Truck Friendly program calls for more education for caravanners

The Truck Friendly – Caravan Road Safety Program is advocating for compulsory towing education for caravanners to help drive greater safety on our roads.

Headed up by caravan road safety researcher and campaigner Ken Wilson, the program continues to spread the message about how important it is for caravan users to properly share the road with trucks.

The Bundaberg local is calling for more incentives for caravan users to undertake safe towing education.

“Truck Friendly helps educate on interacting with heavy vehicles on the highways and safe towing practices for caravanners.”

On his Truck Friendly – Caravan Road Safety Program Facebook page, which now has a following of over 12,500 people, he posed the question: “Should we have compulsory towing education for drivers towing caravans, horse floats, boats, and other trailers over a certain size?”

“For one state to go it alone would be political and tourism suicide for that state, as tourists would avoid that state if they cannot legally tow their van there,” he said in the post.

The post received an overwhelming amount of feedback, with many voicing their support for drivers to undertake some form of driver towing education.

“There are almost weekly needless caravan rollovers and many within the industry estimate that approximately 70 per cent or more of all caravan rigs on the roads would be overweight in some respects. An overweight vehicle is unroadworthy and insurance can be voided. There is a definite need for more safe towing education,” Wilson said.

“While compulsory towing licences or endorsement may be suggested by many, the reality is that light vehicle licences are the responsibility of eight individual states and territories, and they currently can’t even agree on towing speeds and other road safety laws.

“The concentration should be on education for caravanners and the discounts for drivers who have completed a formal towing course and not on a separate licence as the logistics of bringing this in over six separate states and two territories will make it unworkable in the short term.”

Wilson, who volunteers his time to his Truck Friendly initiative, is calling for training organisations to develop an Australia wide hands-on caravan towing course so all trainers can teach to the same standard.

Along with advocating for education for caravan users, Wilson regularly shares information and insights into various aspects around trucking and how caravans can do the right thing by truckies out on the road.

Among his posts is one around the usage of UHFs, where he discusses the pros and cons for caravan users.

“Communication with other vehicles like trucks can be very helpful in overtaking and being overtaken, especially when used in conjunction with the ‘I’m Truck Friendly’ stickers. The knowledge that the other driver knows you will be overtaking or is overtaking allows for cooperation between vehicles to pull out, overtake and return to the lane safely,” he said.

“They are particularly useful around the central Qld and Western Australia mining communities where wide and very long trucks and road trains can share the roads.

“You will not hear the wide loads calling unless you have your UHF radio turned on and monitoring channel 40. Without it your will rely on a line of sight.

“There are some that don’t like them and others, like me who would not tow a van without one, it is personal choice. I like the extra safety that the UHF provides and have had some pretty funny buggers on the other end of a conversation that lighten you day,” Wilson continued.

Wilson has also explained to his followers what the green reflectors found on the side of some highways are used for.

“Approximately 500 metres from a safe place to pull over you may see 3 x Green reflectors, 250 meters you may see 2 x Green reflectors and just at the safe place you may see 1 x Green reflectors,” he said on his Facebook post.

“They were started by road safety advocate and truck driver Rod Hannifey as an aide for truck drivers to find a safe place to pull over if tired or to check the load etc. They are now in Qld, NSW and some in Victoria, I believe.”

Wilson added, “Truck Friendly is also advocating for lawful advertising of motor vehicles with many companies promoting the vehicle’s towing abilities with big glossy photos or videos of the vehicle towing a large caravan without the legally required towing mirrors, making the vehicle unroadworthy. This practise is against the advertising standards.”

Caravanners can support Wilson’s work on the Truck Friendly program by ordering a free ‘I’m Truck Friendly’ sticker through Wilson’s website. These can be collected at over 45 locations throughout Australia or posted for a fee.

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