Heavy vehicle dimensions focus of latest industry reforms

A European cabover truck with the EU flag passes by an Australian equivalent.

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has released a Discussion Paper on how to implement the Australian Government’s Safer Freight Vehicle (SFV) reform proposals.

It includes increasing the width of heavy vehicles fitted with modern safety technologies.

NHVR Chief Regulatory Policy and Standards Officer David Hourigan said the reforms would support the uptake of safer heavy vehicles by increasing the overall width up to 2.55m or 2.60m.

“The proposed SFV reforms would increase the fitment of safety technologies to new heavy vehicles by aligning local width regulations with those in major markets such as Europe,” said Hourigan.

“These reforms will give industry access to a greater range of heavy vehicles fitted with the latest safety technologies.

“We want to hear from industry and further unpack how to implement these Australian Design Rule (ADR) changes into the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).”

According to the proposed SFV reforms, any vehicles exceeding 2.50m in width would need to be fitted with a mandatory technology package. This technology package includes features such as: Advanced Emergency Braking (AEB),
Improved rear vision mirrors and systems; lane departure warning; side underrun protection (SUP); and improved conspicuity markings.

Once finalised in Europe, blind spot information systems and advanced systems that detect pedestrians and cyclists on the passenger side of heavy vehicles will also be required as part of the mandatory technology package.

Hourigan said while the Australian Government is still finalising the finer details of these reforms, the NHVR is proactively considering how these changes might change the HVNL.

“The heavy vehicle industry and truck manufacturers are ready for this next generation of safer trucks. The NHVR wants to make sure the HVNL is prepared to get these safer trucks on our roads.”

The release of the paper means that the NHVR is seeking public comment on regulatory changes that have not yet been signed off by Ministers.

HVIA Chief Technical Officer Adam Ritzinger acknowledged there was enormous interest regarding the reforms but expressed concern that the move would likely cause confusion within the industry.

“Up until now, the big question has been when an announcement will be made by Ministers,” said Ritzinger.

“In that sense, the release of the NHVR’s implementation plan has confusingly put the cart before the horse.

“Yet despite that, a greater concern is that the NHVR has considered implementation of wider trailers, which needs further detailed impact assessment before any decision can be made.”

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