Sharp rise in single vehicle truck crashes

National Transport Insurance (NTI) has indicated the number of single vehicle truck accidents involving rollovers or running off the road more than doubled from July to October last year compared with the same period in 2010.

According to NTI chief executive Tony Clark, the revelation should serve as a wake-up call for everyone in road transport during the return to full swing after the Christmas/ New Year break.

“NTI prides itself on working together with the trucking industry to create safer roads around Australia– not just for truck drivers but for all road users,” Tony Clark said.

“We urge all truck operators to continue their focus on driver management and vehicle maintenance, to ensure fatigue and other risk factors do not put the driver, or other road users, at greater risk.”

NTI’s 2011 Major Accident Investigation Report, released recently by the National Truck Accident Research Centre, reported that fatigue and inappropriate speed were responsible for almost 50 percent of all serious truck accidents.

“I encourage all truck operators, from fleet managers to owner-drivers, to read a copy of the report to ensure they are aware of the latest trends and causes of serious truck accidents,” Clark concluded.

ATA’s push for lower A-trailer charge

ATA chief executive Stuart St Clair

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) is pressing on with its quest for a significant reduction in the registration cost for lead or ‘A’ trailers in B-double combinations. It claims the annual registration charge for a tri-axle A-trailer has increased from $1065 in 2007-08 to $6525 in 2011-12.

The focus of the ATA’s investigation is a consultation paper released by the National Transport Commission (NTC) last December outlining four options for reducing the registration charges on A-trailers.

According to ATA chief executive Stuart St Clair, the massive increase in registration charges has regrettably forced some truck operators to relinquish the use of B-doubles.

“B-doubles are safer than conventional combinations due to their design which provides a high level of roll stability,” Stuart said. “They also have the latest safety features such as ABS, and B-double drivers are licensed to a higher standard.”

“Furthermore, B-doubles can carry significantly more freight than a standard semi-trailer, which reduces the number of heavy vehicles on the road. This, in turn, reduces the number of accidents, and the amount of fuel needed to manage a given freight task.

“The charging system should encourage truck operators to use high productivity vehicles, not punish them for investing in the latest, and safest, truck combinations.

“Our policy team is reviewing the figures in the NTC consultation paper. We have also asked a series of technical follow up questions as we work to lodge a submission in response to the paper.”

How ‘Lo’ can you go?


'Wanted': Never mind a leather interior, this beast has hide on the outside.

Western Star is set to display a stunningly customised 4900EX Lo Max aptly named ‘Wanted’ at this year’s International Truck, Trailer & Equipment Show (ITTES). The show will be held on three days from March 15 to 17 at the Melbourne showgrounds at Ascot Vale.

‘Wanted’ was created by a team of custom design specialists in the US for last year’s Mid America truck show using the ‘Wild West’ theme for inspiration.

Seemingly no amount of customisation was deemed too outlandish. For instance, never mind a leather interior, this beast has the hide on the outside with fishnet-finish leather wrapped fuel tanks masquerading as saddle bags, complete with buckles and straps, along with studded leather-clad side steps, toolboxes and 22-inch deep front bumper. Taking pride of place in the bumper’s centre is a massive cog shaped ‘belt buckle’ featuring the Western Star logo.

Highlighting the immaculate custom paint job are intricate scrollwork designs etched into polished metal components including wheel rims, air cleaner cans, muffler heat shields, roof-mounted air deflector sides and rear mudguard embellishment strips.

Completing the exterior picture is a matching pair of unique ‘double-barrel’ exhaust stacks, pointing skyward as though poised to fire a volley of warning shots.  

The ‘Wanted’ truck’s cab interior, which has not been altered from factory specs, showcases Western Star’s new interior  featuring all-new timber cabinets and table, as well as ‘prairie tan’ coloured upholstery, dashboard and door trims.

Typically, Western Star’s show trucks are pre-purchased by a dealer or customer, who takes possession after the truck has been on show. However, due to its immense popularity, Western Star has held onto ‘Wanted’ longer than usual to allow show-goers across the globe the opportunity to see this sensational Star in the flesh.

The company stresses that ‘Wanted’ was built expressly as a show truck and the Lo Max model is not available in Australia.


BBS bulks up with PBS approved A-doubles

Broadbent Bulk Services (BBS) has called on the expertise of leading trailer manufacturer Freighter to design and build A-double combinations capable of delivering vast productivity improvements operating under PBS (Performance Based Standards).

Having started as a bulk grain container packing facility servicing south-east Queensland and northern NSW, Toowoomba-based BBS moved into road transport following the acquisition of Findlay Bulk Haulage in March 2007. The subsequent ability to offer the full logistics service has seen demand for its services skyrocket.

To effectively meet this demand, BBS operations manager Shane Noble was drawn to the idea of the A-double combination.

“I’d seen an A-double combination running with a steerable dolly, but discovered the steerable dolly made the price exorbitant,” Shane said. “So I thought there must be a better solution and went about finding a manufacturer who shared this view.

