It has been going on for sometime, but the war between caravans and trucks seems to be continuing, as it always has. However there is some light at the end of the tunnel, there is an initiative being organised by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator and the Caravanning Industry Association of Australia to try and improve relations between the two competing groups.
There is a long tradition of a lack of understanding, some fear and some animosity between the two groups. The main battleground? This must be the parking bays of Australia’s highways, where space is always at the premium and both truck drivers and caravaners feel hard done by.
Another aspect of the ongoing animosity is taking place out on the highways. Truck drivers regard many caravaners as dangerous and inconsiderate, at the same time as caravaners consider truck drivers as dangerous and inconsiderate. It would appear that there a little bit of fault on both sides and that some effort should be made to take the heat out of the situation, especially in the run up to the busy season later in the year.
The new Co-Exist website is an initiative by the CIA and the NHVR. It features videos to explain truck behaviour to caravaners. This site features a number of information and interesting features to give caravaners more information about how to interact with trucks without causing this animosity.
One of the videos features Rod Hannifey, described as described as a Heavy Vehicle Road Safety Evangelist, he has been attending caravanning events for several years trying to take the heat out of the situation and to further inform the caravanning community about the best way to interact with the trucking community.
In the video he concentrates upon the rest area issue which occur every night in a parking bay somewhere in Australia. Caravans and camper vans often park in a way which minimises the amount of room available for truck drivers who are obligated by law to stop for a certain number of hours every day in order to manage their fatigue.
This kind of initiative is probably the only way the trucking industry can get an improvement in the behaviour of caravaners in these areas. There is very little possibility that road authorities, who design build and maintain the limited number of parking areas that we do have, will do much to improve the situation themselves.
The road authorities have to work in a way that their political masters approve of and are willing to fund. From the point of view of the political class car drivers pulling caravans represent votes and need to have their rights protected, but for some reason truck drivers are not seen as a section of the voting community.
Of course, it would be great if B-double driver arriving in a parking bay late in the evening needing to take the seven hours rest could be certain that there would be space to safely park the truck and get some sleep. It would also be a good idea if the driver could get out of their truck and politely ask the caravan to move to a more suitable location in the parking bay to make some room. It would also be great if they got a helpful reply.
The situation needs to improve, but all of the time all governments around Australia ignore the drastic short fall in decent parking areas on highways, there will always be friction.