Tips from a truckie on how to stay safe on the roads
EVERYONE wants to get home safely to their families at Christmas time.
The highways are always choc-a-block with traffic this time of year, so social media star and truckie Tony Fulton, who you might know through the Facebook page Tones Truckin' Stories, has offered up seven tips in seven days to help you get to your destination much safer.
TONY's first tip is all about distances.
Tony said when you're driving a car and a caravan, it's important to keep a distance between you and the vehicle in front.
"The best rule of thumb I've got for you is the two second rule," he said.
"Pick something on the side of the road and count two seconds. That's the distance you're meant to have between you and the vehicle in front.
"The other one around trucks is they need around five seconds to stop, so keep that in mind if you're going to merge in front of them because at that distance they need 200m at 100km and close to 100m at 60km.
"You don't want one of these big boys ploughing up ya."
TONY wants to talk about overtaking lanes.
"The roads are going to be a lot heavier in these Christmas periods so keep in mind if you're going a bit slow, you're towing a caravan or you don't know the roads that well, especially on single lane highways, if you hit that overtaking lane there's nothing stopping you from backing it off," he said.
"Shut it down to 60 and let's get that traffic passed. These things (trucks) take a bit of time to wind up but I tell ya what, once they're passed you you will not see them again.
"So just keep that in mind and let 'em get around."
NOW it's time to talk about blind spots around trucks.
"Yes, (blind spots) are a flaw in trucks but it's something we've got to deal with so just keep that one in mind when you're out in the roads this Christmas," Tony said.
Standing in front of the cab, Tony said truckies sitting inside couldn't see him, especially those inside bonneted trucks.
He said blind spots were also on the left-hand side of the truck and even the right.
"If you're coming up and indicating to get in the driving is not going to see you and even once you get in there, he or she might not even know that you're there and that's when accidents happen.
"So just keep in mind the old line of if you can't see your mirrors, I can't see you. That's all well and good but just because you can see a mirror at times the driver might not be able to see you without standing up."
TONY'S fourth tip is about rest hours and fatigue.
"A lot of drivers aren't used to the long trips and it's going to be heavy out there too so it's important to keep your fatigue levels in check," he said.
"Stay well hydrated and the rule of thumb is every couple of hours pull over, stretch your legs, grab something to eat.
"Rest areas are obviously for when you get too tired, so pull over and go to bed. But with the high volume of traffic we're going to have this Christmas period a lot of cars are going to be sharing with trucks so it's important we work together.
"When you pull into a rest area, try and get right out of the way because a lot of trucks come in at about 11pm or midnight and they want to be able to come in and get a spot.
"It's going to be a lot safer for everyone because you don't want a truck to come in and then have to drive another half-an-hour to find somewhere to go to bed."
The other thing to keep in mind, Tony said, was don't drive when you're normally not awake.
"Don't push yourself to the limits if you're used to getting up at 7am and going to work. That's probably about the time you want to get driving. Doing the 2 o'clock leap is not good because you're not conditioned for it."
THIS one is "ultra-important" reckons Tony and has to do with safety checks on your cars and vehicles before you leave.
"A lot of caravans are going to be sitting there for six months or more so check the tyres, check the bearings, grease your car, do a service, check your water, your oil.
"It's going to be hot and you'll possibly be out on highways where you're going to be looking at 40 to 50 degrees out on the road.
"So, make sure your car is in check, you don't want to be calling the RACQ to come out and fix you, so it's important to have that car checked before you go."
"LET'S talk about consideration out on the roads," Tony said.
"Right, it's Christmas time, it's going to be bloody heavy out there so traffic is going to get held up that otherwise wouldn't normally.
"You've just got to show a little bit of patience, you don't need to be chopping in and out of lanes. After a couple million k's of driving one of these I've learnt that you can just sit in one lane and by the end of where you're going you're pretty well going to be there at the same time as that car you saw three back or four in front, so just show a little bit of patience.
"You're going to get there, everyone's in the same boat, let's just be a bit cautious about it."
TRUCKIE Tony Fulton reckons his last tip is the most important and that's about driving in a good mood.
"It really comes from the little things, you've got the kids in the car or something like that, they see one of these big boys (trucks) and they want to do the arm horn," he said.
"Let them do it because the kids love it, the truckie gets a kick out of it and you'll enjoy it too and that's half the battle won about driving in a good mood.
"You'll be a little bit more cautious and a bit more patient, everyone will be a lot happier and a lot safer on the roads.
"Merry Christmas and stay safe everyone, cheers!"