NatRoad urges truck dimension reconsideration

Vehicle standards must meet driver and industry needs, Clark contends

NatRoad urges truck dimension reconsideration
NatRoads calls for greater priority for high-productivity vehicles, like this B-quad


Driver comfort and industry efficiency must be a priority for truck design requirements, particularly around width and length, the National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) says in a submission to the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) review.

In its latest submission to the National Transport Commission (NTC) answering to the heavy vehicle standards and safety issues paper, it emphasises vehicle standards must reflect current market conditions, up-to-date safety measures and be accessible and transparent.

NatRoad CEO Warren Clark says such principles should be translated into how technical standards for heavy vehicles are developed.

"That way they will be more supportive of driver and operator needs," Clark adds.

"Rather than focusing on these specific criteria, the current law is deficient because compliance is centred on prescriptive, offence-based HVNL requirements. 

"Meeting these requirements does not necessarily equate with being safe.

"We also focus on how vehicle standards should accommodate the safety of drivers by taking into account human factors.

"In the submission we urge a change in dimensions of width and length.

"The issue of length, particularly length to 20 metres for general access, is vital to make sure the additional space is utilised to accommodate a larger sleeping berth. 

"Driver comfort with appropriate rest should be given a priority in the design requirements of heavy vehicles."

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The submission also argues for greater attention on faster and more efficient approval for high-performance vehicles. 

"Relatedly, there does not appear to be a government priority in putting in place road networks for Performance-Based Standards (PBS) vehicles," Clark says.

"PBS vehicles carry freight more efficiently and are safer than other vehicles in the heavy vehicle fleet.

"The rules relating to PBS vehicles must reflect these factors."

NatRoad says it also asks the NTC to compare the range of prescriptive, pedantic offences with the law changes that came into force from October 1, 2018.

"From that date, the primary duty established by s26C HVNL is to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety of the party’s transport activities relating to a heavy vehicle. 

"The large number of prescriptive, harsh offences that still populate the HVNL should be culled as they undermine the intent of this broader duty. 

"That is because the current offences often focus on behaviour that is not unsafe as with the example of a minor, inadvertent escape of material from a load, which is an automatic offence under the law."

The NatRoad submission is available here


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