“Several companies I approached weren’t willing to go through the PBS approval process and just wanted to sell me another trailer ‘off the shelf’,” he continued. “Eric Ey at Freighter Maxi-CUBE, on the other hand, was only too happy to help and managed the whole process from start to finish.”

“Our engineering team had told us that a steerable dolly didn’t really change the performance of the A-double trailer combination,” commented Eric Ey, Freighter Maxi-CUBE’s westernQueenslandarea manager. “In fact, changing from a steerable dolly to a regular dolly eliminated a few problems for us such as excessive tyre wear and poor performance on rough roads. To us, the steerable dolly seemed to be an unnecessary and ongoing expense, so it was just a matter of waiting for the right customer willing to put the theory into practice.

“BBS came to us wanting two sets of A-double skels without steerable dollies,” Eric continued. “That was the first challenge, but we already had our idea for a solution to that. The second request was to use a Kenworth T909 prime mover. A lot of people said you couldn’t use a bonneted truck to haul an A-double, so Shane’s request gave us the opportunity to prove two industry myths wrong!”

The Freighter engineering team went to work on creating a workable solution for BBS, designing a lightweight trailer set incorporating a regular dolly instead of a steerable dolly and using wider axle spacings on both the skels and dolly to cater for the bonneted prime mover.

“Of course with PBS applications you have to factor in more than just the trailer configuration,” Eric added. “The truck weight and specifications are involved too, as well as reaching certain benchmarks with regards to performance, such as acceleration ability, ability to maintain speed up a hill, swept paths, frontal and tail swing, amongst other things. Our solution got through the entire approval process without a hitch.”

The end result was a light tare A-double with a regular dolly that can carry two full 29 tonne containers and still fall within the 79 tonne gross weight limit specified for the route between Toowoomba and the Port of Brisbane.

“On a higher mass route they could haul two 32 tonne containers which is a huge load by any measure,” Eric enthused. “What’s more, roll stability is just as good with the regular dolly as with a steerable dolly, without the added cost.”

When the PBS process was completed and the trailers delivered, Shane Noble couldn’t have been happier.

“The trailers are a huge success,” he lauded. “Not only are they achieving the payloads we were hoping for, but the final price was even more affordable than we’d envisaged.”





The Freighter A-double carries two full 29 tonne containers, or four empties.

Dana and Eaton end association

Dana Holding Corporation and Eaton Corporation have jointly announced the cessation of their marketing relationship by the middle of 2012.

Eaton says it will continue to provide field service and support for all Eaton and Dana products under the Roadranger brand through to the middle of 2012, after which Dana is expected to have systems in place to effectively service and support its customers independently.

“Going to market independently will afford Dana greater opportunity to communicate with customers directly and to better understand their needs,” said Mark Wallace, president of Dana’s on-highway driveline technologies business. “This closer, direct relationship with customers will, in turn, provide the foundation for innovation and technology in Dana’s core axle, driveshaft, wheel end and tyre management systems.”

According to Tim Sinden, president of Eaton’s truck operations inNorth America, “Eaton intends to continue operating the Roadranger marketing organisation as it has in the past, focused exclusively on serving its customers.”

ATA seeks legal advice on national truck law


ATA policy manager, David Coonan.

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has commissioned follow up legal advice on how to fix the liability of business managers and directors under the new national truck laws.

According to the ATA, under draft laws before the Queensland parliament, company directors and executives, business partners and the managers of unincorporated trucking businesses are all presumed at fault if their business is found guilty of chain of responsibility offences.
They must then prove their innocence, even though one of the fundamental principles of Australia’s legal system is that people are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
ATA policy manager, David Coonan, said the legal advice would propose a tough but fair approach to chain of responsibility.
“The legal advice will put forward changes to the law so directors and company officers are innocent of chain of responsibility offences until proven guilty. But they will also have a positive duty to ensure their business complies with the law, which will strengthen their responsibility for road safety whether they run a trucking business or are one of the industry’s customers,” David said.
The legal advice will also propose changes to ensure access to decisions made by road managers are subject to a merits-based appeal process.
“All too often, road managers like local councils refuse to issue truck access permits for reasons that are inconsistent or unclear,” he added. “What’s needed is an appeals process with an independent tribunal.
“It’s the only way we can secure the productivity gains expected to flow from the national truck laws, because those gains depend heavily on better road access,” Coonan concluded.

Isuzu notches 23rd year at the top

Continuing its extraordinary domination of the overall Australian truck market, Isuzu Trucks has recorded its 23rd consecutive year atop the sales charts with total market leadership in 2011.

Official T-mark industry reports reveal Isuzu finished 2011 with a total of 6617 units delivered and a market share of almost 24 percent – 3283 units and 11.8 percent ahead of its nearest competitor.

The brand positively blitzed the light-duty segment selling 3320 units for the year. This represents a 37.6 percent share which is more than the combined shares of respective second and third placegetters Fuso and Hino.

Isuzu also comfortably led medium-duty truck sales with a total of 2553 units denoting 40.7 percent market share. This result left Isuzu more than 17 percent clear of Hino in this segment with a volume buffer of over one thousand units.

