A new appreciation for our heavy haulers

Submitted: Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 08:38
ThreadID: 78561 Views:3185 Replies:10 FollowUps:12
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Well I survived the first the first day of my HC licence course. The ten hour day had me second guessing decisions that came naturally earlier in the day, things like the correct sequence for hitching and unhitching trailers.

Interestingly enough, I've driven non stop Adelaide to Alice Springs (15-16 hrs) before in a car several times and NEVER did I feel as mentally drained as I did yesterday after 10 hours, and that 10 hours included several breaks.

All the things I was told while growing up by my dad, who used to drive trucks, all made sense. I always knew not to dart in front of trucks when slowing down, all extra room when a truck indicates to change lanes, avoid sudden moves when in front of a truck...and the list goes on. Well I always did those things because "Dad told me so". Yesterday I realised just why.

That was the second part of the day. The first part was a baptism of fire where I was rudely introduced to a chap by the name of Eaton. Commonly known by his fiends (yes fiends NOT friends) as "r. Oh I forgot to include synchros." Now I know why trucks slow down to 20kmph long before a corner. Breaking, shifting gears while double clutching and matching revs is a bit much to ask while coasting around a corner, hence, it all needs to be done before the truck even reaches the corner.

Simple things like reversing around a corner become so much more difficult when the tail end of your load is 25 plus metres behind you. Distance is very hard to gauge out of a convex mirror.

Anyway, for now, I have a left leg like popeye's arm, I'm shifting gears in my sleep and my toe nails got trimmed by the engine fan after I jumped back into my manual 4 cylinder buzz box. I live to survive another day, so Wednesday, I'm back at it for another 10 hours of punishment.

Hats off to all you truckies, no matter how big or far you drive. I guess at the end of the day, you're Exploring Oz too.....just in a different rig.

Keep the black stuff underneath, and the blue stuff up above.
Fab.
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Reply By: Member - Christopher P (NSW) - Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 09:39

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 09:39
Good stuff. I went for a HR license years ago. I'm stuck in MR land. Even that was an Interesting experience. But yes, As a Big truck driver you have to relearn everything.

I got told to jump in and play around with a 13 speed road ranger and i had no experience. that was fun.

Good Luck With everything and All the best wishes.

P.S i presume you got all 144 questions right????
AnswerID: 417116

Follow Up By: Fab72 - Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 10:12

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 10:12
Chris... 100% in the first exam and 98% in the second. All the compulsory Give Way stuff was 100%.
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Follow Up By: Member - Christopher P (NSW) - Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 10:16

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 10:16
Sweet results. You have to be happy with that. Good work Mate. Good work
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Reply By: Member - Kevin J (Sunshine Coa - Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 09:40

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 09:40
Fab,

Can relate to what you are experiencing. Isn't it amazing how our level of appreciation changes when we are actually able to sit in the other guys seat.

There is certainly nothing easy about driving one of the big rigs and I can understand why those that do get upset when people with a "C" class can take a family sedan and a 25' van onto the highways without having to do even an elementary test.

Trust your nerves can stand the next session.

Kevin J
AnswerID: 417117

Reply By: Member - DAZA (QLD) - Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 10:22

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 10:22
G/Day All

I to have a great respect for Truckies, it's a pity the average car driver doesn't, I have had my HR for many years, I managed to get it while working for the local govt, and as mentioned I cannot understand why people who tow Caravans are not made to have a compulsory Driving / Towing Test, maybe in the future perhaps.

Cheers
AnswerID: 417126

Follow Up By: OREJAP - Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 13:24

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 13:24
I don't believe that the average person disrespects truckies I think the way life is at the moment people (some/most) just disrespect each other in to much of a hurry,didn't think whatever it happens in all walks of life. I would like to see compulsory licence testing for "Trailer towers" & mandatory testing of people who are teaching others to drive!! A person should be required to undergo testing prior to teaching someone else to drive. You could be the worst driver but,being the holder of a full driver's licence you can teach someone how to drive!!! I believe that if I want to teach my son or daughter to drive I should have to prove to the driving authorities that I am capable of doing so and that is by proving my proficiency at practical & theory exams. Maybe not as involved as the learner but should be assessed as capable. The present situation is a Grandfather/mother who has held a licence for 60 years can teach a someone else to drive? Are there people out there that are teaching Learners bad habits & bad practises due to the lack of their own knowledge...you betcha!!
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Reply By: Dave B ( BHQ NSW) - Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 10:40

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 10:40
Now you will have a lot more tyres to kick Fab.

