Study released on auxiliary brakes for Australian heavy vehicles

A comprehensive study has been released on the subject of auxiliary brakes on Australia trucks and examined the variety of technologies including engine brakes, exhaust brakes and hydraulic and magnetic retarders.

The research was commissioned by the various state and federal road authorities, which comprise the Austroads membership, and was in response to a number of serious incidents involving runaway trucks on long steep grades as well as addressing noise complaints from communities relating to engine brakes.

The study included detailed surveys with stakeholders including road transport operators, vehicle manufacturers and local governments, in addition to a significant amount of controlled field testing that was performed on the Great Eastern Highway in Western Australia.

Some of the report’s key findings included a lack of driver training that focuses on the correct use of auxiliary braking systems and proposed that a training framework be established, along with a driver checklist.

Localised noise issues were also addressed with the report stating that “while a national regulatory approach is soon to be implemented, measures to address noisy engine brake issues, in particular noise cameras and sound barriers should be targeted at areas where community concern is the greatest.”

The report also detailed its approach to the application of differential speed limits for steep grades rather than the “trucks must use low gear approach”, and included a method for scientifically determining the appropriate maximum speed for trucks on particular sections of road.

In addition, the report also suggested that Australian regulators consider mandatory auxiliary brake system performance requirements for certain categories of heavy vehicles for incorporation into both Australian Design Rules (ADRs) and the Performance Based Standards (PBS) Scheme.

The full report can be accessed at the Austroads website.

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