The term ‘heavy vehicles’ is applied generally to the trucks, B-doubles and road trains that transport goods across and around Australia; and it also includes buses, trams, agricultural machinery, livestock transporters, tankers, grain and delivery trucks and other long and possibly slow moving vehicles on our roads.
View South Australian heavy vehicle statistics. (PDF)
Heavy vehicles have different safety requirements to other vehicles. There are special road rules and added responsibilities that apply to both the drivers of heavy vehicles and to those who share the road with them.
A heavy or long vehicle displaying a “Do Not Overtake Turning Vehicle” sign is allowed to use either or both lanes, if necessary, to turn left or right safely, if it is safe to do so and the vehicle is within 50 metres of an intersection.
You must not overtake a vehicle displaying a “Do Not Overtake Turning Vehicle” sign if it is signalling and in the process of turning, because of the high risk of crashing into the turning vehicle
To make overtaking safer where the road has only one lane each way, long vehicles must keep at least 60m apart, except when overtaking. On a road-train route, the minimum distance is 200m.
Long vehicles are 7.5m or longer, including any overhanging load. This criterion applies to most trucks and also applies to cars towing caravans or trailers.
There has been a significant increase in the numbers of heavy and long vehicles on our roads over the past 20 years, a trend that is continuing in response to growing demand and supply of goods.
|Road users should be aware of heavy vehicle manoeuvrability and adapt their driving behaviour accordingly|
|Braking distance is the distance travelled by the vehicle once the brakes have been applied. This distance is much greater for heavy vehicles, including buses, due to their additional weight. Keeping clear of heavy vehicles that are stopping will help prevent crashes.|
|Take extra care when you enter a road or change lanes in front of a heavy vehicle. Leave plenty of road space, as their additional weight also requires greater slowing distance.|
|Many trucks carry loads that could be dangerous either through fire, explosion, corrosion or radioactivity. Information about what is being carried is indicated on the vehicle’s emergency information panels.|
Take extra care when overtaking a truck carrying a dangerous load
In a built-up area, you must give way to any bus displaying the give way sign if the bus is indicating to move out from the kerb. On a multi-lane road, this only applies to vehicles travelling in the left lane.
However, if the left lane is a bicycle lane or is obstructed e.g. by a parked car, drivers in the lane next to the left lane must also give way.
Do not obstruct the safe and clear passage of trams. Drivers must follow these rules when sharing the road with trams:
Many heavy vehicles travel at night when it is more difficult to judge their speed and distance from you. When following a heavy vehicle that you intend to overtake, stay well back from the rear of the vehicle while waiting for a safe overtaking opportunity. This will allow you to see further along the road past the heavy vehicle without having to move significantly to the right. It also allows vehicles approaching from the opposite direction to see you earlier.
Drivers on country roads should take extra care when overtaking long vehicles.
Road trains can be up to 54 metres long and 2.5 metres wide, with up to three trailers and should only be overtaken with extreme caution:
Slow moving vehicles, including cyclists and large agricultural machinery, such as tractors and harvesters, may be encountered on country roads.
Overtaking lanes are provided on some rural highways, in particular the Dukes Highway (A8), National Highway (A1) between Port Wakefield and Port Augusta and the Sturt Highway (A20). They give drivers of faster vehicles the opportunity to safely pass slower moving vehicles.
When in an overtaking lane, you must:
Drivers of buses of more than 5 tonnes Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) and heavy vehicles of more than 12 tonnes GVM must not exceed 100 km/h even if the general speed limit is higher. Road trains are limited to a maximum speed of 90 km/h. A longer or wider vehicle may have a lower maximum speed limit as a condition of its permit of travel.
Fatigue is an important health and safety issue for heavy vehicle drivers. An Australian survey in 2000 found that 45% of long distance heavy vehicle drivers had experienced fatigue during their last trip.
Surveys and roadside tests indicate that about one in five heavy vehicle drivers use stimulants on at least some trips, to improve their alertness and driving performance, combat fatigue and cope with extremely demanding work schedules. However, it appears that their use has reduced over the last 15 years. Stimulants include:
The South Australian Government is committed to the introduction of a heavy vehicle inspection scheme to identify, monitor and mitigate un-roadworthiness of heavy vehicles on South Australian roads.
As part of Operation Moving Traffic, extended clearways will be installed on Glen Osmond Road, Fullarton Road and Main North Road to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion during the morning and afternoon peak periods.
Major construction works for the upgrade of Main South Road, between Old Coach Road and Malpas Road, are now complete.
The Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) will be improving safety at the junction of Swanport Road, Bridge Street and Mannum Road, Murray Bridge by widening the intersection for vehicles turning in and out of Bridge Street.