It’s the rhythm of the highway
As he rolls on down
And city lights as they fade from sight
Drives the man behind the driving wheels
They are driving wheels alright, although out of the ninety two tyres that were rolling this huge load only sixteen of them, eight on each tractor, were actually driving this load, the rest were just rolling along for the ride.
The Jimmy Barnes song was in my mind and not on the radio, as it so often was when I was driving. Truth was we didn’t listen to the radio or music a lot on such a haul because too often radio calls were missed when there was other distractions in the cabin. The last thing any of us needed was to for someone to be calling the rig to a halt only to have the driver singing to his favourite song. Some people might think that without music such long journeys become boring but with so much to keep thinking about the brain doesn’t often get much time to slow down until the wheels stop turning.
Darkness crept up on us from behind as we headed westward, unlike the song suggested the city lights were long out of our mirrors and the only lights I could see were the flashing orange safety beacons and the headlights of our support crew.
I’m not sure if I told you this before but we had special compensations from the roads corporation to travel this load into the darkness on the first night. It wasn’t usual to get such compensations on rural roads because of the possible dangers that surround such a large load. In suburbia where there were street lights and our speeds were a lot lower the night driving was preferred to keep us away from traffic, but where there was no street lights and faster speeds there was also other drivers not always considerate enough to leave such a load room to move.
If not for the relatively well maintained state of the roads we were on and the fact that they were dual carriage way with regular over taking space we’d not have got our permits for evening travel. However the truth was the roads corp wanted us as far out of the city and it’s surrounds as they could get us in the shortest possible time and the only rule they wouldn’t let us change was our log book hours. So for a nice fee our evening was spent driving.
One of the main reasons for keeping a load this big restricted to daylight hours on roads where there as less traffic and higher speeds was proven as we went around the Robinville bypass. The bypass is a really good section of road that bypasses the town of Robinville (obviously!), it’s main reason for existence is to keep trucks from entering the township late at night. It’s a dual carriage way road with wide shoulders on both sides for the most part.
Because of the condition of the road and its width we moved over onto the left hand shoulder as much as we could and allowed traffic to pass, like we did with any wide section of road. While the trucks moved over the two pilot vehicles stayed where they were with flood lights down on the road and a large arrow sign directing the traffic around us. The arrow on the front pilot was annoying to my eyes in the dark initially, eyes which were mostly only used to on coming head lights on the other side of the highway, but they did adjust quickly.
As usual the second we moved over and the rear pilot indicated that we were allowing vehicles to pass the stream of impatient idiots took off. Before I had the chance to count to ten a boy racer in his Holden Commodore, complete with wanker lights attached to the under body screamed past my cabin. Even over the roar of my own engine I could hear the boy racer’s engine screaming like he’d dropped a gear to pick up speed and get past but forgotten to grab the cog back as his speed went past the one hundred kilometre and hour limit. I prayed for the engine to explode but it didn’t happen.
Although traffic was relatively light there was still a fair bank of up cars behind us and within a few minutes what must have been twenty cars passed us. From the radio contact Millie had been having with the trucks behind us we knew there was five other trucks in the convoy. It’s not like we are bias towards trucks but it’s in our best interest to try and get as many of those trucks past while the going is easy, as we can.
Because Millie had been keeping the trucks (anyone with a radio) updated as to when we’d be moving over most of the trucks played it smart and dropped their speed back a few kilometres to allow themselves to build up the speed and overtake quickly as well as safely. But as you may have picked up, I said ‘most of them”, and just like there is often one fucktard in a group of car drivers there is often a fucktard in a group of truck drivers.
He was about eighth in line when we moved over and unlike the other truck drivers this guy didn’t think he needed time to build up speed so he just hung in the group of cars. Whether he did it to piss someone off or not I don’t know but as you can guess a truck can’t speed up with the same acceleration as a car, much less a B double like this guy was driving. When he pulled out in front of the stream of cars that wanted to go quicker than he could it didn’t seem to bother him and his comment over the radio suggested it as well.
“Looks like we’ve got a live one on the wire!” I heard Millie say over the radio.
“Get out of the fucking way we’re filming a TV show here.” came the second voice over the radio.
Previous Heavy Haulage story here.