Productivity gains promised under South Australian heavy vehicle reforms

By: Brad Gardner

Government pledges to open up more routes to high productivity trucks and expand HML network.


South Australia’s agriculture sector is primed to benefit from a number of reforms to expand heavy vehicle access.

The state’s government has unveiled changes to be in place before the end of June to lift agribusiness productivity.

BAB quads and ABB quads will be granted access to the 53.5m road-train network between the Northern Territory border and Port Augusta, while the maximum permitted length of a prime mover when operating as a semi-trailer will increase from 19m to 20m.

The SA Government expects those two measures alone to increase productivity by at least 18 per cent.

Furthermore, the Government will amend its tri-axle dolly policy to adopt the national rule, approve higher mass limits (HML) access to more Viterra-run grain sites and upgrade a crucial road link at Dublin to support HML weights.

It says the three changes will generate combined productivity gains of at least 34 per cent.

The reforms to heavy vehicle access are designed to meet the existing and future needs of SA’s agribusiness sector, which generates almost $20 billion in annual revenue for the state.

"As South Australia is a net exporter of food, the development of an efficient and effective road transport system (the only means of delivering goods in most regional areas) is vital for economic competitiveness," a report on the reforms states.

Titled A Modern Transport System for Agriculture, the report is a culmination of consultations between government and the industry on the issues confronting the agriculture sector and how to address them.

Responses from a survey of 680 participants formed the basis of the recommendations.

The survey found that the three key issues of concern involved the movement of agricultural machinery on public roads, allowable trailer combinations and ‘last mile’ access to properties or facilities.

"These issues all relate to road access limitations affecting the efficient movement of agricultural equipment and machinery," the report says.

"Opening up the road access network to agricultural vehicles by addressing these issues has the potential to allow more agricultural produce to be moved more safely and with less road wear and at a lower cost to the operator and other businesses."

The Government has also committed to acting on requests relating to night travel for oversize and overmass loads, a relaxation of escort vehicle arrangements and an increase in vehicle dimensions.

Groups involved in the development of the report include Primary Producers SA, the Wine Grape Council of SA, Livestock SA, the SA Freight Council, the Livestock and Rural Transporters Association of SA and the SA Road Transport Association.

"This project is the first coordinated attempt to identify and quantify the road transport issues that limit the operational efficiency with the State’s agricultural sector," the report says.

The SA Government’s decision to allow the length of a prime mover when operating as a semi-trailer to reach 20m will open up greater access for the vehicles.

It says trucks over 19m in length are generally classed as restricted access vehicles (RAV), which limits them to certain parts of the SA road network.

The report says issues that involve state-controlled roads will be addressed as a matter of priority in the short term,

There are a number of industry proposals the Government did not accept, including one to allow light vehicles such as utilities to exceed a manufacturer’s permitted towing capacity.

The Government also rejected a request for blanket access for all RAV trucks in regional areas during harvest and allowing RAV routes to continue across state borders where such routes do not exist.

"South Australia has no jurisdiction beyond its borders in road traffic matters. Access routes out of SA need to be authorised by the NHVR or relevant transport authority," the report says.

However, the Government adds that it will make efforts to address cross-jurisdictional issues when they arise.



Measures complete or to be completed before the end of June 2015

  • Approval for BAB quad and ABB quad road train access to the 53.5m road train network between the Northern Territory border and Port Augusta (8 per cent productivity gain).
  • Extending the maximum permitted length of a road train prime mover when operating as a semi-trailer from 19 to 20m (10 per cent productivity gain).
  • Amending the existing SA tri-axle dolly policy to be nationally consistent (6 per cent productivity gain).
  • Approval for HML heavy vehicles to a access a number of Viterra grain sites (14 per cent productivity gain).
  • Upgrading the road access on Carslake Road, Dublin from general mass limit (GML) to HML (14 per cent productivity gain).
  • Increasing from 100km to 160km the travel radius beyond which a primary producer must carry and fill out a heavy vehicle fatigue work diary (Up to one hour per day per driver productivity gain).
  • Establishing a common registration date to make it easier for a farmer to register multiple farm vehicles.

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