NatRoad adds voice to vehicle width calls


Campaign to change legal limit gaining momentum

NatRoad adds voice to vehicle width calls
NatRoad has weighed in on the issue of heavy vehicle width in Australia

 

The National Road Transport Organisation (NatRoad) has added weight to recent appeals to increase the maximum width for heavy vehicles in Australia.

The industry organisation calls for the limit to be increased to 2.55 metres – and 2.6m for refrigerated vehicles – and that governments grant general access to vehicles with these widths.

NatRoad says it has lobbied government officials on these proposals, with research on the repercussions of making such changes being conducted by Austroads. 

It argues the current limits are an impediment to reducing the age and increasing the safety of Australia’s truck fleet.

It quotes statistics that, to meet current Australian regulations, heavy vehicles must be 50 to 100mm (2-4 per cent) less in width than vehicles in other major markets, costing manufacturers up to $15-30 million per year to redesign their vehicles, which can reduce the availability of safer, cleaner models entering the local market. 


HVIA also added the issue of vehicle width to its agenda recently. Read more here


NatRoad also notes that already the regulations – section 8 Heavy Vehicle (Vehicle Standards) National Regulation – permit heavy vehicles to be 2.5m wide when taking into account load restraint.

Arguments against increasing the width have previously included potential safety risks that may arise because of reduced separation between vehicles and vulnerable road users such as cyclists. 

"NatRoad believes that the arguments against the move to greater width flies in the face of available evidence," it says.

"The evidence shows that with greater width the capacity to install side underrun protection increases. 

"These devices protect road users such as pedestrians and cyclists from slipping sideways under the wheels of trucks and trailers and may also improve the aerodynamic performance of heavy vehicles. 

"In addition, the assessment of on-road performance for different heavy vehicles shows that the PBS variant of each particular heavy vehicle generally performs better in safety and efficiency terms than the corresponding vehicle subject to prescriptive standards."

The organisation says the "disappointing part of the work being undertaken is that it excludes assessing potential changes to vehicle mass", and that it supports greater maximum steer axle loads, or at least further research on the effects of taking that step when heavy vehicles use certain tyre types.

"The review of the Heavy Vehicle National Law [HVNL] which is now underway should mean that all of the basic building blocks of the current law, particularly about vehicle dimensions, should be under scrutiny. 

"A move to 2,550mm maximum width should be embraced as part of the review if not sooner."

 

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