A very concerned
outback-based driver sent me the following email and his advice
could be the difference between life and death for someone towing a caravan on outback roads
This is not a question but
some advice for your clients. I have been driving in Western
Queensland for the past 15 years as an employee of a large organisation.
I travel from Mt Isa to Cunnamulla, from Torrens Creek to Birdsville
on all the roads in between.
I have noticed, particularly during the last two years, an increasing
lack of knowledge on behalf of RV drivers and caravans in general,
on the correct procedure to use when passing oncoming traffic
on single lane bitumen roads.
These are by the most dangerous
for larger vehicles. One thing you learn out here very quickly,
whether you like it or not, is that might is right.
Always give the road to the
larger vehicle. The mighty triple road train comes first, then
the B double, then the flat top truck, then the Caravans &
RV's, then me in my ute. Using this principle I have survived
with nary a scare let alone an accident. Until now!
(1) On a recent trip from
Boulia to Winton I was involved in three events, one of which
was very nearly a huge accident. In the first instance I approached
a caravan being towed by a Sahara at a distance of 1/2 mile or
so. I slowed down to 60k and moved my left hand wheels off the
bitumen to the verge and slowly approached, allowing the van
to use the remaining bitumen without getting his left hand wheels
of the shoulder. The "gentleman" from Victoria, or
so his plates indicated, activated his left turning indicator
some 200 yards from me and pulled off the bitumen and came to
a stop. With a wildly gesticulating arm pointing over the roof
of the Sahara and flashing his lights. Well, out here that means
he might need help so I stopped beside him, after checking the
road was clear both ways, and began to ask if he required help.
I copped the best serve I have ever had, and was accused of disrespecting
his kind offer for me to take the road, as he called it, and
proceed. I presume he intended me to continue on the bitumen,
while he pulled over for me, in a ute!. Remember this bloke is
towing a fairly large van, probably around 2.5 to 3 tons with
a drop-off of some two metres on his left. I was so taken aback,
he had driven off before I collected my wits to reply. By the
way he didn't answer channel 40 either.
(2) Continuing on I came to
the Diamantina Channels just west of Middleton. These channels
have a good dual carriage of bitumen but have only single lane
bridges with a give way sign facing west bound traffic, I don't
know why they face east they just do. On approaching the last
crossing before the
Middleton Hotel I began to move to the centre of the road to
pass over the one lane bridge. A Falcon towing a small van was
approaching from the east and had the give way sign against him.
I noticed he was also in the middle of the road and appeared
not to have noticed the give way signs. I slowed to assess the
situation as I still had enough room to stop. This goose flashed
his lights at me and accelerated onto the bridge, taking my right
of way. I pulled over to the side and stopped as he went past.
I indicated to him to stop, which he did. I approached him and
asked if he had seen the give way sign. "What sign?".
"That sign" I pointed, "You don't have give way
signs in the bush you take turns when crossing these bridges"
was his reply. I asked what would have happened if I had been
a B Triple loaded with sheep. He would be dead that's what. He
realized his folly by apologising. He was from Victoria too.
(3) 50k out of Winton and
I am feeling less wary now, silly me. Here comes a large blue
RV with a B triple, laden with cattle, a couple of hundred yards
behind him. I can see the road train and again apply the same
procedure as always, slow to 60k, move to the verge and allow
the RV and the train to pass. Guess what, the RV slows and pulls
of to the left to allow me the road. What he does not know because
he never checked his rear view mirror, is the road train is now
virtually on top of him with me about to pass the same point.
I took instant evasive action and moved down onto the table drain
allowing the road train to take my side of the road to pass this
idiot. How the B triple did not clip the back of the RV I will
Safely past, channel 40 was full of thanks from the road train
driver with some very caustic advice for the RV driver needless
to say he did not acknowledge either. Oh guess where the RV was
registered, yep Victoria.
Out of curiosity I have spoken
to some tourists in the parks here in town and asked them how
they would pass oncoming vehicles on single lane bitumen roads,
without fail all answered the same. Pull over to the left stop
and let the on coming vehicle pass. I asked from whence they
had received this information. The reply was "from caravan
clubs, other van drivers and magazines"
Can someone please give advice
to prospective tourists in RV's and vans on the correct way to
drive on single lane bitumen roads. They might get home alive,
but I doubt it after what I have just seen.