Have I mentioned before that I get to share the road, often very briefly, with some of the dumbest fuckwits in the world? As truck drivers we get labelled as cowboys, steering wheel attendants, road hogs, all sorts of wonderful names, and I wont deny there isn’t some truckies out there that fit that bill, but it’s not a truckies trait it’s a human trait. Why am I saying this now?
Remember we were sitting at the rest stop not far out of Corefeldy, engines idling, waiting for our curfew to be lifted at 7am? Well the time came and we were moving.
As I’m sure you can appreciate by now getting 155 tonnes moving is a huge effort and unlike performance car manufactures who measure 0-60 kilometres per hour in seconds we can at times measure it in minutes. Taking off from our rest stop wasn’t one of those long drawn out times the road was flat and smooth but we still took off slower than one person liked.
When we join the highway we have the right to stop traffic if we need to, we have the right to move the load as slow as needed to get it safely onto the road, all we need do it have our pilot vehicles placed correctly and we’ve followed the rules that apply to us. However that doesn’t mean we just pull out in front of traffic and make them stop for us, we do try our best to pick a break in the traffic. The break would have to be a large one not to effect any other road user, and it doesn’t happen often, but rest assured we do our best not to make life hard for other road users. However like I say there is always a fuckwit somewhere.
Phil was again in the front pilot, whilst Millie was in the driver’s seat of the rear pilot, Corey and I were in our usual seats. As the clock ticked over 7am Phil was sitting at the roads edge in front of me with his lights flashing and waiting for the go ahead to start rolling. At the same time Millie was about a hundred metres back sitting on the shoulder with his lights flashing warning approaching traffic that the load was on the move. Millie’s job was to keep his eyes on the rear view mirror and pick a time for us to pull the load onto the road. As I just mentioned we wouldn’t just pull into traffic so Millie had to judge which gap was best for us.
“Wide load, east of Corefeldy, good for go after the white pantech.” Millie’s voice came over the open channel. His voice not only letting us know he’d selected our gap in the traffic and that we were good to start moving after the white eight tonne truck with the box on the back went past but letting any one else within ear shot that there was a wide load joining the road and our rough location.
“Copy that!” called Phil.
“Copy.” Corey called from the tractor behind me.
“Copy.” I added. “Rolling now Corey.” I then said letting Corey know I was specifically starting to move and that he needed to do the same.
The 700 horsepower engine roared beneath me as the gearbox tried to reign in those revs and convert them to movement at the wheels. As I might have told you the Corefeldy rest stop was a good stop and where the rigs left the dirt and stone surface and rolled onto the bitumen was extremely smooth compared to many places we’d stop which meant we didn’t need to crawl onto the road.
We still weren’t flying but as the trailer wheels started to come onto the bitumen we were pushing about twenty five kilometres an hour and still increasing. By the time all the trailer wheels were on the bitumen we were pushing towards forty. By the time Corey was on the bitumen and we were straightening up our speed was hovering at about forty five.
Before we’d even gotten the rig straight Millie had pulled his ute onto the road and was straddling the the white line with his lights flashing, he was still a good distance behind but his job was to warn other road users what was ahead not read Corey’s number plate.
While Corey and I was still working our way up through the gearboxes to get us up to cruising speed Millie’s voice came over the open channel radio. I could tell from the tone that he was somewhat irate and anxious to get his message across.
“Stay left! Repeat, stay left! Coming up the outside Matt. Impatient boy racer in a blue ricer. Stay left!”
Millie was referring to a blue Subaru Imprezza with go fastie stripes and one of those loud exhaust pipes. The fuckwit was trying to pass us on the outside having decided that he didn’t have the time to wait until we were in a position to let him pass. It’s a common mistake some drivers make, they assume they know more about safety around our load than we do and that we wont let them pass, when in actual fact we try not to let people pass until it’s safe around us.
Because of the width of our load I couldn’t see what Millie was referring to, hence the call to ensure I stayed left, Corey on the other hand could see and hear all. While the call was a warning to all of us a big reason for it was to make sure I didn’t keep moving right while Corey kept his truck where it was and we suddenly found ourselves with a skewed trailer moving at fifty kilometres per hour.
Remember that trust thing I’ve spoken about? Well that’s a big part of it, I didn’t actually need to know about the boy racer in his toy ricer immediately, what I needed was for those behind the load to warn me of a potential problem and what needed to be done. All being well I’d see the cause of that problem when it ceased being a problem.
“Roger that Millie!” I called across the radio letting everyone know I’d heard and was taking heed of the warning.
Several seconds later I saw a little blue Subaru screaming along the right hand shoulder. Although the boy racer had over taken us illegally, performed a stupid and potentially dangerous move and proved just what sort of fuckwit he really was the move was completed without accident. As the boy racer kept moving I thought about how he’d no doubt spend the day telling all his mates how he pulled off such a great high speed manoeuvrer, no doubt exaggerating the speed, how close our vehicles really were and that his skill as a driver was what got him through it. Oh well it’s fun to live in dream land sometimes.
The car stayed wide until it was well past my cabin, rocks, pebbles and dust spewing forth from the rear right tyre as it sped along the dirt, the driver was probably pulling a hundred by the time he passed my truck, if not he’d definitely topped the ton but the time he passed Phil.
With our early morning excitement over we got down to our job of driving that big load down the road.
Previous Heavy Haulage story here.