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How Road Trains Work


How to Play Nice with a Road Train
If you're approaching a road train, you need to not only stay in your own lane, but you need to stay as far left in your lane as possible. Chances are that truck train is using its entire lane -- and some of yours, too.
If you're approaching a road train, you need to not only stay in your own lane, but you need to stay as far left in your lane as possible. Chances are that truck train is using its entire lane -- and some of yours, too.
(Creative Commons/Flickr/Teddy Fotiou)

We mentioned that one of the dangers for road trains is idiot car drivers. Think of it: These are tired (or, um, wired) drivers piloting more than 400,000 pounds (181,437 kilograms) of freaked-out cows along at an average of 56 mph miles per hour (90.1 kilometers per hour) through countryside so desolate a mechanical issue has to be fixed by a guy flown in to help. That truck will not -- nay, likely cannot -- stop in time for the one car he's seen in 21 hours of driving ... one which has decided to cut him off. That car will be a pancake, like something out of a cartoon.

If you're headed to the Outback for a road trip (for some insane reason), here are a few driving tips to help you not end up looking like a cartoon pancake:

  • Don't ever cut off a road train. Simple physics tells you it will take for-freaking-ever for the brakes to stop so much mass.
  • Don't pass as they turn. If the road train ahead of you has its blinker on, don't try to scoot around in the empty lane. These rigs need so much space to maneuver a turn that they'll use everybody's lane. Everybody's.
  • Don't get all swervy. Don't forget, this is Australia, where the driving is backwards to Americans. So if you're approaching a road train, you need to not only stay in your own lane, you need to stay as far left in your lane as possible. Chances are that road train is using its entire lane -- and some of yours, too.
  • Don't pass unless you can see 2 miles (3 kilometers). Passing a road train 170 feet (51.8 meters) long, even one averaging less than 60 miles per hour (96.6 kilometers per hour), is going to take you a long, long, long time. Before tucking into the opposite lane, make sure you can see at least 2 miles (3 kilometers) ahead before mashing the gas like your life depends on it.
  • Don't slow down. If you're tooling along the roads of the Outback and a road train appears in your rearview mirror, don't slow down so you can get a good look. The truck can't slow down as quickly as you, and there you have it. You're a pancake.
  • As a matter of fact, just stop. If a road train is going to overtake you, rather than dealing with the turbulence, the dust it's going to kick up, and the terror of not slowing down like you're starring in "Drive 3: Roadtrains!," just pull over. Way over. If you choose to let the road train blow past you, pull way off the road and wait for the dust to settle.

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