Call For Tougher PBS Rules

The Heavy Vehicle Industry Association is calling for a higher level of safety measures to be introduced as standard across all new Performance Based Standards (PBS) approvals. The announcement was made after a recent HVIA Manufacturers’ Council approved a draft policy to be submitted by the association.


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“HVIA is committed to improving the safety and productivity of the heavy vehicle fleet,” said Brett Wright, HVIA CEO. “PBS vehicles are the flagships of the fleet and it is critical that they meet a high minimum level of dynamic safety performance which provides assurance to the community that they are indeed ‘world’s best’.”


The policy outlines how, currently, PBS looks for brake compatibility, proportioning, slack adjusters and ABS/EBS to ensure safe braking. The HVIA maintain these rules mean an operator could get PBS approval for vehicles of any age and could include a seven axle truck and dog combination, over 20 years old, operating in a congested urban environment.


“These very open requirements mean that conforming PBS vehicles may have widely different performance characteristics,” says the HVIA’s draft policy document. “HVIA is also aware that the standards of the road infrastructure on PBS routes can vary considerably with some sections of new roads on major highways conforming to the highest standards while some older sections may only be marginally compliant and may have deteriorated since they were originally assessed.


“All it takes is for a marginal vehicle to be operating on a marginal part of the network with a small amount of driver error or adverse weather conditions to end up with a potential disaster. Australia’s PBS fleet is promoted as world’s best and the safest. This provides the community with some comfort around the use of PBS vehicles and has allowed high productivity vehicles to flourish.


“The reality is many vehicles in the PBS fleet do not reflect the level of safety performance portrayed. There is not much that can be done about the road infrastructure, weather conditions or driver error in the short run. However, we can do something about eliminating the poorer performing PBS vehicles in the fleet.”


The solution proposed by the HVIA wants all newly approved PBS designs and all new vehicles built to existing designs be required to be compliant and fitted with a minimum of:

for trucks – ABS and electrical connections per Australian Design Rule (ADR) 35/04 

for trailers – EBS per UNECE R13 with a Vehicle Stability Function which shall include Roll-over control meeting the requirements of Annex 21 of UNECE R13.


“Mandating these minimum requirements will provide a baseline level of dynamic safety performance for the PBS fleet,” states the HVIA policy paper. “Whilst trucks may be retrofitted with ABS and the other requirements of ADR 35/04, it is recommended that operators take the opportunity to upgrade their fleet and utilise a more recent model of truck. ADR 35/04 which mandated ABS came into effect on 1 July 2014 for all new model trucks and 1 January 2015 for all new trucks.


“ABS sets a reasonable level of performance which is compatible with any trailer EBS/Roll-over control system. Operators are able to fit EBS and/or ESC to their truck and this is highly recommended where the compatibility of the vehicle combination can be assured.


“Additional flow on effects of the proposal include: PBS trucks (built after 2012) will feature Front Under-run Protection (FUPS) certified to ADR 84 and UN ECE- R93; and safer cabs via their compliance with UN ECE –R29 for cabin strength. Both these features further protect the driver and the road user. Improved auxiliary braking performance is also a feature of later ADR 80/02 and ADR 80/03 emissions level vehicles which were introduced from 2007/8.”


The HVIA is looking for feedback from the industry on these proposals and has said it will consider all submissions, and if adopted will call for the policy’s implementation by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator and the state and territory governments.