You might think that once we get a load like this on the open road things become a lot easier for us, well in part you are right but that doesn’t mean it’s ever plain sailing just because the road opens up.
A load more than twenty metres long and weighing over 150 tonnes takes up a lot of road and as such will always hold up traffic. We try our best to let traffic pass us, although other trucks passing can get hairy at times, and we do try our best not to hold traffic up but unfortunately it happens and is just another thing that adds to the stress of this job.
Another issue with highways and freeways is that they are less maintained than suburban and feeder roads. It’s not that all our highways and regional roads are made and maintained badly, (badly is an understatement!!) but these roads which usually have faster speed limits attributed to them and used by less vehicles do get less maintenance. It’s common sense and in some ways a smart way to spend money but unfortunately it’s not good for all.
For us it means the possibility of pot holes, road dips and just generally roads that are rougher and could potentially cause issues for our load. However the worst part about that is that many of these issues even we don’t see until we are hitting them. There are times where the pilots report pot holes and the like before we get to them but the further out of town we get the more likely it is even they don’t see something the four metre wide load behind them hits.
We also don’t need the number of police and roads corporation vehicles escorting us when it comes to highway travelling as we do when we are negotiating the suburbs. Obviously there is less side roads to block off when it comes to highway travel but as well as that it’s usually deemed that we can escort ourselves. That in itself is a relief to the bean counters because police and roads corp escorts don’t come cheap, even when the client is paying. However don’t for a second think that because the roads corp don’t deem an escort needed that they don’t keep a close eye on us, the bastards have spies everywhere…and if those bastards are reading this, I mean bastards in the nicest possible way!
With Corey’s tractor on the black strip we had the load pulling straight and headed west into what would in a few hours be a setting sun. Radio chatter was again kept to a minimum and strictly to our on closed channel because it was a typical week day afternoon on the open UHF repeater. Fuck wit after fuck wit abusing each other, comments about who had the biggest dick and who has none at all were par for the course but we still keep our second radios on the road channel in case it was needed.
It didn’t take long after hitting the bitumen for us to get a bit of a convoy happening, which also means that it didn’t take long for us to start getting irate drivers behind us. We were able to creep the load up closer to ninety kilometres per hour on the flat, which some trucking companies who have done extensive research will tell you is the ideal speed for both economy and driver fatigue, but was still not fast enough for those on the road who think the speed limit is a target they must achieve at all times.
Some of the more irate drivers would try and force a passing manoeuvre, some with radios would even make their annoyance at travelling ten kilometres under the speed limit known by abusing us over the airwaves, but that’s just another one of those things we deal with every day on the road.
Once we got the load over Horricks Bridge we had a good stretch of relatively flat and smooth road ahead of us because there was nearly ten kilometres of freshly resurfaced tarmac. The new surface had been down about four weeks which meant the loose stones they surface the road with had been pushed off or driven into the tarmac so we wouldn’t be flicking stones out from under the wheels.
But the most appealing part of the newly surface road was that the shoulders on either side were also redone and smooth. That meant we could move the rig over to the left hand shoulder, maintain our ninety kilometres per hour and let our convoy of traffic pass us using half the right hand lane and the right hand shoulder.
You might have heard stories about all the wonderful things that truck drivers see from up high in the cabins, especially the things that couples might do? Well they are all true and as we pulled the rigs over as far to the left as we could and let the convoy pass us once again we were not let down.
In all we managed to let nearly twenty cars and eight trucks pass us using the right hand shoulder. The truck drivers were mostly polite, or at very least accepting that we weren’t holding them up just for the sake of it and the conversations on the UHF radios as they passed reflected that. I saw a few middle fingers from car drivers and there was a couple of ‘breakers’ on the radio only breaking to make rude comments but on the whole we got out of the way when we could and things were still going smoothly.
We were about a kilometre from the end of the newly surfaced tarmac when we started making our move back into the middle lane. It wasn’t going to take us the full kilometre to get the rigs back where we wanted them but making sure we were we wanted to be before we ran out of shoulder, as I’m sure you can understand, is a wise move.
Of course like every other time we close off a path that some numpty thinks is theirs for the taking they have to go and prove just how fucking stupid they are. This time is was a stupid maggot in a Mazda MX5 who decided that when as we moved right, they would move left and use the shoulder we were on to undertake us. In his defence it did work but I don’t think the Highway Patrol officer that was sitting in the trees waiting for us to get out of his way so he could resume pointing his radar out the window was that happy. But still I got to see some pretty red and blue lights which I hadn’t seen for about ten hours.
From that point on the roads became even more rural, it was still a dual lane carriage way, which was the only reason we were permitted to drive into the evening, but we were nearly a hundred kilometres from the city and traffic was definitely lessening. We still had more than five hours of travelling ahead of us but things were only going to get better surely!
Previous Heavy Haulage story here.