L. Investigate the introduction of safer, cleaner heavy freight vehicles by minimising regulatory barriers

Responsibility

Commonwealth

States and territories

Austroads, NHVR, NTC

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The overall age of the heavy vehicle fleet has an impact on safety as newer vehicles have more safety features. It is proposed to investigate ways to encourage the greater uptake of newer, safer, cleaner vehicles into the Australian fleet, including regulatory requirements and the capacity of the road network to accommodate different sizes of vehicles.

To meet current Australian regulations, heavy freight vehicles must be 50 to 100mm (2–4%) less in width than vehicles in other major markets. This costs manufacturers $15–30 million per year to redesign their vehicles, and in some cases reduces the availability of safer, cleaner models.

Regulatory restrictions exist in Commonwealth and state and territory regulations, and include both vehicle size and mass. They were originally introduced to protect infrastructure such as roads, building clearances, and bridge loading limits, and to prevent head-on crashes and reduce conflict with other road users on narrower roads.

All parties will examine current regulatory requirements, as well as network capacity for vehicles of different size and mass, where the roadway can safety accommodate such vehicles and minimise crashes. Subject to this assessment, the Commonwealth will release a discussion paper, ahead of a regulatory package for any agreed changes to heavy freight vehicle width and any other dimensions, and axle transitional mass, in the Australian Design Rules. The NHVR and the state and territory governments will consider additional changes to heavy freight vehicle size and axle mass limits. The aim is to achieve increased take up of safer, cleaner heavy freight vehicles in Australia from a reported 0.1% to be closer to the global average of 2.0%, also leading to a lower average age of the heavy vehicle fleet.