SETUP: a strategic plan for safety and environmental catchup
For as long as I can remember (some twenty odd years now), the adoption of Australian Design Rule (ADR) regulations for heavy vehicle safety and environmental standards closely followed those in Europe and for that matter, the USA and Japan too.
Typically, the Department of Transport in Canberra would roll out new ADRs about three years after European regulations were introduced, the slight delay giving local truck manufacturers and importers time to add the new technology to their Australian model offerings.
Sadly, it seems, the Federal Government has taken its ‘foot off the accelerator’ over the past decade, which has led to our vehicle safety and environmental regulations falling well behind those of Europe, Japan and the US.
How far behind you ask? Here are some key examples: Europe introduced Euro VI in 2013 (the USA 2010 and Japan 2015), our Government is talking 2027; Electronic Stability Control was legally required on European prime movers in 2012 (2016 in Japan and from 2017 in USA).
We have an implementation date of 2022 in Australia; Autonomous Emergency Braking systems were mandated on trucks in Europe from 2013, an Australian regulation is not likely before 2024; while our Government has no current plans for the introduction of Lane Departure Warning systems that was implemented on trucks in Europe from 2013.
The Truck Industry Council (TIC) has lobbied the Federal Government for many years now, calling for a more-timely introduction of these international heavy vehicle regulations.
In the meantime individual TIC members have proactively introduced some, or all, of these features on their new truck models, despite the commercial disadvantage that such advanced safety and environmental systems add weight and cost to a truck, making their product offering less appealing to some truck operators. Truck OEMs have led the way over the last decade, it’s now time for Government policy and regulation to catch up.
These ever-extending timelines have not been lost on the states and territories, who directly witness and have to deal with road vehicle trauma and the health concerns of their constituents each day.
These jurisdictions, along with TIC, voiced our concerns about the lack of action from Canberra for heavy vehicle safety and environmental reform with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR). To his credit, the NHVR’s CEO, Sal Petroccitto, proposed the development of a strategic voluntary plan to address these issues.
Over a couple of years and with assistance from the states and territories, along with sizable input from TIC, the strategy evolved into a plan. SETUP was born.
SETUP is an acronym for vehicle Safety and Environmental Technology – Uptake Plan. The plan has been developed to improve the minimum level of safety and environmental performance of new trucks, while also removing unique Australian regulatory barriers such as 2.5m truck width and 6.5t steer axle limits.
To take part in SETUP, an operator will need to run a truck with the following minimum specifications, Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning, Autonomous Emergency Brakes, Lane Departure Warning, Electronic Stability Control and an Euro VI, or equivalent, compliant engine. Such trucks will gain the following benefits; an additional axle mass of 500kg per truck and; an operational width of 2.55m.
This new plan is not dissimilar in concept to the agreement brokered by TIC with the states and territories in 2006, whereby operators gained an additional 500kg steer axle mass increase for trucks fitted with a Front Under-run Protection System, Cabin Strength and Euro IV, or equivalent, emission engines.
As with the 2006 arrangement, SETUP is a voluntary scheme, with operators having the choice to use their existing equipment, or buy a new truck, without these additional features and run to the existing mass and dimensional regulations, or purchase a new SETUP truck and take advantage of the plan’s benefits.
SETUP will advance the voluntary take up of the latest global safety and environmental technologies for heavy vehicles here in Australia, closing the gap that has widened over the past decade.
TIC and its members, are proud to have been part of this process.
Additionally, this plan could be used as a blueprint for further, future, collaboration between industry and government to develop voluntary schemes to provide enhanced safety and environmental outcomes for all Australians, while providing productivity benefits, as well as, greater vehicle choice for truck operators.
For further information about SETUP, please contact the NHVR: www.nhvr.gov.au
CEO, Truck Industry Council