HVIA seeks better PBS braking and rollover control

National regulator called on to tackle lack of top-line equipment for relevant vehicles

HVIA seeks better PBS braking and rollover control
Brett Wright says there is physical and reputational risk at stake for PBS.


Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia (HVIA) wants the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) to address what it describes as a "fundamental weakness" in Performance Based Standards (PBS) scheme guidelines.

At issue are ‘sophisticated" vehicle combinations with only foundation or "dumb" braking systems and lacking roll-over control.

HVIA CEO Brett Wright says the organisation is concerned about the real risk to both public safety and the future viability of the PBS scheme if this issue is not addressed.

"The use of older trucks in heavy truck and dog combinations, for example, particularly when operating in congested urban environments, is a concern," Wright says.

"The PBS system must provide a reasonable assurance to the community that they are indeed ‘world’s best’.

"In the event of a major accident involving one of these vehicles, a knee-jerk reaction from politicians in response could undermine the whole PBS scheme, do significant reputational damage to both industry and the NHVR and put the productivity benefits gained from PBS at risk."

Through their use of innovative design and engineering, PBS vehicles are the flagships of the heavy vehicle fleet but Wright insists it is critical that PBS vehicles also set a high minimum level of dynamic safety performance.

"HVIA has worked closely with our members to develop a policy which can address these safety concerns while not placing undue burden on those operators that are doing the right thing," he adds.

The document, HVIA Policy Position - Performance Based Standards – Safety Technology, reflects widespread support in the industry for adoption of enhanced braking standards and stability control.

The HVIA notes the federal government is working on revisions to Australian Design Rule (ADR) 35 (Commercial Vehicle Brake Systems) and 38 (Trailer Brake Systems), however implementation is unlikely before 2019/20 at the very earliest.

Wright says those revisions will only apply to new vehicles and will not prevent older trucks with basic braking systems being used in PBS combinations.

"HVIA’s policy provides a mechanism for NHVR to manage the risks inherent in the current approach," he continues.

"It provides an easy to implement mechanism for underpinning the adoption of these technologies in the PBS fleet while we wait for the ADR’s to be updated.

"It achieves this by providing a baseline level of dynamic safety to safeguard the PBS scheme, while minimising the impact on the industry as a whole and providing appropriate exemptions for extreme unsealed road environments.

"The adoption of this policy is a measured response which will provide a tangible improvement to the safe operation of the PBS fleet."

The document can be found here.

Wright’s comments come as the NHVR reports a surge in PBS take-up while confirming truck-and-dog combinations continue to lead the field.

The latter aspect is a point of contention, with the likes of PBS expert Ken Cowell saying in September’s issue of ATN that they were not originally envisaged as being the main beneficiary and that more innovation and greater access provisions for other combinations are needed.

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