WINNING SCHEME: PBS vehicles are reducing the impact on the environment and road infrastructure.
WINNING SCHEME: PBS vehicles are reducing the impact on the environment and road infrastructure.

Better-performing trucks key to safer haulage

THE link between Australia's 400-plus road managers, heavy vehicle operators and the NHVR is vital to heavy vehicle productivity and safety across Australia.

Road managers are responsible for the movement of two billion tonnes of freight around Australia every year.

Heavy vehicles are usually on local roads to either take materials and consumable items into communities or take out things grown or manufactured.

Last week, the NHVR hosted engineers representing more than 60 road managers to discuss access issues, the growing role of high-productivity vehicles, the challenges of assessing roads and bridges for access and success stories that come from opening up networks for heavy vehicle use.

Councils shared the steps they were taking to reduce permit application volumes by increasing the number of pre-approved routes or joining with nearby councils to establish networks for major local industries. Some councils were working across borders to establish consistency for assessment software.

High quality mapping of local networks is vital so road managers can better plan for freight movements and respond to access requests quickly and consistently.

There was significant discussion around innovation, in particular the role of high-productivity Performance Based Standards vehicles. For example, some road managers were surprised to learn a 30-metre PBS A-double had a smaller swept path at an intersection than a 26m B-double.

For more than a decade, the PBS scheme allowed heavy vehicle operators to use innovation to achieve greater productivity and improved safety. At the same time PBS vehicles are reducing the impact on the environment and infrastructure.

Recent studies showed PBS vehicles are involved in 46 per cent fewer crashes per kilometre travelled than conventional vehicles. They deliver substantial environmental and community benefits, including savings of an estimated 135 million litres of fuel a year and notably less impact on roads and bridges. These savings will continue as the size of the PBS fleet grows.

During the seminar the NHVR released two important resources to assist road managers to assess PBS access to the network. The PBS Vehicle Configurations chart showed 32 common combinations approved under PBS.

A new booklet, PBS - A guide for Road Managers, provided more detailed information and examples to assist road managers understand the benefits of PBS vehicles on the roads. Both are available at www.nhvr.gov.au

Overall, the key to the discussion around access was the importance of sharing knowledge about streamlining the process.

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