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Impacts of an ageing truck fleet and ways to offset the costs

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Austroads has published a research report which analyses the impacts of an ageing heavy vehicle fleet and explores measures that have been used to manage this challenge overseas.

Trucks in Australia and New Zealand are older than in many other countries. This is due to low barriers to entry, exacerbated by having no secondary disposal market, and few restrictions on how and where they operate.

Richard Delplace, Austroads Transport Network Operations Program Manager, says the oldest heavy vehicles impact the community in several ways, including air pollution, noise, and health but, until now, this issue has been hard to define and manage.

“Defining aged heavy vehichles by their emissions standard provides the clearest definition and will likely result in the greatest positive impact of any targeted actions,” said Delplace.

In this project, an aged heavy vehicle was defined as being above 4.5 tonnes GVM, used in freight transport and manufactured before 2008. Three sub-classes of categorisation are based on the vehicle’s compliance with exhaust emission standards in the Australian Design Rules.

Mark Gjerek, lead consultant on this research, says the nature and structure of the national fleet and freight sector means that the aged truck problem is difficult to overcome with equitable and effective measures.

“Across the world, governments have taken action to reduce the impacts of aged trucks in their jurisdictions. International best practice suggests that different kinds of measures should be combined to achieve the greatest effect,” said Gjerek.

“Our study presents examples of actions that could directly influence the aged truck fleet. These can be broadly classified into four types of action: road access restrictions, financial penalties, financial incentives, and retrofit/repower programs.”

Added Delplace: “Freight and heavy vehicle regulation and planning are currently being reviewed on several fronts. This is the perfect time to consider this issue to ensure it is included in future planning for a safer, healthier and cheaper freight network.”

In its recent submission to the Australian Government’s Future Fuels Strategy, the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) is calling for the implementation of a temporary zero emission truck purchase incentive.

“New, low emission transport technologies will never become a reality if they are not viable commercial options for trucking operators,” said CEO of the ATA, Andrew McKellar.

To download the full Austroads report go here.

The research team is also presenting the main findings of the report in a free webinar on May 27, from 1-2pm, AEST.

Topics of discussion include:

  • why older trucks are used
  • the facts about environmental, health and safety costs of using aged trucks
  • best-practice examples for managing community impacts
  • other insights and implications from the research.

To register your spot, click here.

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