No matter where one chooses to operate a truck, the life of truckers is far from easy. These individuals transport goods and raw materials from the point of manufacture to the point of use. In fact, if consumers take a good look around their home, it is difficult to find anything that was not transported on a truck at one point from the manufacturer, farmer or supplier to the consumer. Truckers on the Croatian Coast Highway face even greater challenges than those on the roads in other sections of the world.
The Adriatic Highway, known in Croatia as Jadranska magistrala is part of the European Route E65 and stretches along the Adriatic Sea’s eastern coast. The road primarily passes through Croatia, but there are smaller sections located in Bosnia, Montenegro, and Herzegovina. For the most part, this highway is a two-lane road for its entire length, with a short 4-lane section located between Sveti Juraj near Kaštela and Split. While plans are in the works to expand the 4-lane section, today’s truckers are still moving along this long and winding, primarily 2-lane highway.
In the future, the Adriatic Ionian motorway is to be completed. This modern multi-lane highway will replace the Adriatic Highway, providing a high-performance route along the coast. Until that time, truckers are stuck with this winding highway filled with at grade intersections and dangerous high speed loving Croatian drivers who make the trip even more dangerous.
Officially, the Croatian section of the Adriatic Highway is called D8 state road or Državna cesta D8. The highway connects the Slovenian border crossing at Rijeka with the Montenegro Border at Karasovići. Cities located between the two border crossings in Croatia include Senj, Zadar, Šibenik, Split, Opuzen and Dubrovnik. The Croatian portion of the Adriatic Highway is just less than 400 miles (643 kilometers). For truckers, these 400 miles of highway are considered some of the most dangerous in the world.
In the past 10 to 15 years, multilane highways have been built further inland to help reduce the traffic on D8. Additional motorways continue to be built paralleling the road, including A7, A6 and A1. However the D8 is a more familiar route to many drivers and remains more popular, even though it is considered more dangerous with the numerous blind curves along the way. In addition, as a state road, D8 remains popular as an alternative to tolled highways, even though travel on the road will take considerably more time. During the summer months, traffic is even more intense due to the substantial number of vehicles attributed to tourism along the coast.
Some of the heaviest traffic is found between Rijeka and Senj. The alternative routes along A1 or A6 are considerably longer than this section of the D8. Truckers may not be aware that these alternative routes can normally be driven in a shorter amount of time, due in part to the fact that until 2009, the A6 had some slow semi-highway sections along the route. However, with the completion of this section of highway, travel along the alternative route normally can be completed in significantly less time. Completion of the A7 is expected to reduce some of the traffic and congestion of this section of the coast highway. Truckers can avoid many of the dangers of the congested coast highway by choosing the alternative routes that provide safer and faster travel to their destination.
Truckers will find the Croatian roads in general are dangerous due to their narrow and twisty nature. The highways often lack markings or warning signs making them more dangerous. Cut into the sides of hills and mountains, there is little room for lay-bys or even side rails. During the tourist season, there are many travelers paying more attention to the stunning scenery on the jagged coast than to the road. This can make driving these roads a scary proposition, especially when your vehicle is a large truck.
Once truckers pass from Croatia into Montenegro the Adriatic coast highway is their only option for travel. All traffic crossing the border into this country from the other Croatian roads is now forced back onto this narrow two lane highway. Although not known to be as dangerous as portions of the D8 in Croatia, the congestion can cause this trip to be dangerous for the truckers.
Truckers in Croatia should know that the state is serious about limiting alcohol consumption of motor vehicle operators. A controversial law reduced the limit to 0.0% until 2004, when the legal limit was raised to 0.05%. However, with the road conditions in the country, truckers will want to be sure they have all their mental facilities available before sitting behind the wheel.
The government has set the speed limits to follow these general rules:
Inhabited Areas – 50 km/h Outside Inhabited Areas – 90 km/h Marked Expressways – 110 km/h Marked Motorways – 130 km/h
However, drivers are expected to follow any specially posted speed limits in local areas.
Life on the road as truckers has many difficulties. Drivers are often away from families for days at a time. They spend hours behind the wheel and may sleep in the vehicle only to wake up and head off again. Rates of pay often vary greatly by location where the individual is driving as well as what is being transported. While many are privileged to drive their rigs on modern super highways where laws are strictly enforced, others must drive on some of the most dangerous highways in the world. Truckers who use the Croatian coast highway are among the latter group. Many of these truckers spend practically every day of the week avoiding the dangers found on the road. Some will give their lives in an attempt to deliver goods from the manufacturer or farmer to the consumer. Those who are not truckers owe these professionals a debt of gratitude. Without their work, the food you eat, clothes you wear and homes in which you live would not exist. The work of truckers is necessary for life as it is known today.