Safer, greener, more efficient trucks

A change in government legislation and a decade of intense work by the truck industry and regulators has resulted in safer, greener and more efficient trucks being granted approval to enter service on Australian roads with Performance Based Standards (PBS) finally becoming a reality for the transport industry.

PBS enables efficiency gains to be made under the provision that trucks meet a total of 16 separate criteria related to speed, braking and safety standards.

Until now all trucks have had to meet Prescribed Standards with strict weight and length restrictions, however PBS allows greater flexibility and efficiency gains without compromising safety or the convenience of other road users.

According to John Bushell, the president of the Truck Industry Council (TIC), the peak industry body representing truck and component manufacturers, the concept of performance based standard vehicles has been hotly debated for the past 10 years and at times it appeared that such vehicles would never operate nationally.

“During the past 18 months, however, there have been significant advances and we now have agreement for PBS with general access operating on Australian roads,” John Bushell said.

“TIC has long been a strong supporter of PBS to deliver increased productivity while meeting our objectives of providing safer, greener trucks that are essential if transport operators are going to service the growing road freight task.”

The NSW Roads and Traffic Authority approved the first PBS-rated vehicle, a 19.5 metre long rigid truck with dog trailer weighing 50 tonnes, to operate on NSW roads and more importantly with general access in December 2007. This follows earlier approvals in South Australia and Victoria.

A normal single semi trailer rig would normally operate within a prescribed weight limit of 42.5 tonnes with a total length of 19.5 metres.

TIC’s Terry Pennington, who is a member of the PBS policy committee, noted that the NSW RTA had to amend legislation to accommodate PBS vehicles and now that this has been achieved the path for subsequent PBS approvals has been simplified.

TIC president has acknowledged the good work by government and industry in achieving this important milestone.

“PBS is an essential component of road transport regulations that will help provide Australia with the optimum truck fleet to meet the growing road freight task,” said John Bushell.

PBS assesses each truck on performance criteria including the ability to maintain a safe speed downhill, to climb hills at a minimum speed of 70km/h, clear an intersection in a specified time, complete 90 degree turns within a designated swept path and to operate safely and efficiently within the normal road network.

As a part of PBS certain levels of access will be granted to individual trucks depending on their size and ability to negotiate various levels of the network.

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