Reversing, overtaking and managing risks

NSW rules and advice for heavy vehicle drivers on reversing, overtaking and changing lanes, and dealing with wet conditions and vehicle fires.

On this page


Avoid unnecessary reversing but if you do need to reverse, you must:

  • activate hazard warning lights before starting to reverse
  • plan ahead to use the shortest possible reversing distance
  • use a helper whenever possible that you can see and who has a clear view of where your vehicle is going
  • get out and have a look if you are not sure what is behind you
  • always reverse your vehicle into position in a driveway or loading dock.

Although you may need to hold up traffic while you reverse, it is much safer to drive forward into traffic as you leave.


When overtaking, heavy vehicle drivers should take extra care to check their blind spots. It is very important to watch for small vehicles, such as motorcycles. Before pulling out, check your mirrors and glance down to check for vehicles below your cabin. Drivers should also make sure there is enough space to overtake safely.

Air movement caused by a large vehicle travelling fast can force a small vehicle off the road, or draw it into the side of a larger vehicle.

Being overtaken

If it is safe, move into the left lane to allow faster moving traffic to overtake.

It is illegal and dangerous to direct following vehicles to overtake, using your hand or the indicator. You may be encouraging an inexperienced driver to attempt an unsafe move.

Changing lanes

It is very important to check that the road is clear when you want to change lanes, or when lanes merge. You also need to check before leaving the kerb and before turning.

You must look in the appropriate mirrors and do blind spot head checks before making any of these moves. In a heavy vehicle it is also essential to check down the side door in the cabin.

Driving in wet conditions

Wet roads reduce tyre grip and can result in loss of control.

You should drive at a speed that allows you to brake gradually and stop within the distance you can see. The safe speed for your vehicle and its load may be much lower than the posted speed limit.

To avoid skidding, slow down when approaching corners and select an appropriate gear to maintain vehicle control without the need for braking.

Vehicle fires

To minimise the risk of fire:

  • make regular checks of the vehicle during your trip
  • follow recommended vehicle operating rules.
  • check the instruments and mirrors as part of your regular scanning routine.

If there is a fire in your vehicle:

  • Stop it well away from anything else which may burn.
  • Notify emergency services – dial 000.
  • Use the correct fire extinguisher.
  • If the trailer is on fire, and it is safe to do so, uncouple the prime mover and move it away.
  • If the engine is on fire, try not to open the bonnet any more than necessary. Spray the fire extinguisher through louvres, or from the underside of your vehicle.
  • Where the load is on fire in a van or box trailer, open the doors slowly and only far enough to let you use the extinguisher properly.
Top of page