Industry News

The Future of Vehicle Standards

Will 2024 be a good year for road transport, and will it be a good year for the future of vehicle standards? This is the question Bob Woodward is asking.

When Governments (Federal and State) change, there is a new minister, who believes that they are in charge, but the reality is, the department deadwood tell the same stories to the new minister and nothing changes, writes Bob. The minister should not need to know the nitty gritty, and its repeated at Local Government level. Programs are not completed on time and/or on budget but how can change be implemented and effective?

Vehicle Standards

Australian Design Rules were released in 1989 and by mid-1990 shortcomings were identified including ADRs 62 and 63, drawbar design strength calculations and road train coupling position height. It then took eight years for the inclusion in ADR 62/01 (July 1998) of clause for design. However, it then took another 25 years (not until 2023) for the determination of the ‘Approved’ calculation procedures.

It’s now more than 30 years on and operators require an exemption from ADR 63/00 Clause to build a better performing combination. There was a review of this ADR in 2012 including coupling height, but it’s ten plus years later, and there’s still no update to the ADR. This history makes breeding elephants a speed of light event.

Vehicle standards issues continue, when the NHVR concept was first raised, there was much hope about national standards with common rules, but it was just another dream. The signatory states are supposedly adopting the same standard for inspections, but recent experience suggests otherwise. National inspectors training should be to a standard, but it seems that inspectors trained and authorised by the State jurisdictions operate differently.

A roadworthy inspector, approved by VicRoads, has scope to apply additional conditions, so what is technically a repair can then be required to have a certificate for an engineering modification. I recall a state inspector being very proud of his statement, at a past ATA TMC, to make it as difficult as possible for the operator.

Those who develop and progress such systems have little experience in the real world, like the engineer who quoted Ackermann principle on the axles of the dolly of a dog trailer. Wrong! There is no Ackermann to apply!

An approved AVE who couldn’t identify original equipment on a trailer, didn’t have a clue as to the relevance of the SARN on the compliance plate, an example of referencing an engineering degree in an irrelevant discipline as a qualification, such issues must be addressed.

Access continues as an issue for many operators. 30 metre PBS A-doubles have had adequate exposure and putting a new combination on the road should be a simple, tick the box process. Recently an operator complained about getting a new A-double into service. The vehicle was completed, then registration and PBS certification was required before applying for the access permit, two months later the vehicle started earning.

In PowerTorque May/June 2023 an approach was promoted to simplify access. I wonder who in regulation read and absorbed that suggestion?

The real problem is the rule makers/promoters seldom understand the impacts. PBS hasn’t delivered it’s potential, the migration from PBS to prescriptive hasn’t happened. There must be published networks, as was proposed within two years of PBS, for all levels. Local government area access is a significant hurdle so let’s develop the plan for fixing it.

2024 is another year, there will be many New Year resolutions, hopefully these will be positive for change? Or will the B-double be replaced with B-triple just to carry the documentation?


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