As a child, Casuarina ‘CJ’ Smith watched her father turn to driving trucks in the quiet farming season.
Seeing her dad on the road inspired the 33-year-old Adelaide local to make a career as a truck driver herself.
After seven years as a full-time ‘truckie’, and with an online following of tens of thousands who watch her daily travels, CJ has joined the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s (NHVR) We All Need Space road safety campaign.
“As a kid, my dad let me sit in the trucks and go on the occasional trip with him, which is really where my love for trucking flourished,” she said.
“Watching my dad’s pride when he was driving, as well as what a great career it was to support our family, really influenced me to follow his footsteps.
“Of his four daughters, two of us now work in the transport industry.
“And being out on the road myself, I’m passionate about educating other motorists on how to drive responsibly around trucks.”
CJ said the We All Need Space campaign was important to spread a clear message to all road users.
“I want everyone to feel safe around trucks and understand them better, and one of the easiest things to remember is to give us space,” she said.
“If people can heed this simple advice, we’ll see less dangerous behaviour out on the roads.”
By tapping into her online following, CJ is a voice for her fellow truckies who spend every day on the road.
Like most truck drivers, CJ’s had her fair share of close calls, with other drivers sometimes underestimating how to drive safely around her 100-tonne truck.
NHVR Executive Director Michelle Tayler says drivers like CJ who are in control of enormous heavy vehicles need other drivers to take caution.
“When you treat a truck like just another car on the road, you’re putting yourself and other motorists in serious danger,” she said.
“When a truck like CJ’s weighs 50 times more than an average car, it proves motorists need to give serious consideration to how they drive around heavy vehicles.
“For example, maintaining a safe following distance behind a truck means leaving at least two seconds behind the truck, and more if the weather’s bad or it’s dark.
Ms Tayler said the statistics around crashes involving a heavy vehicle were a worrying indication of the need for greater education for local drivers.
“This year in South Australia there have been six fatal crashes involving heavy vehicles,” she said.
“Sadly, those crashes have resulted in seven fatalities, which is tragic for those families.”
There are currently more than 49,000 registered heavy vehicles in SA, meaning many drivers in the state would come across a heavy vehicle on their daily journey.
As part of the We All Need Space campaign, CJ is sharing videos on her social media channels covering topics like how to safely overtake trucks and staying out of truck blind spots.
The campaign has appeared nationally with talent from Victoria, Western Australia and South-west Queensland, helping the NHVR to spread an important safety message that has already reached over three million people online.
“I want my dad, and all truck drivers, to get home safely every time they go to work,” CJ said.
“If sharing these important tips helps to educate drivers, then that’s a positive step to help make our roads safer for everyone.”
For more information on We All Need Space, visit http://weallneedspace.com.au/