The trucking industry has welcomed the federal government’s decision this week to allow wider, safer trucks on Australia’s roads.
Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Carol Brown announced the five-centimetre width increase for new trucks fitted with advanced safety features.
Australian trucks are 2.5 m. Trucks in Europe are 2.55 m wide; trucks in the USA are 2.6 m wide.
Chair of the Australian Trucking Association, David Smith, said the increase in truck width to the 2.55 m 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,” Smith said.
“This will include battery electric or hydrogen fuel cell trucks.”
Smith said the government’s decision meant there would be more options for operators, more zero tailpipe emission models and more competition for the sector’s capital investment dollars.
The safety package for the new, wider trucks includes better indirect vision for drivers, lane departure warning, side underrun protection for rigid trucks and high visibility marking for tough trucks.
“The new requirements for seeing into blind spots will increase safety for car drivers, pedestrians and cyclists,” 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 precisely,” Smith said.
“In our discussions with the government, we agreed on truck rear vision mirrors that will improve visibility and ensure 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 m standard, which would make the market even more competitive and deliver more safety and productivity gains,” he said.
“As the next step, the government should increase the width of trailers to 2.55 m and allow trucks and trailers with flat sides, such as refrigerated trucks, to be 2.6 m wide.
“A 2.5-m truck with curtain-side devices has a 2.6 m envelope. Allowing 2.6-m flat-sided trucks and trailers would reduce the energy needed to refrigerate freight because the side insulation could be 90 mm rather than 40 mm thick,” he said.
The Australian Trucking Association is the peak body representing 59,000 trucking businesses and 200,000 people.