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Freight strategy will improve road safety

24 February 2011

The Australian Government’s draft National Land Freight Strategy will improve road safety by enabling the trucking industry to use longer, safer trucks, the Chief Executive of the Australian Trucking Association, Stuart St Clair, said today.

The Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese, released the strategy this week. It proposes that high productivity trucks should be allowed on a national road network.

Mr St Clair said increasing the use of longer trucks like B-triples on appropriate roads would save lives as well as increasing the industry’s productivity. A B-triple is a prime mover with three trailers linked by turntables.

“Under the Government’s plan, trucking operators would be able to carry the same amount of freight with fewer trucks. For example, two B-triples can do the work of almost five standard semi-trailers. Reducing the growth in the number of trucks and other vehicles on the road will result in fewer accidents,” Mr St Clair said.

“In addition, the prime movers used in B-triples are new and equipped with the latest safety features, such as adaptive cruise control and lane assist technology to alert the driver if the truck drifted out of the centre of its lane.

“Drivers of multi-combination trucks like B-doubles and B-triples are licensed to a higher standard than semi-trailers; and finally these vehicles are safer by design. They are less likely to roll over because of the way they are linked together by turntables.

“When B-doubles were first introduced in Australia, some people claimed they would be much more dangerous than existing semi-trailers.

“Those claims were wrong.

Australia’s major truck insurer, National Transport Insurance (NTI), published research in 2009 showing that B-doubles account for 43.4 per cent of the road freight carried by articulated vehicles in Australia, but only account for 21.8 per cent of major truck crashes.1

“Over the years, the use of B-doubles has reduced the national road toll by at least 350 deaths, because it has enabled the trucking industry to move Australia’s freight with 15,000 to 20,000 fewer large trucks.2

“The Government’s strategy will have equally positive safety results,” Mr St Clair said.

1 Driscoll, O, Major Accident Investigation Report 2009. National Transport Insurance, Springwood, 2009, page 7.
2 Pearson, B. B-doubles: the first decade in Australia. Prime Creative, South Melbourne, 2009, pxiii.