Getting PBS to work

The Australian trucking industry has been very patient with the Performance Based Standards (PBS) system for some time. A new discussion paper released by the National Transport Commission is looking at ways to extend the benefits, in terms of increased payload capacity, to non-PBS vehicles with the same specification.

The Discussion Paper aims to get industry and regulator feedback on how this extension of productivity benefits could be achieved and see PBS achieve the kind of improved outcomes promised when it was initially set up.

In essence, the paper suggests heading down the blueprint route. This an avenue which has been tried before, but with the higher numbers of PBS vehicles on the road and the proven advantages of some of the new designs, as well as the introduction of the National Heavy Vehicle Law, the NTC hopes the new blueprints will get a better run this time.


The discussion paper specifically identifies the designs for six and seven-axle truck and trailer combinations which can now be seen on our roads, especially in Victoria. The idea is to identify trucks not currently PBS-certified under the HVNL but do meet the requirements of the current PBS regulations, then allow them to work with same mass limits as PBS approved vehicles.

“This is a further opportunity to save time and money. Under these proposals we can cut red tape and get safer vehicles on our roads. This means more goods can move more efficiently which is good news for consumers,” said Paul Retter, NTC CEO. “Of the four options we are considering, our preliminary research suggests that making PBS-compliant blueprints and specifications more easily accessible is our greatest opportunity to save industry time and money.”

“The scheme has set safety and infrastructure performance standards, but Australia’s transport industry has told us that the uptake has been slowed by the lengthy, costly process of getting a PBS vehicle blueprint approved, built and certified. Since establishing the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL), there are clearer access rights and applications and certifications have got quicker, but we know we can unlock greater savings. This project aims to realise the scheme’s full potential.

“To do this we need to first draw on the wealth of knowledge and experience that exists to set the prescribed requirements and test the viability of the options. We need to hear from engineers, manufacturers, operators, road agencies and drivers so we can all get the most out of the scheme in the future.”

Anyone wanting to provide feedback on the proposed options should visit the NTC submissions page. Submissions close October 28 2014.