The trucking industry has welcomed the Government’s decision to allow wider, safer trucks on Australia’s roads.
The Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Carol Brown, announced the five centimetre width increase for new trucks fitted with advanced safety features today.
Australian trucks are 2.5 metres wide. Trucks in Europe are 2.55 metres wide; trucks in the United States are 2.6 metres wide.
Mr Smith said the increase in truck width to the 2.55 metre European standard would save the cost of redesigning European trucks for the Australian market.
“We know that future design changes will be increasingly difficult or not economical to adapt to Australia’s narrower truck width and relatively small market. This will include battery electric or hydrogen fuel cell trucks,” Mr Smith said.
“The Government’s decision means there will be more options for operators, more zero tailpipe emission models and more competition for our capital investment dollars,” he said.
Mr Smith welcomed the safety package for the new, wider trucks, which includes better indirect vision for drivers, lane departure warning, side underrun protection for rigid trucks and high visibility marking for rigid trucks.
“The new requirements for seeing into blind spots will increase safety for car drivers, pedestrians and cyclists,” Mr Smith said.
“The ATA has long argued that trucks need more and better blind spot mirrors. This is particularly true for bonneted trucks, where drivers need to be able to see into their front blind spot.
“But at the same time, drivers need to be able to use their rear vision mirrors to reverse their trucks with precision.
“In our discussions with the Government, we were very pleased that we were able to reach an agreement on truck rear vision mirrors that will improve visibility and ensure that drivers can still use their mirrors as they were trained.
Mr Smith said there was still work to be done on truck width.
“There is a compelling case for increasing the width of trucks and trailers to the US 2.6 metre standard, which would make the market even more competitive and deliver more safety and productivity gains.
“As the next step, the Government should increase the width of trailers to 2.55 metres, and allow trucks and trailers with flat sides, like refrigerated trucks, to be 2.6 metres wide.
“A 2.55 metre truck with curtain-side devices has a 2.6 metre envelope. Allowing 2.6 metre flat sided trucks and trailers would reduce the energy needed to refrigerate freight, because the side insulation could be 90mm rather than 40mm thick,” he said.
Mr Smith thanked Assistant Minister Brown, Transport Minister Catherine King and their staff for their consultative approach to the new rules.
“The ATA’s technical staff were able to review the in-confidence drafts of the final design rules. We didn’t get everything we asked for, but it’s a big step forward for model choice and safety,” he said.