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Sharing the road with heavy vehicles

To keep safe and reduce your risk of a crash if driving on the road with trucks, you need to be aware of the different types and sizes of trucks:
  • rigid truck
  • semi-trailer trucks (mainly used in urban areas because of their smaller size)
  • road trains these are longer vehicles which vary in size e.g. double road train, triple road train, quad road train
  • buses
  • grain transporters
  • livestock transporters
  • tanker trucks
  • cement trucks
  • oversize vehicles.

See factsheet for common types of heavy vehicle

Driving safely with heavy vehicles

Truck drivers have a certain limitations when it comes to accelerating and slowing down. Heavy vehicles need more room to make turns and their blind spots are much larger than cars. When driving around trucks, keep in mind the following tips:

1. Stay out of the heavy vehicle blind spots

The blind spot diagram, in yellow shade, shows the blind spots are located: 

  • immediately in front of the truck
  • beside the truck driver’s door
  • on the passenger side which runs the length of the truck and extends out three lanes
  • directly behind the truck.

Blind spot around a truck

*Picture from the Australian Trucking Association (Road Ahead) website

Remember: if you cannot see the truck driver’s mirror, the truck driver cannot see you.

2. Travel at a safe following distance

Do not follow a heavy vehicle too closely, as you want to see what is ahead (e.g. debris and other cars). Keep in mind the following when travelling behind a heavy vehicle:

  • Allow for time to stop safely. The table below shows comparisons of stopping distances for cars and trucks when travelling at the same speeds.
    Vehicle Speed Stopping distance (metres)
    Car Truck 
     60km/h 73 83
     70km/h 91 105
     80km/h 111 130
     90km/h 133 156
    100km/h 157 185
  • If driving in weather conditions such as the wind and rain always leave more than the recommended following distance.

3. Look out for turning heavy vehicles

Trucks need more space when turning.

 three images of turning trucks

Table and diagram from Government of South Australian drivers handbook website.

Heavy vehicles that have a DO NOT OVERTAKE TURNING VEHICLE sign are allowed to take up more than one lane to turn at corners, intersections and roundabouts. Be prepared to give extra room when a heavy vehicle uses an indicator.

The Your Keys to Driving in Queensland publication is the road rules hand book for all drivers. It contains essential information about the Queensland driver licensing system and road rules.

4. Overtaking safely around heavy vehicles

  • If travelling on the motorway/highway, try to use overtaking lanes whenever possible.
  • Only overtake when the road ahead is clear.
  • Be aware of strong wind conditions as you pass a heavy vehicle.
  • When it is safe to overtake, indicate, accelerate and overtake quickly, without exceeding the speed limit.
  • After overtaking, maintain your speed so the heavy vehicle does not need to brake.
  • Never attempt to overtake a heavy vehicle or other long heavy vehicle on a curve or hill as your visibility is reduced.

When towing a trailer or caravan and a heavy vehicle approaches to overtake your vehicle:

  • always maintain your speed and position until the truck starts to overtake
  • if required, gently ease off your accelerator until the truck has passed and then return to your safe travelling speed.

5. Driving around road trains

Road trains can be up to 53.5 metres long or 10 cars lengths long and can sway from side-to-side as you pass, especially the last trailer. You can share the roads with road trains more safely by following these simple rules:

  • Expect road trains to stay on the bitumen when you overtake.
  • When approaching an oncoming road train on narrow roads slow down, pull on to the shoulder of the road and stop (if necessary). This may avoid unnecessary windscreen damage as well.
  • When overtaking be aware of road side conditions e.g. soft shoulders, guide posts and wildlife.
Last updated
24 August 2017