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Vehicle standards reform presents opportunity to transform PBS scheme

A revamped Performance-Based Standards (PBS) scheme that focuses on flexibility and continued innovation should be a central part of reforms to the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) according to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR).

NHVR Manager Vehicle Safety and Performance, Peter Austin, said that a vision for a reformed PBS Scheme – PBS 2.0 – was a central part of the Regulator’s response to the National Transport Commission’s (NTC) HVNL Review issues paper Vehicle Standards and Safety.

“Since assuming responsibility for heavy vehicle standards and the Performance-Based Standards scheme, the NHVR has overseen a reduction in processing times for PBS design approvals by up to three weeks for the vast majority of applications, and a reduction in vehicle standards permit volumes by over 75 per cent,” said Austin.

“But there is still significant room to improve these processes through reform to the HVNL.

“We want to see a focus on ensuring national and local policy settings are able to support the uptake and adoption of safer and more productive vehicles, rather than discourage them.

“PBS vehicles deliver significant safety and productivity benefits and supporting the industry to innovate in this area is a key priority for the NHVR.” 

The NHVR has identified the following areas of reform to deliver PBS 2.0: provide fleet interchangeability through a modular approval approach to PBS making more productive and safer vehicles the priority in access decisions; remove common PBS vehicles or combinations from the PBS scheme and transition into the prescriptive heavy vehicle fleet; increase the potential for innovation; and provide the PBS Review Panel with an increased strategic role.

“We all have a responsibility to ensure the heavy vehicle industry can meet the country’s growing freight demand, which means delivering more goods with fewer vehicles in a safe manner,” said Austin. “The established PBS scheme is the platform that we should learn and leverage from to achieve this goal.”

In May, a joint report found that one on five new heavy vehicles are PBS approved.

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