ABS mandate widely supported but may not suit rural trucking operators

Discussions with the Federal Government are currently taking place which will see the introduction of the compulsory fitment of Antilock Braking Systems (ABS) on all new trucks and trailers from January 1 2014. The proposed change to the Australian Design Rule for braking has been long discussed and generally accepted as an improvement in safety outcomes for the general trucking community.

In its submission to the Department of Transport and Infrastructure, the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) fully supports the introduction of the measure. They regard the introduction of ABS on both trucks and trailers including load sensing on trailers as a vital move to improve safety on heavy vehicles around Australia.

“This ADR is a positive step that will improve heavy vehicle safety in a sensible and affordable manner,” said David Coonan, ATA Policy Manager. “The greatest concern in our submission is to make sure that trailer interchange remains viable during the introduction of mandatory ‘smart’ braking on new trucks and trailers.

“In the years to come, the Australian fleet will have to continue blending old and new braking systems in its modular combinations. To avoid excessive costs and keep operators competitive, industry will need to be able to mix and match these units in a safe and straightforward manner.”

This concern is echoed in consultations by the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) with their members. They have found unease on the part of truck operators who have trucks running at high masses on dirt roads in remote areas.

The ALRTA are supportive, in general, of all safety improvements, but their members have expressed concerns about the cost, reliability and performance of ABS in remote operating environments. Rural operators also use many multiple combinations in their work and are worried about the compatibility issues which may arise in combinations which include some trailers with ABS and some without.

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