The overall width limit for trucks in Australia has been increased from 2.5m to 2.55m for new prime movers fitted with a number of safety features.
Federal Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Carol Brown made the landmark Safer Freight Vehicles package announcement today, with the new rules being rolled out from October 1.
The safety features include devices to reduce blind spots, electronic stability control, advanced emergency braking, a lane departure warning system, better reflective markings, and side guards to stop pedestrians and cyclists from being caught up under the rear wheels of trucks.
Additionally, several safety devices and sensors will be able to be fitted to trucks without counting towards width and length measurements. These include front and kerb view mirrors, external parts of camera monitor systems, blind spot sensors, and cross-view mirrors.
The overall width limit for buses and trailers won’t change, however, they will also benefit from more safety devices being excluded from width and length measurements.
The government estimates the changes will provide a net benefit of more than $500 million to the Australian economy by reducing the number of road freight trips businesses will need to take, saving them money and lowering their environmental impact.
“This Safer Freight Vehicles package responds to direct calls from industry to increase the width limit of trucks, and follows extensive public consultation and feedback,” Brown said.
“These changes will be a real game-changer for industry, businesses and other road users, as they will save lives by adopting technology to reduce the likelihood of crashes, while also lowering freight costs and supporting better environmental outcomes.”
Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia (HVIA) CEO Todd Hacking said the historic announcement is a huge step forward for the industry.
“Removing unnecessary roadblocks and impediments to truck safety and productivity underpins what we do, and we thank Minister Brown’s office for recognising the importance of this reform,” Hacking said.
Crucially, the change does not affect width limits for trailers, an issue which Hacking says is a key part of HVIA’s policy, intended to protect Australia’s local trailer manufacturing industry from bearing unnecessary re-tooling costs.
“To see that the announcement is perfectly aligned with HVIA’s policy, as guided by members, is a testament to how effective advocacy can be when it is backed by a solid safety and economic case.”
Greg Forbes, HVIA’s national manager of policy and government regulations, was also supportive of the announcement.
“The limit of 2.5 metres for trucks restricts model availability, limits access to safety and environment technologies, and adds unnecessary costs,” he added.
“Conversely, current trailer width limits do not impose the same restrictions, and if changed would actually impose additional costs in the form of re-tooling manufacturing facilities.”
The Truck Industry Council, the peak industry body and advocacy voice for manufacturers and importers, said the decision to increase truck width by 50mm will allow better alignment with international markets, such as Europe.
“Allowing 2.55m width vehicles on Australian roads meant that these vehicles could be fitted with the latest safety technologies and importantly will result in the faster deployment of zero emission vehicles in Australia,” McMullan said.
Brown also notes that while the change will allow manufacturers to design and supply these safer trucks in Australia, operators should continue to engage with their registration authority to determine whether road access permits are required.