QUICK GUIDE TO AUSTRALIAN 4WD CONVOY PROCEDURES
Travelling in a convoy is safer than driving alone but only if all parties know the driving procedures involved. If one person in the convoy is unaware of safe convoy driving procedures, it can make the whole situation unsafe. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and a convoy operates in much the same way.
AUSTRALIA-WIDE CONVOY DRIVING PROCEDURES
Each 4WD club will have their own convoy driving procedures but the following are generally accepted nationwide in some variation or another.
EACH DRIVER MUST HAVE CONTACT WITH THE DRIVER AHEAD AT ALL TIMES
This contact does not have to be visual, it could be radio contact but it is up to each driver to ensure the convoy is never separated. In poor visibility conditions, or in dusty conditions where radio contact might be difficult, it is also up to each driver to relay signals down the line to ensure each and every car has received messages.
WAIT FOR THE TURNING SIGNAL OF THE DRIVER BEHIND
Before you make a turn, each driver must wait until his or her turning signal has been acknowledged by the driver behind. This acknowledgement will usually come in the form of turning on their own relevant turning signal. Only when you receive this acknowledgement, can the driver make the turn.
EACH CAR MUST HAVE ITS HEADLIGHTS ON
This improves visibility.
As a general rule of thumb, a safe distance between vehicles in a convoy is around 500m on the motorway, 800-1000 on smaller roads and 50-100m on dirt tracks.
OBSTACLES ARE TACKLED TOGETHER
Each vehicle tackles the obstacle individually and only when it receives confirmation from the vehicle in front that it is safe to do so.
WAIT AT THE TOP OR BOTTOM OF AN INCLINE
When tacking an incline or decline, the vehicle behind will wait at the top or bottom of the incline until the vehicle in front has fully cleared it.
NO TWO VEHICLES WILL ENTER THE WATER AT THE SAME TIME
When crossing rivers, cross one at a time with the car behind only entering the water once the car in front has completed the crossing.
EACH VEHICLE MUST ANNOUNCE ITS INTENTIONS BEFORE STOPPING
Stopping suddenly could result in a collision if there is heavy dust or a blind turn.
THE LEAD VEHICLE DECIDES HOW TO TACKLE GATES
If the convoy comes upon a gate, the trip leader will decide if the whole convoy will pass the gate in one sweep, or if each car will open and close the gate behind it.
IF COMMUNICATION FAILS, FLASH YOUR LIGHTS
If the communication device malfunctions, get the attention of the car in front by flashing your headlights. It is the responsibility of the car in front to notify the trip leader and arrange for the convoy to come to a stop.
TRIP LEADER AND TAIL-END CHARLIE SHOULD HOLD THEIR POSITIONS FOR THE DURATION OF THE JOURNEY
No overtaking the trip leader or falling behind the tail-end Charlie.
By complying with these procedures, 4WD enthusiasts should be able to drive effectively in convoy at any 4WD club across Australia.
Do you have anything to add to this list of 4WD convoy driving procedures? Leave it in the comments section below.