How many times have you been blocked or delayed by a caravan or recreational vehicle (RV)? Have you come across a driver thought it’d be good to slow down so you can pass? What about convoys of vehicles travelling too close together? Or maybe you’ve pulled into a stop but found it full of campers?
If you have, then you should know about Truck Friendly. It’s a new driver education program that’s teaching caravan and RV drivers how to share the road with professional drivers. The man behind it is Queenslander Ken Wilson, a keen caravaner who got sick of seeing the aggravation and accidents that poor driving behaviour can cause.
“About four years ago I took the caravan to Port Douglas,” Ken recalls, “and I saw caravans travelling too close together in convoys, driving too slowly and holding up trucks, silly things like that.”
It inspired him to do something and now, after three years of research and consulting with truck drivers, insurers and government, the Truck Friendly website is live.
Get with the program
Becoming Truck Friendly is simple: recreational drivers can read the driving guides on the website, install a UHF radio in their vehicle, and put a Truck Friendly sticker on the back of their RV or caravan.
“We tried to personalise the information,” Ken says. “It’s all about helping truck drivers get home to their family, earn a living, and not spend extra hours on the road.”
The driving guides are easy to read and full of detailed, specific advice on important topics such as:
- Lights and communication
- Travelling in convoy
- Truck stops
- Being safe with trucks
They explain how road behaviour impacts professional drivers and emphasise courtesy and common sense.
Getting a UHF radio is a crucial part of the program, and the site suggests drivers place a sign on the back of their RV or caravan with their radio channel and callsign, so approaching trucks can make contact.
Finally, drivers can get a Truck Friendly sticker (the website has a list of distributors in every state) to let truck drivers know they’re paying attention and want to assist.
Best of all, the program has been a big success already. Launched on 19 June 2019, the website and Facebook page have had thousands of visits every week, getting the word out and spreading awareness. Lee Kernigan is a supporter and Ken has been delivering training sessions and seeking further funding to help spread the message.
Help them to help you
There are a couple of things Ken reckons professional drivers can do to help recreational drivers.
“When you see the Truck Friendly sign, give them some encouragement,” he says. “Let them know you’re coming up on them and want to get past, or just say g’day and thanks for being aware.”
While communicating with recreational road users about overtaking, stopping and the like is helpful safety-wise, Ken says simply being friendly is important for the program’s long-term success.
“If nobody hears anything from the professional drivers then they’re going to think it’s all a waste of time,” he says.
“We’re getting support from government, associations and insurers, and we’re looking for more backing so we can expand the program.”
It’s off to a great start, so do what you can to encourage recreational drivers to be Truck Friendly and help you get home on time and in one piece.