Office of Future Transport Technologies should remove safety and productivity road blocks

Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia (HVIA) welcomes the Australian Government’s proposed Office of Future Transport Technologies.

HVIA’s Chief Executive Todd Hacking says government investment in anticipating and enabling technologies that improve safety and productivity is crucial to managing Australia’s growing freight task.

HVIA’s comments are in response to an announcement made by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack at a Roads Australia event yesterday.

Mr McCormack says the Office of Future Transport Technologies will help prepare for the pending arrival of automated vehicles and other transport innovations.

“The Australian heavy vehicle industry has a culture of innovation highlighted by our high-productivity combinations and the Performance Based Standards scheme,” Mr Hacking said.

“We hope that an independent government office will consider all blockages to enabling the uptake of the safest and most productive possible vehicles, and ensuring they are given appropriate access to every city and every town.”

HVIA says that whilst there needs to be investment in developing the right policy settings, and ensuring infrastructure is in place to implement future transport technologies, more needs to be done to see the uptake of technologies that are available right now.

“The highest priority is to incentivise a reduction in the heavy vehicle fleet age and the uptake of safety technologies for heavy vehicles.”

“Australia has one of the oldest truck fleets in the western world at over 14 years; in fact, 16% of the fleet (some 73,000 vehicles) are aged between 15 and 22 years old.

“We know these vehicles are less safe than their modern counterparts and we know when a new safety feature is mandated by the Australian Design Rules (ADRs) it takes over 20 years to be universal in the heavy vehicle fleet.”

HVIA applauded State and Territory Ministers for declaring their intent to increase the deployment of Autonomous Emergency Braking in both heavy and light vehicles at the Transport and Infrastructure Council (TIC) meeting in May.

“Recent analysis by Monash University Accident Research Centre suggests this technology could save 67 lives per annum,” Mr Hacking added.

HVIA is also concerned over the number of older vehicles in the Performance Based Standards (PBS) fleet. HVIA has been advocating for minimum braking requirements for the PBS scheme to be linked to that of the current ADR braking requirements. Heavy Vehicle operators should invest in these safety features if they know they will be getting a productivity gain.

“In too many cases PBS is failing to promote the uptake of new vehicles with the latest safety features which was one of the objectives of the scheme when it was first established,” Mr Hacking said.

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