Driving and reviewing cars is something we do best at CarAdvice. We pretty much know them inside-out, but when it comes to trucks, we’re not so knowledgeable.
Every motorist shares the road with trucks, so we decided to take a look inside the world of trucks and their drivers, by riding shotgun in an International ProStar B-double truck with driver René Bueman.
Read the highlights below, but listen to the full drive in the audio link.
CarAdvice: What is the common misconception car drivers have?
René Bueman: In a car, the speedo will say 100km/h, and a truck would go past, and it’s often the case that cars are not calibrated 100 per cent correctly. They often sit below 100km/h, but trucks are calibrated pretty perfectly. The truck driver is doing 100km/h, but you’re probably doing 97.
How do you react when a car merges into your lane?
When that happens, your heart often jumps. I back off before they come in front of me, because I anticipate it. Coming up this hill, that car driver would not be thinking I’m going slowly, but once I get over the hill, I’m able to accelerate. They just think I’m going slowly, so they’ll pull in. There’s a lack of understanding there. It’s not their fault, they just don’t know.
You can see a truck driver who’s working would want to stay at 100km/h as long as they can, because if you come off 100, your trip times are going to suffer. If you need to do four trips a day, and you’ve only managed three, that’s an income difference.
What is the local manufacturing situation?
It’s been a changing environment. Caterpillar made its first 500 trucks here, and International has made trucks here. Volvo assembles its trucks here, and Scania assembles them to some degree, but they’re largely imported. We don’t really have our own manufacturing at all.
What do you think of the banning of trucks in the right lane on some parts of freeways?
It’s the wrong way to go about it. That means the truck drivers are trying to do 100km/h in the middle or left lane, so they’re weaving in and out of the traffic. Just make it 90km/h for trucks. It makes the overall trip time difference negligible – we have done tests on that – and it just calms down everything. The driver knows they’re at 90, and they stay in the left lane.
Where do you see the future of trucking?
Autonomy is less likely to work in Australia because of our distances and our weight. The likes of a Tesla truck might work in the US – it’s going to be a long haul for an electric vehicle here.
With platooning (a group of trucks with the latest driving technology travelling in close convoy), again, it’s less likely to work here than in the US, although I do see it happening. It’ll be a longer time frame than other countries. We don’t have trucks with 40,000 vehicles where platooning would be normal between destinations.
For this and many more fascinating insights into the life of a trucker on the road, listen to the full podcast below.
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