Truck Rules Apply!
Words by Joseph Van Woerkom
In this issue I thought we’d have a look at the latest Australian Road Rules (ARR 02/2012) and how they affect RVers. The first thing to note is that this document’s definition of a ‘vehicle’ also includes a ‘combination’ (Rule 15) and therefore the term GVM also includes GCM. Weird, I know.
Then there’s the definition of a ‘heavy vehicle’. Rule 21 states that any vehicle/combination over 5 tonnes is a ‘heavy vehicle’ but Rule 200 reduces this to 4.5 tonnes. This means that your rig may or may not be a ‘heavy vehicle’ depending upon which rule is in force. Ridiculous!
The AAR also define a ‘truck’ to be a motor vehicle with a GVM over 4.5 tonnes, except a bus, tram or tractor. Because ‘vehicle’ includes ‘combination’ your rig is considered a ‘truck’ if the GVM/GCM is over 4.5 tonnes.
Finally, Rules 28, 127 and 200 define any vehicle (including a combination) which is over 7.5m as a ‘long vehicle’.
So how does all this affect RVers?
First, the speed at which you are permitted to travel may be lower than the posted speed limit. This is because the ARR supersede state and territory road rules (unless explicitly overruled in the state/territory road rules) and ARR Rule 15 restricts ‘heavy’ vehicles to 100km/h. Not that this should be a problem because I reckon that these heavy rigs should be travelling no more than 90-95km/h anyway.
Next, if your rig is classified as a ‘truck’ because it is over 4.5 tonne GVM/GCM, you must obey ‘NO TRUCKS’ signs. This means that you are not permitted to proceed past a ‘NO TRUCKS’ sign unless your GVM/GCM and/or length is less than that displayed on the sign. If the sign does not display a mass or length limit, no ‘truck’ is permitted to drive past the sign. However, you may pass these signs if your destination requires you to travel on that piece of road.
Then there’s the ‘TRUCK & BUS LANE’ signs. By now it won’t surprise you to learn that if your GVM/GCM is over 4.5 tonne then you must use the truck and bus lane until a sign indicates that the lane has ended. You must also obey ‘TRUCKS MUST ENTER’ and ‘TRUCKS & BUSES MUST USE LOW GEAR’ signs.
But perhaps the most surprising of all are the parking restrictions. Firstly, a heavy or long vehicle must not stop on a length of road that is not in a built-up area, except on the shoulder of the road. This is fair enough, but did you know that heavy or long vehicles are not permitted to park in a built-up area for more than one hour (unless the driver is engaged in dropping off, or picking up, goods)? What do you do when you need to do some shopping?