NHVR and HVIA debate PBS review

The industry body is urging the NHVR to close a loophole before the progress of the PBS scheme is hampered

NHVR and HVIA debate PBS review
NHVR’s executive director for productivity and safety Geoff Casey.


The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) is waiting to look at a Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia (HVIA) proposal to protect the Performance Based Standards (PBS) scheme, despite pressure from the industry body.

The HVIA concept pertains to ensuring a safer, higher productivity fleet through the use of targeted measures that address shortcomings in the scheme’s safety requirements.

Central to HVIA’s submission is the growth of PBS truck and dog combinations that have arisen from metropolitan infrastructure projects and their ability to qualify, at any age, with only load-sensing brake technology.

The NHVR says it has taken the submission on board but it waiting onthe Austroads PBS Standard – Directional Stability Under Braking project, which is being finalised for a mid-2017 report.

The body expects a number of recommendations to be raised by the report, NHVR executive director of productivity and safety Geoff Casey says.

"The NHVR is of the opinion that it would be beneficial to consider the outcomes of the Austroads research before any potential changes in the PBS Vehicle Assessment Rules are considered," Casey says.

Highlighting the PBS safety record, Casey says the NHVR will look into brake requirements.

"The Austroads 2014 Quantifying the Benefits of High Productivity Vehicles report confirms that PBS vehicles are on average 60 to 70 per cent safer than conventional, prescriptive heavy vehicle combinations," he says.

"The NHVR strongly supports, and is actively participating in, a review of the PBS requirements, including the braking standards."

That response has sparked a sense of urgency from HVIA, which says it has identified the minimum PBS requirements have fallen behind the Australian Design Rules required for new trucks supplied in the last two years (which require ABS) and only just match them for any trailer combination (which require ABS or load sensing).

"It makes no sense to wait, given that the PBS scheme’s intent is to encourage and facilitate innovative design and engineering but with safety as its cornerstone," HVIA chief executive Brett Wright says.

"PBS vehicles are the flagships of the heavy vehicle fleet.  In fact, the scheme is touted as an international benchmark.

"The 10-year-old scheme has been a slow burn until the last few years when its advantages have become apparent to transport operators seeking higher productivity combinations for specialist tasks.

"Now many more operators are enjoying the scheme’s benefits, however without the rigour that the scheme has promised other road users."

In favour of the scheme, suggesting "it is in everyone’s best interests that the PBS scheme continues to grow," Wright says with the recent growth comes a need for risk reduction.

"It allows the transport industry to move freight far more efficiently," he says. "The payback however, has to be adhering to benchmark safety requirements.

"HVIA has identified that the PBS scheme is at risk given the age loophole and low, outdated braking standards required for approval.

"Should at any point, we witness a serious accident involving one of the poorer performing PBS vehicles there is a high risk that the scheme could be negatively impacted."

While they have good intentions, Wright says federal and state governments are weighed down by a "bureaucratic chain [that] can be cumbersome in delivering outcomes, no matter how good the case is for change," but the same time pressures cannot be said for the NHVR.

"The NHVR, however, has the power to implement simple, tangible measures that will ensure that the intent of the law is delivered in the most practical way," he says.

"A robust PBS scheme encourages and improves productivity, but more than anything, delivers a safer transport environment for the community, through proactive risk management."



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