Caught in the act!

Truck Industry Council (TIC) members, the truck and engine manufacturers, each spend hundreds of millions of dollars, to develop, test and certify new truck diesel engines, with the end result being the cleanest, most powerful and fuel efficient products that have ever been seen in the trucking industry.

New trucks that are ADR80/03, Euro V and equivalent – Australia’s current emission standard – are 60 times cleaner than trucks built before 1996. But the story gets even better.

The proposed ADR80/04 regulations will require new trucks from about 2025, in Australia, to meet Euro 6, or equivalent, emission levels.

These engines are 120 times cleaner than the engines in pre-1996 trucks.

While our government continues to dither about the introduction timing of these new emission requirements, TIC members have taken a proactive health and environmental stance, with more that 20 per cent of new trucks sold in Australia last year, meeting the yet to be introduced, cleaner, ADR80/04 standards.

However, the news is not all good, a sinister problem exists, that of illegal tampering with truck safety and emission systems, rendering these clean and safe technologies inactive in many trucks.

The NHVR estimates that up to one in ten heavy vehicles may have their engine emission and/or road speed limiting systems illegally tampered with, putting the health and safety of millions of Australians at risk.

When discussing increased diesel emissions due to tampering, we are talking about two main substances.

Oxides of nitrogen (NOx) are poisonous gases that are extremely harmful to both human health and the environment (acid rain).

When an emission system is tampered with, it is typically these nasty, invisible to the eye, NOx compounds that increase and not by a small amount — their presence skyrockets!

The other is particulate matter (PM), small carbon-based particles, most often seen as black smoke, though they too can be small (PM 2.5) and almost undetectable to the eye.

PM is a known carcinogen, causing increased cancer rates and respiratory diseases in humans.

Modern emission technologies keep these elements in check, however in a tampered engine, these toxins are released at uncontrolled rates.

National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) Executive Director of Statutory Compliance, Ray Hassall, recently said, emissions tampering caused significant health and environmental risks and that speed limiter tampering was a serious safety offence.

“We’re currently undertaking an education campaign to highlight the harmful effects engine remapping can have on heavy vehicle drivers and logistics workers, as well as communities and the environment,” Hassall said.

“We know that truck drivers, who are constantly exposed to high levels of diesel emissions, suffer higher rates of diesel-related illnesses, including cancer, heart disease and asthma.”

He adds, “By ensuring all engines are compliant with current regulations, the transport industry can better protect the health and safety of truck drivers, the supply chain, and the general community.”

In fact, recent joint NHVR, South Australian and Queensland police service operations have led to the successful prosecution of a number of persons who illegally modified truck emission and safety systems. Leading to thousands of dollars in fines and corrective actions to restore truck emission and safety systems to compliant order.

Cummins Director and General Manager, Mike Fowler, recently commented, “You would think in this day and age, the fact that emissions system tampering is against the law would be enough to deter operators in engaging in such activity.

As a life-long industry participant, I am really proud of how the industry has improved its image and takes it responsibilities’ seriously in regard to safety and compliance. However, there do seem to be a few out there that are prepared to pick and choose which laws they abide by and which ones they don’t.”

If the potential prosecution and fines, or the risk of premature engine failures, or warranty implications, does not deter people from tampering with emissions then maybe, just maybe, the impact to the nation’s health might.

TIC applauds the work and cooperation shown by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, as well as the State and Territory agencies in detecting and bringing to justice those individuals and organisations who choose to illegally modify heavy vehicles.

TIC believes these recent actions send a clear message to those wishing to illegally tamper with trucks safety and emission systems.

The NHVRs multi-media campaign includes, magazine, billboard and YouTube advertisements designed to educate truck operators to the consequences of illegal truck modifications.

More details can be found here: https://www.nhvr.gov.au/engineremapping

Tony McMullan
CEO, Truck Industry Council

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