Australia, Transport News

HVIA warns against proposed changes to trailer width

The HVIA has criticised the NHVR’s discussion paper on trailer width changes as it reiterates its position in the debate

The Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia (HVIA) has jumped on the heavy vehicle width debate, calling the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s (NHVR) discussion paper on the issue an “odd move that is likely to cause confusion within the industry”.

“Naturally, there is enormous interest within our membership regarding these reforms,” HVIA chief technical officer Adam Ritzinger says.

“Up until now, the big question has been when an announcement will be made by ministers; in that sense, the release of the NHVR’s implementation plan has confusingly put the cart before the horse.

“Yet despite that, a greater concern is that the NHVR has considered implementation of wider trailers, which needs further detailed impact assessment before any decision can be made.” 

The NHVR’s discussion paper released last week explores options for implementing the Safer Freight Vehicle (SFV) reforms, which are yet to be finalised at the Federal level.

The release of the paper means that the NHVR is seeking public comment on regulatory changes that have not yet been signed off by Ministers.

HVIA’s position on truck and trailer width has been clear since 2019,and strongly articulated to all levels of government:

  • any changes to regulations must apply a ‘no disadvantage’ test for Australian industry
  • current limits to truck width can restrict model availability and add costs to the industry – HVIA supports increasing truck width to 2.55 metres, with axle mass limit increases
  • current limits to trailer width do not limit model availability, nor add cost to the industry, and are not a productivity impediment – therefore, HVIA does not support blanket increases to trailer width.

“In the past, HVIA has called for a RIS (regulatory impact statement) that segments the trailer market and evaluates the impacts on a case-by-case basis,” Ritzinger says.

“It is absolutely critical that the impact on the competitiveness of the Australian industry and the retooling costs are adequately considered.”


RELATED ARTICLE: NHVR releases discussion paper calling for heavy vehicle width change


The HVIA says analysis of the detail of the proposed implementation plan further highlights the need for government to hold off on increasing trailer width.

HVIA’s national policy and government relations manager Greg Forbes says the proportion of trucks with the safer freight vehicle (SFV) package fitted needs to be large enough before changes to trailer width will make sense.

“The model proposed by the NHVR would restrict wider trailers from being towed by vehicles which did not have the full suite of SFV features fitted,” Forbes says.

“This would cause basic interoperability issues for fleets with wider trailers; having a fleet of trucks with and without the safety features would be difficult to manage in an operational sense.”

The paper also highlights the need to review and update previous industry-led advice regarding brake system interoperability but does not recognise the significant time and effort required.

“The current guide to braking stability and performance for heavy vehicle combinations was the result of several years of collaboration between six industry associations and five brake equipment manufacturers and suppliers,” Ritzinger says.

“Updating that guide will take time and it must be done correctly, as the industry relies on that advice to be able to operate safely.”

Forbes says the HVIA has consistently pushed for a measured and thorough approach to the proposed changes to the Australian Design Rules.

“While changing truck width to 2.55m as soon as possible makes sense, there is a lot more work to be done before government should even consider changing trailer width,” he says.

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