Disincentives for life-saving stability control for heavy vehicles

In the news in the last week has been the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) response to the Infrastructure Department’s regulatory impact statement (RIS) on mandating stability control for heavy vehicles.

ATN quotes the ATA’s submission, saying that mandating electronic stability control (ESC) on heavy trucks would be a life-saver, projecting the potential to save 148 lives and stop 1,496 serious injuries in the coming years.

HVIA’s submission goes further to highlight the disincentives for trucking operators to update their fleet to include vehicles with improved safety technology.

HVIA’s National Policy & Government Relations Manager Greg Forbes says that if Government is focused on improving uptake rates of new vehicles through other regulation changes and incentives, the net benefits will be further improved and occur much sooner.

“There are a significant number of ways that Government can also influence fleet purchases ranging from changing taxation policy, to removing constraints on access for vehicles fitted with the latest technology,” Mr Forbes said.

“To accelerate the take up rate of new safety technologies it is important that operators are encouraged to buy new vehicles.

“Current statistics suggest, however, that the rate of purchase of new vehicles is slowing, resulting in an aging of the fleet.

“Indirectly, the current regulatory environment has created strong disincentives for operators to purchase a new vehicle based on available load capacity.

“Even though there may be fuel savings, additional safety and productivity features available to the operator, purchasing a new vehicle is not an attractive proposition to a significant number of operators.

“Updates to vehicle technology has resulted in increases in heavy vehicle tare mass over the last 20 years when considering identically specified vehicles.

“The increase in tare mass would lead to lower productivity due to reduced load carrying capacity.”

HVIA have highlighted an independent study the ATA included in a submission to the Business Tax Working Group in 2012, critical of the Australian Taxation Office’s decision to increase the effective life of trucks and trailers from 5 years to 15 in 2005.

“HVIA supports the view that current tax policy is a factor in operators choosing to defer the purchasing of new trucks,” Mr Forbes added.

“Addressing the deteriorating average age of the heavy vehicles has to be a matter of priority.

“Unless government address some of these current indirect factors – mandating the new braking standards will not see the majority of heavy vehicles with ABS, ESC and/or RSC until after the 2030 to 2035 time frame.

“Even a small reduction of average age will see an improvement in ABS penetration, as many OEM’s began fitting ABS as standard equipment from around 2008 on.”

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