Most RV drivers and caravanners want to help other road users including the truck drivers, but as most of us have not actually been in, or driven a fully loaded semi-trailer on the highway, only a few of us know actually how we can help.
Many think they are helping when in fact may actually be making the situation worse by their lack of knowledge and understanding of what is needed.
There are many urban myths that travel through the caravan rest areas at drinks time.
Here are some ways that RV drivers and caravanners can be Truck Friendly and help other drivers on the highways.
Remember that when you attach a heavy caravan on to your car’s tow bar your car will sag at the rear to some extent. This will have the effect of raising the front of your tow vehicle and altering the angle of your headlights. Low beam will now look like high beam to oncoming drivers and may blind them.
A good set of properly adjusted load levellers will help limit this tow vehicle sag and make life more comfortable and safer for approaching vehicles at night.
One of the easiest ways to help is by communication, and talking with the truck drivers via a UHF radio, and them talking back to you. If you have a caravan it is a very good idea to invest in a good quality UHF radio for the tow vehicle or RV.
You will also find it a great investment in an emergency when you are out of mobile phone range.
The accepted ‘Highway Channel’ used by most truck drivers is Channel 40.
Traditionally caravanners use Channel 18 to talk amongst themselves but will need to change to Channel 40 to talk with the truck drivers and hear what is happening up ahead or behind, and how you can help.
There is also some valuable information passed on via Channel 40 like road conditions, animals on the road, car accidents, wide loads ahead, road blocks to avoid up ahead, speed camera locations and other things of interest.
You will not make any friends by clogging up Channel 40 with a long conversation or swopping recipes and will often be asked, (not always politely) to change to another channel for a chat.
Keep it brief and to the point is the rule on Channel 40.
Always keep an eye on your rear vision mirrors and be aware of who is coming up behind you and immediately tune the UHF to Channel 40 so you can hear any truck drivers trying to talk to you.
Depending on which Channel you normally have the radio set on it is always a good idea to have your name or nickname and UHF Channel 40 and /or 18 in large print (200mm) on the back and front of your caravan or RV. That way a driver behind or oncoming will know you have a radio ‘turned on’ and which channel you are listening to, so they can call you up easily and identify they are talking to the right person/vehicle. They may simply want to tell you your push bike has come loose off the back of your van, you are leaking water, some other safety issue or that they are going to overtake.
A friend reported that trucks and other caravanners were trying to contact the driver of one pop top van rig to tell him his van top was unclipped and flapping in the wind.
This driver did not have his radio on and nearly had many hundreds of dollars avoidable damaged to his van. He had gone to the effort of spending a few hundred dollars having a radio installed but then didn’t even have it turned on.
Personally, I stay on Channel 40, however as the language used by some people on this highway channel can be a bit rough sometimes, some caravanners or family groups may prefer to stay on channel 18 which is quieter.
Choose which is the best Channel for you and advertise it on the front and rear of your van, keep it turned on and volume up so you can hear someone trying to contact you. After all that’s why you had it installed in the first place.
It can be quite entertaining at times with some comical characters on the air.
There are some fools out there that clog up the airways with silly noises, and just being a nuisance. Please ignore them as they enjoy knowing they are upsetting someone and you reacting will just encourage them to keep going.
Be polite, keep it short and acknowledge that you have heard and understand the message is the best advice.
Talk clearly and not too fast.
If you are going to make any sudden changes up ahead like braking or turn off the road, let the driver behind know so they can be ready to brake if needed. They may be preparing to overtake and you are turning right or pulling off the road.
Give plenty of warning and remember a semi-trailer takes a long distance to stop or you may find their bull bar in your caravan’s bed.
Stay Truck Friendly and follow up with a ‘thank you’ or ‘stay safe’ as you may meet them at the next stop down the road.