When it comes to working with Performance Based Standards, for those working for local authorities, a lack of experience and information can lead to a very cautious and conservative attitude to giving permission to trucking operators to use the authority’s roads. This lack of knowledge has lead to many problems around the country, where more high productivity vehicles can’t be used due to a refusal of access by one road manager along the route.
A solution, from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator was to bring a group of road managers from around the region to Bundaberg in Queensland and show them just what these trucks can do. A new industrial area, yet to be developed, but with its road system already in place, was chosen as the venue, with a series of tight curves and various sizes of roundabout to show off the capabilities of the new combinations.
The PBS system has been developed to allow operators and their engineers to come up with innovative designs to get more productive trucks on the roads without compromising the roads themselves, or safety. Many man hours can be spent convincing individual gate keepers in multiple road authorities of the effectiveness of a new combination and its road friendly features.
“What’s important is access is based on performance,” says Les Bruzsa, NHVR Chief Engineer. “Better performing vehicles will have access to a larger part of the road network. From the road manager point of view, it’s important to understand these vehicles don’t have different axle loads. PBS vehicles have the same axle loads as prescriptive vehicles.
“NHVR is responsible for the PBS process and it’s important to understand, PBS is a very strict process. We have accredited PBS assessors, who are using computer simulation for vehicle testing for compliance. We also have PBS certifiers, who certify every combination going onto the road.
“From our perspective, safety is the key. An Austroads study which looked at crash rates for prescriptive vehicles and PBS vehicles identified there is a 67 per cent reduction in the crash rates for PBS vehicles. It suggested PBS vehicles could save between 96 and 120 lives by 2030.”
As it turned out, the day was a useful exercise for all involved, with a number of the combinations which have proven their worth elsewhere able to prove their effectiveness in the tight confines of an industrial site skirting Bundaberg Airport.
“In the Wide Bay Region, we have an extremely diverse economy,” says Mick Curran, Chair of the Wide Bay Regional Organisation of Councils. “As we all know, a diverse economy needs a diverse base to the various freight tasks , to make sure the goods we grow and manufacture get to their markets, as quickly and as efficiently as possible. We also need the materials we need get our region in the same way.
“Transport is a large component of the cost of production, so it’s important to do all we can, as road managers, to keep that cost down and keep our economy strong. That’s why a group of councils from across Wide Bay embraced the NHVR’s offer to organise a demonstration day to boost awareness of the latest high productivity heavy vehicles.
“The vehicles can deliver the same amount of freight with less truck trips while utilising the most modern vehicles with improved safety features, making the journey safer for all road users. importantly for councils, as road managers, under the Heavy Vehicle National Law, these vehicles will do their job with reduced impacts on our road network, for the same freight task.”