The brand also performed admirably in the heavy-duty market – with a 7.9 percent market share and volume of 744 units confirming Isuzu’s position as Australia’s favourite Japanese brand in the heavy-duty class.

Isuzu Australia Limited (IAL) director and chief operating officer Phil Taylor said the brand had remained resilient despite last year’s demanding business conditions and the impact of natural disasters in Japan.

“Given the challenges of 2011, we are very pleased with the outcome,” Taylor said. “The combination of a challenging business environment coupled with the flooding in Queensland and Japanese natural disasters – which subsequently affected vehicle production – made for an extremely demanding year.”

He went on to confirm that the company remained positive about the year ahead.

“Our business analysts predict upwards of four percent growth in the truck market this year,” he stated. “While this will still leave the industry and broader economy some way off buoyant pre-GFC levels, it will nonetheless provide a positive trend for a gradual return to stronger growth in the medium to longer term.”

UD ‘top of the Japs’ in over 350 hp class

UD Trucks has continued to dominate the over 350 hp Japanese heavy-duty bracket, claiming top spot for the seventh consecutive year with sales of its GK, GW and CW models, now collectively known as Quon.

Prior to the start of UD’s reign at the top of the charts, the earlier CW 385/445 models held down second place in the same segment for three years running, giving the company an unbroken decade in the top two positions.

The Quon Euro 5 models launched in mid-2011 feature as standard an SRS driver’s airbag and seatbelt pre-tensioner, a front under-run protection system (FUPS), an all new-touch screen entertainment and navigation system and new A-pillar grab handles for improved cab access.

Last year also saw the reintroduction of the legendary CW nameplate to the Quon range, with the designation being applied to the long wheelbase model suited to heavy-duty rigid applications such as furniture vans and tilt trays.

All up, since January 2008 UD Trucks has sold a total of 603 GW, GK and new generation CW units.

“The Australian sales success of the Quon series of heavy-duty trucks and its predecessors demonstrates that our clients look for well engineered and environmentally friendly trucks,” said Erik J. Andersson, vice president, UD sales. “Driver safety is also a high priority for many fleet managers now, which made the decision to equip the entire Quon range with a standard driver’s airbag an easy one.

“With the latest ECO Fleet emission reduction system in place on the Quon, the power plant has been developed to meet the stringent JPLT 05 standard,” Erik added. “Needless to say, we won’t be resting on our laurels, and we aim to continue improving our product line-up into the future.” launches in 2012

On behalf of my colleagues at The Intermedia Group (TIG), I’d like to warmly welcome you to the freshest website dedicated to providing the Australian trucking fraternity with the very latest news and information from here and abroad.

Dovetailing with DIESEL magazine, TIG’s bi-monthly trucking publication that was established in 2001, our aim with this website is to provide our readers with the most comprehensive industry coverage possible.

We will at all times endeavour to provide accurate and up to date content and any feedback or suggestions you might have as to how we may improve this service will be gladly welcomed. Furthermore, we’ll be happy to consider for publishing any submissions of news or views pertinent to the industry.

As can be seen from the following news stories, 2012 is shaping up as a positive year for the industry with a number of truck and equipment manufacturers planning to ramp up production in anticipation of increased customer demand.

This upward trend has been reflected in steadily improving new truck and equipment sales in the latter part of last year following the devastating natural disasters that occurred in several parts of the world including Australia.

All up, despite the ongoing economic uncertainty in Europe, the future looks bright for our industry and we look forward to growing with it in the years ahead.

Thanks for your support and enjoy the read.

Paul Matthei


Heil Trailer sold to US interests

Formerly owned by Dover Corporation, global road tanker and specialty trailer manufacturer Heil Trailer International has been sold to American Industrial Partners, a middle market private equity firm.

The deal is said to be worth approximately US$220 million.

Following the sale, Heil Trailer appointed Randall Swift as its chief executive officer. Prior to joining Heil Trailer, Swift was CEO of Allied Specialty Vehicles Inc (ASV), manufacturer of a diverse range of specialty vehicles including ambulances, terminal trucks, fire trucks, school buses, and motor homes, among other products. ASV is a portfolio company of American Industrial Partners.

In addition, Bob Foster has re-joined Heil Trailer as its chairman of the board. Foster was president of Heil Trailer for 15 years prior to his retirement in 2006, during which time he successfully led a number of growth initiatives that more than doubled the company’s size and made it a globally diversified operation.

“I look forward to continuing the company’s focus on the fundamental elements of what built Heil Trailer into the business it is today – taking care of our customers and manufacturing the highest quality products in the industry,” Foster said. “I am very pleased to be once again part of an independent Heil Trailer.”

Heil Trailer was founded in Wisconsin in 1901 and is headquartered in Athens, Tennessee. The company is a global enterprise with three manufacturing facilities in North America, in addition to facilities in both Thailand and Argentina which address the growing emerging markets of Asia and Latin America respectively.