It's serious stuff guiding 60 plus tonne down the road in amongst others that don't understand.

Dave
'Wouldn't be dead for quids'

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AnswerID: 417130

Reply By: ob - Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 14:11

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 14:11
Hi Fab72

Was part of the course showing how to get that pesky caravan tower out of your way by placing your bullbar 2 inches off the back of his van and laying on the air horns???????????
AnswerID: 417143

Follow Up By: Fab72 - Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 14:22

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 14:22
Haha....the aluminium road block? Nah, far from it. It did teach me how to judge car driver's movements. Eg: if you see a driver scanning their mirrors, it usually means they are about to change lanes. Or, if you see their right arm move from the top of the door trim, they're about to indicate a turn. Also, if a car stops up the clacker of your trailer and you can't see them in your mirrors, confirm their presence by searching for their shadow.

The instructor I had was amazing. 25 years on the road had taught him how to predict the behaviour of car/bike drivers/riders and other truck drivers.
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Follow Up By: Member - Mark G Gulmarrad - Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 14:35

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 14:35
ob

Just having read your reply i thought "here we go again". then i give you the benefit of the doubt and told myself that this guy must have had a bad experience with a truck?.

As a heavy vehicle driver myself for over 20 years ( clean driving record to boot) i realise there are still the cowboy element among us who do the wrong thing.in saying that there are twice as many( maybe more) of cars and their drivers doing the wrong thing too.Drivers like myself go to work each day to strive to do the right thing and realise we have to share our WORK PLACE with the average motorist who have all different levels of driving skill.

The trouble is that the caravan towing motorist has no where to go and all day to get there and the truck driver has very limited time to make his destination to make his time slot.( the new fatique laws were supposed to eliminate these time slots?????.....but tha'ts another topic).I myself do call the van (if posted on the rear of the van : uhf call number) to let them know i will be overtaking them in the next overtaking lane), which i think is appreciated.

With all the new highway work being carried out between Newcastle and Brisbane it should help to eliminate some of the congestion hassles we all experience on the highway we at present now have.

Next time a truck comes up behind you( and you have a uhf) call the driver up and have a chat with him(or her...plenty of those in the industry now).Most of us are justlike you guys out there and enjoy travelling around this country ( although we get paid to do so ) :-)))

See ya's on the road,cheers.
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Follow Up By: ob - Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 14:55

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 14:55
Spot on Mark, I should have taken the time to add a smiley face or lol.
Yes I do have a HR licence and also tow a van and yes I do call the trucky coming up behind me and let him know I am aware he is there. He has a time table and I am on holidays..........said that to a south bound on GEH just out of Carnarvon, his response was "go on rub it in and I suppose you have a freezer full as well"....all in good fun.
A bit more communication and a bit less agro from both sides.
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Follow Up By: ob - Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 14:58

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 14:58
How about GNH not GEH

Where is that pill bottle??????
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Follow Up By: Dave B ( BHQ NSW) - Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 15:18

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 15:18
Just reading fabs description of interpreting various drivers movements to anticipate what they are likely to do.
I always remember a quote by Stirling Moss many tears ago when we had to give hand signals for stopping or turning right.
He said
" the only thing that you know for sure when a woman gives a hand signal, is that the window is open !!!"

