WA Police and other state industry stakeholders are calling for truckies to stop flicking their right indicator to signal to cars behind that it is safe to overtake.
In response to a spate of recent near misses in the state, police sergeant Bernie McConnachie told Perth talkback radio show, 6PR Breakfast, that it’s time to stop the common practice.
“I think it’s time to stop the courtesy indicate,” said McConnachie.
“There has been a huge increase in those near misses. The ultimate responsibility of being on the road and being a responsible driver comes back to the person in charge of the motor car.
“You can’t leave that responsibility to someone else.”
McConnachie told host Gareth Parker that she’d seen first-hand how dangerous the practice is just recently when another motorist had indicated it was safe for her to pass, when it clearly wasn’t.
“It makes me quite upset that people think it’s okay for them to make the decision for other people around them.
“Make the decision for yourself. Make sure it’s safe. If you want to overtake one of the big road trains, drop back so you can see around them then overtake when it’s safe on a nice long straight stretch of road where you can safely get around them.
“It might take a bit more time, but you’ll get to the other end.”
McConnachie says motorists can feel a sense of obligation to pass when they see the indicator from trucks, but it’s not always what the signal means.
“Quite frequently they [the truckies] are actually turning right into a mine site, into a truck bay, into something, and then it’s certainly not safe at all, and they don’t have the maneuverability of a car.”
Chamber of Minerals and Energy north-west officer Meghan Brouwer told ABC News that mining companies were receiving an increasing number of reports of dangerous close calls.
“Trucks have been turning right into mine-site entrances only to have other vehicles attempt to overtake at the same time,” Brouwer said.
Experienced WA truckie Heather Jones, CEO of Pilbara Heavy Haulage Girls, told ABC News that she has had her own near misses when people misinterpreted her turn signal.
“A few years ago I had a four-and-a-half metre wide load on my truck, and the pilot in front of me said, ‘There’s a cow on the road’, so I put my right indicator on to move into the other lane,” Jones said.
“Next minute, there’s fluff and dirt and everything is flying around — it was a lady in a car who thought I put my indicator on for her to go past me.
“People don’t know it’s illegal — the amount of drivers you mention this to, they have absolutely no idea.”
WA Road Safety Commissioner Adrian Warner said two-way radios were a safer way for truck drivers and other road users to communicate.
“It’s a convention people have got used to doing, and it’s a reflection of courtesy and sharing the road, which we would usually promote — but it can be dangerous,” Warner said.
Our Spy on the Road columnist highlighted the same issue for Queensland truckies in a column published earlier this year.
He was told by a Transport and Main Roads spokesperson that anyone caught indicating it was safe to pass would receive an on-the-spot fine of $55.