Rigabold the pernicketness followed the road train all the way into Wilmington, the trip was slower than he could have done if he’d sped his way ahead of the truck, there was no doubt about that. But overall the time difference between speeding ahead into the darkness and sitting back was a massive one minute and forty seven seconds, he knew because his GPS told him so.
“Yeah but imagine what I could have done with that minute and forty seven seconds!” Rigabold said mocking the GPS screen that he knew was simply providing information not telling him off.
Only seconds after passing the big green directional sign on the edge of what Rigabold guessed was the Wilmington CDB the large truck pulled to the left as the road opened up. It didn’t appear to be a separate lane but there was plenty of room.
“Unless your stopping in town buddy you may as well cruise past me now. The next two turns for me are pretty slow in this thing. And I’m pulling into the Assembly area. No point holding you up any more.” came the voice across Rigabold’s CB.
Rigabold wasn’t sure what the Assembly area was and he was in no rush but he realised the truckie was moving over to make it easier and as a kind gesture to a fellow motorist, so refusing that offer would have been impolite.
“No worries buddy, thanks for the tow up the Pass!” Rigbold replied hoping he used sarcasm correctly, he then sped up a few kilometres to over take the truck.
“You’re welcome mate, safe travels. Watch out for roos, and keep it on its wheels!” came the response.
“You too buddy.” Rigabold came back with and as he passed the pub, which seemed to be the only place in town that was open at 10PM, he had finished his overtaking manoeuvre and the large truck behind him was pulling back onto the main part of the road.
Rigbold continued to head straight, following the line on his GPS screen, out of town and in a south easterly direction. Several kilometres out of town a big green directional sign told him a left turn would take him to Sydney via Broken Hill. The GPS was also pointing him in that direction so he flicked on his indicator and eased off the accelerator, at the same time in his rear vision mirror he noticed the truck behind him indicating to take the same turn.
Not far from the intersection Rigabold could see lights in a paddock, they weren’t bright lights and there didn’t appear to be many, little more than a glow. As he got closer he realised they were the lights of trucks, he wasn’t sure how many. Then about about kilometre from where he had turned onto the road he was on as he realised it was two trucks and multiple trailer lights he was seeing. He then passed a sign with the words, “ROAD TRAIN ASSEMBLY AREA” on it and an arrow pointing left.
Because of certain restrictions on roads, for weight, for safety and for traffic, trucks with more than two trailers were not permitted on all roads. When the driver of the truck he’d followed up the Horrock’s Pass had said he was stopping at the Assembly area he meant that he was stopping to either build his truck into a road train or he was carting trailers out of Port Augusta to build someone elses road train.
In the glow of the truck and trailer lights Rigabold counted two trucks and four trailers, with the one following that was three and six respectively. “Guess they are making two triples and sending one tractor back home empty.” Rigabold thought aloud.
Hearing his words and responding because it was what the GPS was programmed to do it confirmed Rigabold’s thoughts with statistics and data that showed how a company might save money by sending three double trailered rigs to an Assembly point, breaking that down to two triple trailered rigs and sending an empty prime mover back to a local base. Still relatively small in comparison to the six and eight trailer road trains in the mining areas of the outback but a road train none the less with thousands, even millions of dollars of freight on them.
The GPS kept spewing out data and it showed how less drivers and prime movers on the road meant more money a company was saving. There was also the savings to the fuel industry and the road maintenance. Sharing the road with larger trucks might have scared drivers not confident enough to be on the road in the first place but without trucks the country stopped, and without multi-combintion road trains with two trailers or more the current figure of more than 800,000 trucks on the road would easily be tripled.
“Thank you for that wealth of information!” Rigabold said sarcastically to the GPS, of course the system didn’t understand his sarcasm and thanked him for asking for the information but that was not a problem.
Alone and with the lights of no other motorists around him Rigabold drove on. There was only a few towns on the route he had chosen and he quickly realised one downer about choosing an inland route rather than the coastal route where more people were. Small towns shut down for the night. Very few of the small towns would have even roadhouses where he could get a decent feed of Chiko Rolls. Some of the towns he’d even be hard pressed to get them in the day time, but during the night the chances dropped to zero. He suddenly wondered if travelling via night really was the best option.
Looking at the GPS screen he decided whether the town of Peterborough was open at midnight or not he was at least going to stop there and think about his options. He wasn’t going to divert back to the coast, but he might change his driving hours and with Peterborough being the place he was going to have a fight with his GPS he figured stopping there to think was as good a spot as any.