At this time of year the subject of the death toll on our roads comes to the front of the mind. The madness on the highways around Easter sees thousands of car drivers travelling too far, for too long on unfamiliar roads in overloaded or badly loaded cars. At the same time, the poor truckie has to try and do the job of keeping the supermarket shelves stacked high with goods for the Easter rush.
The kind of driving behaviour exhibited by some car drivers in holiday mode taking on cross country trips exemplifies one of the major causes of mayhem on our roads, drivers being unaware of other vehicles on the road and feeling safely cocooned in the comfort of a modern car with all of the safety systems available.
Countless campaigns fail to make any impression on driver psychology around trucks. Being unaware of a vehicle nearby is extremely dangerous at the best of times, when the vehicle is a truck, it is a disaster waiting to happen. Making manoeuvres assuming the truck will move out of the way, slow down or stop constitutes risk-taking behaviour. Most of the problems which occur stem from car drivers’ lack of awareness and knowledge.
Luckily for them, and the road toll figures, the truck driver is aware, very aware. They have had plenty of experience compensating for the lack of knowledge among car drivers and have to assume the car driver’s behaviour will endanger everyone’s life.
For truck drivers the inherent danger involved in travelling the highway is always front of mind. Being attached to the front of a massive lump of metal and material weighing 60 plus tonnes at 100 km/h, with a minimum stopping distance of 100 metres on a good day, concentrates the mind wonderfully.
How can we engender this kind of fear into the car driving population? How come the general public feel fear when another ‘monster trucks’ story appears on A Current Affair, but drive their cars oblivious to the potential danger all around them? Where is the education going to come from, or do we just have to live with some dangerous drivers in cars putting all of our lives at risk?