Following the completion of its study on optimum heavy freight vehicle dimensions in Australia, road transport and traffic agency Austroads has said it supports increasing allowable heavy vehicle widths.
“The evidence supports increasing the maximum allowable heavy freight vehicle width from 2500mm to 2550mm (including attachments),” the agency stated.
“New Zealand has allowed heavy freight vehicles to operate at 2,550mm without restriction since 2017 and there has been no reported or anecdotal evidence that the wider vehicles are more likely to be involved in a crash.
“Most of Australia’s trading partners regulate a maximum heavy freight vehicle width of at least 2,550mm and many allow 2,600mm for refrigerated vehicles. This means that most imported heavy freight vehicles must be modified to comply with Australian standards before use in Australia.
“There is a substantial fleet of heavy freight vehicles already entitled to operate in Australia with a width of 2,550mm through exemptions or permits from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator or through the Australian Design Rules and Heavy Vehicle National Law.
“This results in productivity impacts (increased costs of procuring new vehicles and increased cost for operations of modified vehicles) and additional regulation and administration costs in getting approvals from road agencies and National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.
“The need to modify imported heavy freight vehicles before use on Australian roads also results in safety impacts, due to slower penetration of newer vehicles with modern safety technologies and limitations on installing safety technologies which extend beyond the 2,500mm width,” Austroads said.
Some respondents said their support is conditional on mandated safety technologies being included as part of the change. Others raised concerns about the potential impact on domestic manufacturers and challenges for road managers when assessing the risks of wider vehicles.
Austroads said these risks could be mitigated through mandating driver training and implementing specific safety technologies.
A number of respondents also suggested the maximum allowable width should increase to 2,600mm.
“The option to expand the policy change to allow some vehicles access at 2,600mm is recommended for future consideration after the 2,550mm relaxation has been proven on the network,” Austroads said.
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