ATA gives Austroads a serve on truck width

Dimensions project described as of limited scope

ATA gives Austroads a serve on truck width
Austroads has copped some heavy fire on truck width


The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has cast as misguided Austroads’ approach to width.

A research project by government agency Austroads – Exploration of Heavy Freight Vehicle Dimensions: productivity, safety and other considerations – into heavy vehicle dimensions is ignoring the findings of the expert panel inquiry into national freight and supply chain priorities.

"Last year the expert panel inquiry into national freight and supply chain priorities recommended better supply chain integration, including common standards such as the width of refrigerated truck trailers, that should align with major international partners," Australian Trucking Association (ATA) chair Geoff Crouch says

"However, current research work underway by government research body Austroads is exploring moving to an overall permissible width of 2.55 metres, ignoring the international benchmark of 2.6 metres, especially for refrigerated truck trailers. 

"The ATA welcomes the Austroads project’s stated commitment to international harmonisation and exploring greater width, but productivity benefits and supply chain integration do not happen because you write it in a project brief. You’ve actually got to get the policy settings right. 

"An increase in allowable width to 2.6 metres would enable refrigerated trucks to utilise thicker insulated walls without loss of payload. In 38 degrees outside temperatures, these thicker walls would reduce heat gain by 36 per cent and deliver a fuel saving of 2,500 litres per typical refrigerated vehicle per year. 

"Austroads reference the expert panel finding on the need for international harmonisation on the width of refrigerated truck trailers in their own project brief, but have then proceeded to rule it out of scope. 

"They claimed the benefits of harmonising for refrigerated trailers to justify the project, and then refuse to look at what is actually needed to achieve those benefits." 

The ATA believes what it sees as that the limited scope of the Austroads project was bound to limit the findings. 

"The ability of this project to contribute to our understanding of the issues involved in harmonising vehicle dimensions with major international partners will at best be limited," Crouch says. 

"This is a research project, not a policy decision, which makes it the best time to consider the issues and evidence for actually aligning with major international partners. 

"The expert panel inquiry drew on 127 submissions and meetings with over 200 individuals, 28 peak bodies and 90 businesses. 

"Austroads and its government members should actually take note of the outcomes of this consultative process, which was vastly more rigorous than the process undertaken for determining the scope of this limited research project. 

"It would be disappointing if the commitment of governments to delivering a freight strategy, improving productivity and supply chain integration was to fall at the first hurdle of just researching what was actually recommended by the expert panel inquiry."

The Austroads project aims to examine whether the width of Australian heavy freight vehicles can be safely increased.

With consultancy WSP Australia involved, It is to consider whether there is evidence to support a change in Australian Design Rules, and examine the impact of increased vehicle widths on network access.

"If wider vehicles can be safely accommodated on Australian roads, industry would have better access to the latest heavy vehicle technologies through international parts and components markets," Austroads says.

A response to the ATA’s criticism has been sought from Austroads.



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