corners, intersections and roundabouts. They can even use a right turn only lane to turn left or a left turn only lane to turn right.

So whether you’re turning left, right or you’re at a roundabout, don’t drive past or overtake a turning truck until you’re absolutely sure it’s safe to do so.

 

Why shouldn’t you overtake a turning truck?

 

Trucks’ front and back wheels are so far apart, they often need to swing wide when they turn. They may need to use two or more lanes. They’ll start to move across towards their turning lane as soon as they can to let you know you need to give them space.

 

Once the truck starts to turn, its mirrors will no longer be directed at the road behind. The driver won’t be able to see you, even if you’re a safe following distance away.

 

If you move into the space inside the turning truck, you may get hit. It might look like there’s plenty of room, but the gap will close quickly once the truck starts to turn.

 

What should you do if a truck indicates to turn?

  1. Give the truck driver the space they need to make the turn. Even if it looks like the left or right turn lane is vacant, hang back so they can see you and you’re out of harm’s way.
  2. Be patient. Wait until the truck has completed its turn before you continue on your way.
  3. If a truck is turning into the road you’re in, stay well back from the intersection to give
    the driver more road space.

 

 

 

Video - Keep out of truck blind spots

 

Truck blind spots

Trucks may be higher off the road than cars and have bigger mirrors but that doesn’t mean their drivers have a better view of what’s going on around them. Trucks actually have much bigger blind spots than cars.

If you’re in a truck’s blind spot, the driver won’t know you’re there. So if they suddenly have to brake or change lanes, you’re at risk of a collision.

Learn where a truck’s blind spots are, don’t linger beside a truck, and give truck drivers the space they need to keep you and everyone else on the road safe.

Learn where the blind spots are

Trucks have four blind spots:

  • immediately in front of the truck
  • beside the driver’s door
  • directly behind the truck
  • on the passenger’s side, from the door extending out across three lanes along the length of the truck.

If you have to drive through these areas to pass a truck, make sure you’re far enough behind for the truck driver to see you, indicate early, and then pass as quickly as is safe to do so without breaking the speed limit.

Truck blind spots

If you can’t see my mirrors I can’t see you

Truck drivers rely on their side mirrors to see what’s happening around them.

If you can’t see the truck’s mirrors, you’re most likely in a blind spot and therefore ‘invisible’. If the driver has to take evasive action to avoid a potential accident, they may collide with you. Be patient and keep a safe following distance.

Watch for signals

When you’re driving close behind a truck in slower traffic, not only can the truck driver not see you but you can’t see what’s happening up ahead.

Watch for the truck’s indicators and brake lights so you’re ready to slow down if the truck turns, slows or stops.

Video - overtake trucks safely

 

Be patient when overtaking

It’s easy to become frustrated when you’re ‘stuck’ behind a truck going uphill or there aren’t many passing opportunities. Don’t be tempted to take a massive risk to get to your destination just that tiny bit earlier. If you try to overtake at the wrong time, you may not get there at all.

Be patient. If you’re on a single-carriageway road, wait for an overtaking lane wherever you can. If there’s no overtaking lane, wait for a long, straight stretch of road with a clear view ahead. Never try to overtake on a curve or hill, or when you can’t see past the truck, even if it’s moving slowly.

Maintain a safe following distance

That’s at least two seconds behind the truck; more if the weather’s bad or it’s dark. Staying this far back means you’re more likely to see oncoming traffic and overtaking opportunities. Remember, some trucks are so long you may need as much as five kilometres to overtake them.

Don’t linger by the truck

When it looks like it’s safe to pass, start to close the gap, then indicate and pass as quickly as possible without breaking the speed limit. If you linger by the truck, you may be in their blind spot.

Don’t cut in front of the truck

Maintain your speed and only pull back in when you can see both the truck’s headlights in your rear-view mirror.

Always allow plenty of time when you overtake, so you don’t have to cut in suddenly and cause trucks to brake hard or swerve off the road.

Overtaking a truck safely