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Don’t swerve for rabbits

Don’t swerve for rabbits

I’ve been working the afternoon shift on the road lately, most days that involves driving a semi trailer to Albury and back to Melbourne.

Around midnight on Tuesday I was approaching Craigieburn, southbound, and see the head and tail lights of a car spinning in the distance. Then nothing.  I slow down, wondering if I had imagined it because I couldn’t see where the car had gone.  It wasn’t until I was almost on top of it that I saw the black Nissan sideways across the Hume Highway.  If I hadn’t noticed the spin in the distance, I would not have slowed down and probably t-boned the Nissan at 100mh, killing the driver.

I stopped the truck in the lane, with all my lights flashing so no one else would run into it, and check on the driver.  He said he had swerved to miss a rabbit!  I told him he should have just run over it, which is exactly what the police said when they turned up.

Thankfully the guy was ok, but his car was a mess.

This was the fourth time in my truck driving career that I’ve seen a car spin on a perfectly good piece of road.  My advise to anyone (especially my son Josh, who is learning to drive) is to not swerve at highway speeds for animals on the road.  For small animals, like a rabbit or echidna, you could usually just run over them with little damage.  For larger animals, like kangaroos, brake heavily and brace for impact – you will still do less damage than yanking hard on the steering wheel at 100kmh.

Car spin and crash on Hume Hwy after swerving to miss a rabbit.

Spin and crash on the Hume Hwy

Give trucks room

Calder Hwy tanker rollover (pic Herald Sun)
Pic: Herald Sun
Calder Hwy tanker rollover (Pic The AGE)
Pic: The AGE

There was a horrible truck roll-over crash on the Calder Highway at Keilor yesterday.  A fuel tanker rolled, crushing a car and, sadly, fatally injuring the driver.  A substantial amount of fuel, reported as a mixture of petrol and diesel, leaked from the tanker and into a local creek.  This is one of the biggest crashes in Melbourne for some time, keeping the highway closed in both directions for around 19 hours.

Many people would jump to the conclusion that the truck driver was at fault, however media reports suggest the b-double tanker had to take evasive action to avoid a car merging onto the highway, and crossing lanes, too slowly.  The truck hit the embankment and crashed onto its side.  I’m not sure how accurate this account of the accident is, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it is true.  As a heavy vehicle driver myself, I too often see car drivers enter freeways unsafely.  (Another growing trend on the road is motorists cruising well below the speed-limit, presumably to avoid speed cameras, which can be just as dangerous as speeding.)  Multi-combination (b-double) fuel tanker drivers would be the most highly trained, and monitored, professional drivers on the road, especially those working for large organisations like Toll or Linfox, so I doubt this driver was any sort of cowboy.  It appears that a motorist, probably just on his daily commute to work, has made a horrible error in judging his speed and road position relative to the 60+ tonne b-double tanker.

Both the Melbourne Hearld-Sun and The AGE have reported extensively on this incident, click the links for more.

Please, take is easy on the road.  Merge on to highways and freeways at a speed relative to the other traffic, and give trucks plenty of room.