B-double sprays useless; NTC wants them gone

NTC wants requirement spray suppression devices for B-doubles scrapped, saving eastern state operators more than $186 million

B-double sprays useless; NTC wants them gone
B-double sprays useless, so NTC wants them gone
By Brad Gardner | March 31, 2011

Spray suppression devices for B-doubles could be consigned to the dustbin by 2013, saving eastern state operators more than $186 million.

The National Transport Commission (NTC) wants governments to scrap the requirement for the devices to be fitted to B-doubles when national heavy vehicle regulations are introduced in two years’ time.

In its Heavy Vehicle National Law Draft Regulatory Impact Statement, the NTC says trucking operators currently spend about $1500 to fit the devices and about $250 in annual maintenance costs, but there is no evidence to show they improve safety.

It says the devices were mandated due to a mistaken belief that B-doubles were more dangerous than semi-trailers. The devices are designed to reduce the spray from the vehicles to ensure visibility on wet roads is not affected.

"The scientific evidence suggests that spray suppression devices built to the standard are currently of limited effectiveness in real-world conditions," the document says.

"It is therefore questionable if the nearly $55 million in capital costs and $9 million in annual maintenance spent to date represents a justifiable expense."

Western Australia and the Northern Territory do not mandate spray suppression devices, meaning operators from both jurisdictions need to fit the devices when crossing the border to eastern states.

The NTC estimates operators will save a combined $186.2 million over 20 years to 2030 if the devices are discarded.

"New operators would no longer be required to pay the $1500 to have their vehicle fitted with spray suppression devices," the NTC says.

However, it has also recommended an alternative solution whereby eastern states will retain the suppression devices but permit Western Australian Northern Territory operators to cross the border without them.

"The disadvantage is that it puts eastern states vehicles to a cost burden not imposed on Western Australian and Northern Territory vehicles," the NTC says.

According to its estimations, the nearly 12,000 B-doubles currently operating on eastern state roads have invested a combined $17.7 million in spray suppression devices and $2.9 million in total maintenance costs.

"On the basis of the available evidence, excluding the requirement for spray suppression devices from the national law is recommended," the NTC says.

National regulations are designed to end the cross-border differences between jurisdictions. The impact statement outlines solutions to resolving inconsistencies plaguing fatigue management laws, compliance and enforcement policies and heavy vehicle access conditions.

The NTC document draws on the work of an expert panel tasked with looking at the jurisdictional differences. It found 368 variations.

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