Retirees and RVs versus Truckers – Who’s to Blame?

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There has recently been another “explosion” of resentment between two road user groups in Australia – RV owners and Truckers.

Although part of a long-simmering dispute, things are coming to a head with some parties asking for laws to be passed to resolve the conflict.

What’s the issue?

At its heart, this is all about “speed” on the road.

Here is the trucker’s version:

  • RV drivers are on the road having an enjoyable and leisurely time – assuming everybody else is in the same boat. So, they “tootle along” at speeds way below the legal limit, as they take in the scenery.
  • Of course, many other road users, notably truckers, need to use the roads for their work. Truckers are on tight schedules and need to keep their speeds up to the legal maximum to meet them.
  • They are often stopped from doing so by RVs being driven far too slowly and who then also won’t pull over to allow truckers and other road users to pass. Some cite regular examples of RVs being driver in the middle of the road at say 70kph when the legal limit is 120kph.
  • Many RV drivers are too old and “past it” in the sense of driving these vehicles sensibly. Some truckers refer to RV drivers collectively as “Greys”.
  • This leads to situations that are dangerous – as truckers are being forced to try and overtake in less than ideal situations.

By contrast, RV owners say:

    • Truckers regularly either break the law or transgress safe driving guidelines by driving too fast and too recklessly. That’s because they consider themselves to be above the law and virtual cowboys.
    • Tailgating and other intimidatory or even illegal practices are regularly demonstrated.
    • Truckers often have no experience of driving or towing an RV – they therefore don’t know what they’re talking about in terms of safe driving speeds, as the road limit is one thing but the recommended maximum for a RV in a given situation may be lower than it.
    • The haulage industry is in crisis as deadlines (whether set by employers, clients or individual driver promises) are too ambitious and too demanding, meaning that individual truckers can only meet them by speeding and driving recklessly – something that’s nothing to do with RV drivers.

The result of the above acrimony is sometimes serious “road rage” incidents.

Where age comes in

Strictly speaking, this isn’t an age-related issue – despite what some truckers say.

People of any legal driving age can and do drive RVs, though it probably must be accepted that many people of retirement age do invest in an RV and understandably wish to use them regularly.

So, a high percentage of RV drivers ARE retired folk.

What’s the answer?

There is undoubtedly much anger on both sides. Hot heads in the two camps are calling for restrictive laws to be passed to get the “others” under control.

There’s no intention here of taking sides. But the following “home truths” might be worth keeping in mind:

 General   

  • The roads are not owned by any one group, so apart from perhaps emergency services vehicles who have priority, everyone has an equal right to use them.
  • The law can be a blunt instrument for solving squabbles. Everyone often ends up more restricted and wishing they hadn’t bothered.
  • Creating avoidable “crises” when on the road, to try and make a point to the other driver, is insane and potentially lethal.

Truckers

    • Anyone who has ever worked in trucking knows that schedules are often virtually impossible to achieve unless corners are cut. Whoever’s fault this is, it must stop because it forces drivers to sometimes take unacceptable risks and to lose patience when even minor delays are encountered.
    • Remember that some retired RV drivers might also have once been your colleagues in the trucking industry!
    • There are times when the handling characteristics of an RV mean that it can’t be easily or comfortably driven at the maximum speed limit (e.g. high winds);
    • Even if an RV is being driven very (perhaps “too”) conservatively by a retired person due to a lack of confidence, remember that you’re going to reach that age yourself one day and might be equally inclined to take it easy when driving.
    • Keep in mind that some car drivers see you just as you see that RV.
    • You don’t own the road just because you’re working – and not all RV drivers can choose exactly when they travel on the roads any more than you can.

RV Drivers

      • If you’re secretly worried about your eyesight or fitness to drive, don’t just “slow down” to compensate. Consult a doctor instead.
      • Don’t engage in leisurely “sightseeing” speeds on busy roads. Pull over and wait for the traffic volumes to reduce.
      • Try to avoid peak time travel in known congestion spots if you can.
      • Avoid engaging in pointless overtaking races with other RV users. If you haven’t got the power to fully overtake or the space to drop back, you’ll get stuck and block the road behind you.
      • Typically, drive at or near the speed limits or the maximum recommended speeds for your RV. There may, of course, be exceptions but if you find you’re regularly uneasy about driving at the legal limit, then be honest with yourself and either consult a doctor or think carefully about whether you should still be driving an RV.

Let’s all try and use some of the famous Aussie “common sense” to sort this out without resorting to the courts.