Now I will duck for cover ;>)

Dave
'Wouldn't be dead for quids'

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Follow Up By: ob - Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 15:39

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 15:39
Dave you brave brave foolish fellow.....lol
Our office window overlooks a busy highway and it never ceases to amaze me the number of drivers and passengers mostly male and mostly young that insist on having one arm dangling out of the window while the car is in motion.
I've wondered if they are trying to give a signal of some sort or just drying their nail polish
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Follow Up By: get outmore - Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 16:37

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 16:37
yep I was driving alongside a fully loaded B double heading for the GNH just out of midland approachng a green light and suddenly he started braking and going back through the gears nice and smooth and pulled up at the lights just as they went green-orange red makes you realize how much more attention they pay
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Reply By: Member - Roachie (SA) - Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 20:22

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 20:22
I hear what you're saying Fab!!!

Last July, after being made redundant by NAB after almost 40 years, I decided to get my HR licence, just to add another dimension to my possible job applications. I live in a small country town in SA, so it was pretty easy to manage the traffic and learn the foibles of an aging Roadranger box (that felt like a crowbar poking out of a box filled with marbles!!! hahaha).

I got my licence and then never needed to drive a truck until last month. I had some furniture and other stuff I needed to pick up from Adelaide. I hired a largish (8 tonne) pantech from Cut Price Truck Rentals in Mile End....an inner city industrial area of Adelaide. I left home at about 6am, drove to Mile End, completed all the paperwork, got the keys to the truck, and left their yard at 8.25am....PEAK HOUR!!! hahaha

Fortunately it was only a 7 speed syncro box, so I didn't have to grind too many cogs during the trip to 4 different pick-up docks, then 2 hours home; unload then another 2 hours back to Adelaide...arriving back at 5pm: PEAK HOUR again!!!

My nerves were frazzled by the end of the day, but as I climbed back into the Subaru to drive back home in the late afternoon, I felt a great deal of satisfaction.

Car drivers just don't seem to understand the "lot" of a truck driver and I think they all deserve great credit for avoiding rear-ending more blind car drivers....
AnswerID: 417185

Follow Up By: get outmore - Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 01:01

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 01:01
when doing my Semi test the route went through brompton and out onto port road

Peak hour was great

after waiting for nearly 1/2m an hour to be able to turn out of the sidestreet he cut the test short and a fair chunk of the circuit got skipped including the part I was dreading with the hill climb and splitting the gears going up
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Reply By: Member - Laurie K (WA) - Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 21:47

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 21:47
I tow a large van (I live on the road), and have found that a conversation with a following truck driver will nearly always convert what feels like an aggressive situation to one where they know that you will help them thru as soon as safe, and the attitude of the truckie invariably mellows.

I also always advise them as soon as the end of the 32nd trailer (LOL) is past me that they are clear, thus letting them know that they can move back to the LHS of the road safely asap. They certainly seem to appreciate that I am trying to work with them and not against them.

cheers
Laurie Kibblewhite

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AnswerID: 417202

Reply By: ChipPunk - Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 22:57

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 22:57
Does this mean somebody else knows that "give way to the right" and roundabouts have nothing to do with each other (in terms of road rules)?

If only more took up trucker skills and habits.

I still smile when I get the old left-right-left.
AnswerID: 417206

Reply By: Ray - Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 08:45

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 08:45
I do a lot of caravanning and hold a HR license and used to have a F class (PCV). I have a UHF radio in my car and a sign "CH 40" on the rear of my caravan. My wife strongly objects to me having the radio on due to all the foul language that is used mainly by truckies so I only turn it on when a truck is near. I may sound a bit of a prude but I believe that if the truckies were to tone down their language more people would use their radios. Foul language is also illegal on the air.
Don't get me wrong I have a great respect for truckies being a retired truckie and bus driver myself but bad language on the air is not necessary. Remember children also have ears.
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Follow Up By: GlennD - Friday, May 21, 2010 at 00:33

Friday, May 21, 2010 at 00:33
So has your Mrs banned you from watching TV as well
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Reply By: SDG - Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 23:54

Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 23:54
Believe it or not, but gaining a bike licence also teaches you similar skills on how to read other drivers. Main difference there is that your looking after your own skin. And yes I know there are also some ratbag riders out there. I also have the HC, so good on you.
AnswerID: 417740

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