Industry Issues, Transport Features

Industry responds to heavy vehicle width announcement

Whether it be manufacturers or industry bodies, the transport sector is talking following the recent heavy vehicle width rule changes

The entire transport industry is responding following last week’s major announcement that the federal government will harmonise heavy vehicle width rules.

Federal assistant transport minister Carol Brown released a safer freight vehicles package that including increasing the overall width limit from 2.5 to 2.55 metres for new truck that come fitted with a number of safety features, including lane departure warning systems and advanced emergency braking.

“This Safer Freight Vehicles package responds to direct calls from industry to increase the width limit of trucks and follows extensive public consultation and feedback,” Brown says.

“These changes will be a real game changer for industry, businesses and other road users, as they will save lives by adopting technology to reduce the likelihood of crashes, while also lowering freight costs and supporting better environmental outcomes.

“Our truckies play a vital role in the Australian economy and our day to day lives, ensuring we can access the food, medicines and other goods we need.

“This announcement will mean they can carry out their work more safely and efficiently, so they and those they share the road with can get home safe at the end of each trip.”

The industry has quickly responded, starting with the Australian Trucking Association (ATA), who welcomed the decision for wider and safer trucks on the nation’s roads.

“We know that future design changes will be increasingly difficult or not economical to adapt to Australia’s narrower truck width and relatively small market. This will include battery electric or hydrogen fuel cell trucks,” ATA chair David Smith says.

“The government’s decision means there will be more options for operators, more zero tailpipe emission models and more competition for our capital investment dollars.

“As the next step, the government should increase the width of trailers to 2.55 metres, and allow trucks and trailers with flat sides, like refrigerated trucks, to be 2.6 metres wide.”

The regulator in the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) also moved to comment on the initiative, with CEO Sal Petroccitto saying the changes “allow manufacturers to bring their latest designs, fitted with a full suite of safety and environmental technologies, to market in Australia”.

“Several years ago, the NHVR identified current width limits as a barrier to the take up of safety technologies in our Vehicle Safety and Environmental Technology Uptake Plan (Vehicle SETUP),” he says.

“We have been working with the Commonwealth, our partners and industry to explore how we can enact change to align with international standards and promote the highest possible level of safety.

“The changes introduced by the Safer Freight Vehicles package will ensure the safest vehicles are available in Australia – helping to keep drivers, pedestrians and all road users safe.”

From a manufacturer’s perspective, Scania has been vocal about this change for some time.

“Scania welcomes the decision to implement the 50mm width expansion for new trucks as this will allow us to fit additional safety systems to our trucks, systems that have been commonplace in Europe for some time,” Scania Australia truck sales director Benjamin Nye told ATN.

“A further benefit is the ability to fit low rolling resistance tyres and aero enhancing panels to drive down fuel consumption and emissions even further. We also look forward to an early ruling on front axle weight exemptions to allow more of our 100 per cent Battery Electric Vehicles to be brought to market.”

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