There have been calls for green reflective dots on sign posts to be utilised nationwide after a road-safety advocate promoted their meaning.
Ken Wilson and his wife, Jenny, are the founders of Truck Friendly, a road safety initiative which provides vital information for caravaners and how they can share the roads safely with trucks and other motorists.
Earlier this week, Truck Friendly shared a series of photos to Facebook, of green reflective dots on sign posts along the Bernard Highway in Bundaberg, Queensland..
“Need a place to pull over to let faster traffic pass?” it reads on Facebook.
“These green reflectors will help you find a safe place.”
The green dot initiative was started by road safety advocate and truck driver Rod Hannifey, who was trying to find a safe place to pull over because he was tired - but by the time he found a safe place to do so, he had already passed it, Mr Wilson explained to Yahoo News Australia.
“He came up with these dots which give you a little bit of a warning that these areas where you can pull over are coming up,” Mr Wilson explained.
Mr Wilson explained the three green reflectors indicate there is a safe place to pull over in 500 metres, two dots indicate a place 250 metres ahead and one just before the area.
“Now these areas aren’t maintained,” Mr Wilson explained.
“But they’re usually flat and fairly levelled, so it’s less likely to get bogged or anything like that on these sites.”
The sites can be used as a safe place to pull over if you’re towing a heavy vehicle and traffic is piling up behind, or if you need a break from driving.
Although the concept was designed for heavy transport - you don’t need to be a truck driver or towing a caravan to use the space indicated by the dots, any motorist can pull up in the safe zone.
However, Mr Wilson warns the spots are not suitable for overnight or extended stays
“Great initiative. Should be replicated nationwide,” someone commented on the Truck Friendly Facebook post.
“Sure beats jamming on the brakes at the last minute, hope it takes on,” someone else said in the comments.
Although there is a push for the dots to be used all over Australia, the green dots can only be found in Queensland and New South Wales, and Mr Wilson said they were previously blue.
A ‘recipe for disaster’
Mr Wilson is an avid caravaner, and he started Truck Friendly, which strives to eradicate the “us and them” mentality on the roads.
“Truck Friendly is a national caravan road safety program designed to help encourage road safety education, cooperation and a friendlier and supportive relationship between all road users including caravaners, RV drivers and the truck drivers on our highways and suburban roads,” the Truck Friendly website says.
Mr Wilson said when he and his wife were towing their caravan up to Port Douglas a few years back, he noticed other caravans on the road were holding up traffic or doing “silly things” like slamming on the breaks or speeding up in overtaking lanes.
The Truck Friendly program was launched with stickers to put on the back of caravans and RVs which you can get after reading the driving guides on the Truck Friendly website and installing a UHF radio in your vehicle.
Once you agree to help other road users as described in the Truck Friendly website, you can claim your free sticker.
“By having that stick on the back [of your caravan or RV] you know the driver in front knows what to do and how to interact with trucks, you know they want to help you and has a UHF radio,” Mr Wilson explains.
Mr Wilson is still working full time in Bundaberg, but is passionate about promoting road safety and harmony between everyone on the road.
He has funnelled his own money into the initiative and hopes to secure funding as he plans on educating other caravaners on the road.
“The problem is, there is no reliable caravan education - anyone can go buy a caravan, hook it up and drive off,” Mr Wilson said.
“If that was a truck - you would have to have a special licence and do special training, but the caravan can be the same size as the truck and anybody can do it.”
Mr Wilson said this mean inexperienced drivers are towing often unreliable and unstable trailers and he says it’s a “recipe for disaster”.
He added in Brisbane there was previously a voluntary weigh-in, where people could bring in their caravans and Mr Wilson said 58 per cent of those were overweight.
“By being overweight they’re not roadworthy and should not be on the roads,” Mr Wilson said.
However the problem is, the weigh-in was voluntary - so Mr Wilson said it is estimated 70 per cent of caravans on the road would be overweight and not roadworthy.
In the future, Mr Wilson wants to take the Truck Safety program on the road and to caravaners, by providing free road-safety workshops in caravan parks throughout Australia.
The only problem is, Truck Friendly does not have any funding and currently has an application in to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.
Mr Wilson said education is desperately needed - school holidays are just around the corner, border restrictions will soon be lifted and caravaners who have been cooped up for so long will soon hit the road.
“They’re going to want to get on the road and with about 60 to 70 per cent of them being un-roadworthy, we have a major problem,” Mr Wilson said.
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