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Prime Mover Magazine

PBS uptake is on the rise: special report

Heavy vehicles are increasingly being matched to specific tasks according to a new joint report released by the Australian Road Transport Suppliers Association (ARTSA) and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR).

Unveiled at the Global Heavy Vehicle Leaders Summit in Melbourne today, the report shows that 17 per cent of all new heavy vehicles are now compliant with Performance-Based Standards (PBS).

According to the report there are 7,000 PBS applications approved for use on Australian roads, with clear exponential growth seen since 2011.

Last year, 1,416 trailer combinations were approved for PBS. That number is on track to be eclipsed with 577 additional vehicles already approved for transportation during the first quarter of 2018.

NHVR CEO, Sal Petroccitto, said the scheme, which first began in 2007, showed significant penetration.“The PBS scheme has developed into a world-leading program for which the entire Australian heavy vehicle industry can be very proud,” he said. “It’s led to improved safety outcomes such as 46 per cent fewer crashes than conventional vehicles, per kilometres travelled and major productivity gains, saving more than 320 million truck kilometres on Australian roads between 2014 and 2017.”

The report noted that 60 trailer manufacturers and 22 truck manufacturers have built a PBS approved unit in the past decade.

To date, truck and dog trailers comprised 55 per cent of all PBS approved combinations. The report also confirmed a PBS fleet is younger, with a median age of 3.6 years compared to an average age of a heavy vehicle fleet, which is 12.2 years.

Despite the considerable investment required of the design, manufacture and operation of a PBS vehicle, the data suggests more operators are making the choice because of the benefits.

Les Bruzsa, NHVR Chief Engineer, speaking at the Global Heavy Vehicle Leaders Summit, said one of the key points of interest was the penetration of PBS into different vehicle classes.

“We should be extremely proud as currently Australia is the first and only country which will have a fully comprehensive set of heavy vehicle regulations which will be based on vehicle performance,” he said. “Instead of regulating weights and dimensions of the vehicles we look at how they perform on the road.”

As PBS requires 16 safety standards and four infrastructure standards, Bruzsa said it was crucial that it helped protect the public.

“The key to any regulation is road safety,” he said. “But doing it in a way that provides significant productivity benefits for the industry and for society in general.”

PBS is a good example of regulators setting clear parameters for industry to follow and allowing the industry to do the rest, according to Petroccitto. “There are clear winners all round from this process including safety and environmental benefits for the community and performance benefits for industry.”

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