ATA 2015: Language needs to change on higher productivity trucks: Petroccitto

By: Brad Gardner

Community acceptance will decide the fate of higher productivity vehicles, according to NHVR boss.

ATA 2015: Language needs to change on higher productivity trucks: Petroccitto
NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto says community support is essential to the success of PBS.


The language used to describe higher productivity vehicles must change if the trucking industry hopes to gain community support for them, according to the CEO of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR).

Sal Petroccitto told this year’s Trucking Australia conference he is concerned with the terminology used to describe the vehicles, with the most recent example being this year’s Australian Logistics Council (ALC) conference.

He says there was reference made to the Performance Based Standards (PBS) scheme allowing "larger and heavier" trucks on the road network.

"If you tell someone from the community you’re putting something on the road that’s larger and heavier they’re going to get scared of it, but if potentially you start to say to the community you’re looking at something that’s more productive and safer and if you get that on the road you can have less of them, it’s a different discussion," Petroccitto says.

"And I think as an industry, collectively, we need to start to look at our language and terminology."

Petroccitto has put the onus on industry associations to focus their efforts on building community support for the PBS scheme, which the NHVR manages, and the vehicles enrolled in it.

"I think collectively, and this is probably aimed more at the associations than the industry players and operators, the terminology and the way we talk about productivity is critical if we are going to be successful," he says.

"And if we are going to bring the community along, we need to look at the way we educate and inform them in terms how the advancements in our industry is delivering better outcomes for them."

During his speech to Trucking Australia attendees, Petroccitto questioned why PBS could not become the new benchmark for heavy vehicles.

PBS-accredited trucks can differ in size to conventional combinations, but Petroccitto says the average motorist would not know the difference between a standard vehicle and a PBS-accredited truck.

"If I run them past my wife she wouldn’t know the difference. But each one of those trucks is delivering a productivity improvement of somewhere to 10 to 15 per cent, safer to a driver, more efficient and ultimately less trucks on the road," he says.

Petroccitto says he is looking at ways to improve the running of the scheme, including accelerating the time taken for operators to gain accreditation.

He says the NHVR has improved performance timeframes but that more needs to be done.

"I’ve still got some concerns about Performance Based Standards in terms of how they then navigate through the access process and that’s a discussion I need to collectively have with state road agencies," Petroccitto says.

"We can’t fast-track something at one end just to have it caught at another end while a significant investment sits while you get an approval permit."

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