Industry losing fight on HPV


Despite efforts to sell the benefits of higher productivity vehicles, the trucking industry has conceded it is losing the fight to gain support for the combinations

Industry losing fight on HPV
Industry losing fight on HPV
By Brad Gardner | March 15, 2010

Despite efforts to sell the benefits of higher productivity vehicles, the trucking industry has conceded it is losing the fight to gain support for the combinations.

Victorian Transport Association CEO Philip Lovel yesterday told delegates of the International Heavy Vehicle Symposium the message is not getting out on the positives of the vehicles, which can carry two 40 foot containers.

He blamed media reports of monster trucks being unleashed on the road for hindering industry efforts.

The VTA has held education seminars and met governments to push a case for the vehicles, saying their ability to carry more freight can improve efficiency and safety by reducing the number of trucks on the road.

"But we still haven't been able to counter the biased media reporting," Lovel says.

Most reports have centred on the size of the vehicles, raising concerns over safety and whether they are suitable to be introduced.

Bob Pearson, who is labelled the Father of B-doubles for his efforts to get them introduced in the 1980s, says there are similarities between the coverage of the combination back then and higher productivity vehicles now.

Accusing critics of acting as "prophets of doom", Pearson referred to media reports of B-doubles in the '80s which suggested governments were sanctioning murder by supporting the vehicles.

Lovel also took aim at trucking operators and their customers, expressing disappointment at not seeing either in the audience at the symposium.

"It's pretty sad," he says.

"I guess we're leading them into the next generation."

Following his speech, Lovel highlighted the need for customers to play a greater role on transport issues because their needs dictate what operators do.

"The customer is the clue to all this," he says.

Lovel says there is also more to higher productivity vehicles beyond their size.

"When you talk about HPVs everyone worries about the environment and infrastructure," he says.

"[But] it's not about big vehicles or bigger vehicles."

He points to the operator Viridian as an example, whose higher productivity vehicle was built around safety with better load restraints after a workplace fatality.

Higher productivity vehicles are currently being used in Australia in places such as ports and the Green Triangle in South Australia and Victoria.

The International Heavy Vehicle Symposium brings together transport policy makers and industry representatives from around the world.

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