Industry News

Change in the Width Restrictions for Trucks and Trailers

It’s come and gone many times in the last few decades, but judging by the current environment, it does look like a change in the width restrictions for trucks and trailers is in the wings.

This has always been a contentious topic over which different interested parties have argued many times, over the years, and which is a difficult decision for the governments in Australia to make without repercussions.

However, reading the tea leaves from the indications which seem to be appearing on a regular basis around the country, it seems that some kind of initiative to increase the width of trucks and trailers may well be in the pipeline.

The first indication of any movement was actually in the statement issued by the Minister for Transport, Catherine King when announcing the dates for the introduction of ADR 80/04. In that press release some consideration to increase truck and trailer width to 2.55 metres was mentioned.

We know that these discussions had been going on for a long time in the back rooms of governments, regulators and truck and trailer manufacturers, but this was the first official admission that this change in regulations was under serious consideration.

Another clear indication that thinking on the subject was moving ahead was the revealing of the DAF XG+ at the Brisbane Truck Show. There was a lot of excitement around the fact that it was fitted with a Cummins X 15 D engine and an Eaton Endurant XD AMT, but many observers would also have realised that the truck is actually wider than our current 2.5 metre width limitation.

Another clue may have come from the fact that Schmitz Cargobull, the European trailer making giant had taken a financial position in Australia’s largest trailer manufacturer, MaxiTrans. Virtually all product created by Schmitz in its factories in Europe will be 2.55 metres wide and a lot of the componentry will also suit that width. In the past, squeezing a Schmitz trailer down to 2.5 metres in width has not only been difficult but increased the price considerably.

So here we have a dilemma. On one side, if the truck and trailer width is extended to 2.55 meters, then a lot of pretty good technology, is going to be able to come into Australia to aid the drive for higher productivity and lower carbon emissions in the road transport industry. 

On the other hand, Australia does have a vibrant trailer manufacturing base which has served the industry extremely well and produces some of the best and most productive trailers in the world.

Any proposed change would open up our market to a lot more imported brands. This may have a knock on effect of driving down trailer prices to the point where our locally based manufacturers may not be able to compete.

It is very difficult to weigh up the many options in this debate. However we all have a chance to have our voices heard, as the NHVR announced earlier this year that the release of a Safer Freight Vehicle discussion paper was looking for submissions and comments about any proposed changes to vehicle width regulation. 

The deadline for written submissions is coming up on Friday June the 30th. That’s the date before which we need to make our opinions heard, so that any resulting regulation change actually suits the people who are involved in our industry.


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