Trucks, B-Doubles no longer forced to have extra guards

JUST IN: THE trucking industry will save $8.3 million per year as a result of the Australian Government's decision to untangle the red tape around interstate registered B-doubles, the Chief Executive of the Australian Trucking Association, Stuart St Clair, said today.

Until now, federal regulations have required interstate registered B-doubles to be fitted with spray suppression equipment - a series of extra guards, flaps and in some cases bristles around their wheel arches.

The equipment is in addition to the normal wheel guards that must be fitted to truck wheels, and is intended to improve visibility for nearby drivers in wet weather. Experts have found no evidence that the extra equipment works.

Mr St Clair said the decision would bring the rules for interstate registered B-doubles into line with the rules for B-doubles with state number plates.

"Western Australia and the Northern Territory have never required B-doubles to be fitted with spray suppression equipment. The requirement was removed in the other states when the Heavy Vehicle National Law started earlier this year, but until now the federal regulations have still required interstate registered B-doubles to be fitted with the equipment," he said.

"Removing the requirement will save interstate trucking operators about $5,800 on a typical new B-double set and a further $1,640 per set per year in maintenance costs.

"The decision will not affect safety. Extensive independent research, including by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has shown that there is no evidence that fitting extra spray suppression equipment results in visibility improvements for drivers travelling near trucks. It's one of those technologies that works in the laboratory but doesn't appear to translate into the real world.

"The ATA raised this issue with Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss as part of our TruckWeek 2014 parliamentary delegation program.

"I'm very pleased that the Deputy Prime Minister listened so closely to the evidence. The decision will reduce red tape and costs for trucking businesses," Mr St Clair said.

A B-double consists of a prime mover and two trailers linked by fifth wheel turntables. B-doubles will still need to be fitted with wheel guards in accordance with the vehicle standards rules: the decision will only affect the extra spray suppression equipment that has needed to be fitted until now.

The Government decision is effective immediately.


EARLIER: THE Australian Government has removed regulatory red tape for heavy vehicle operators registered under the Federal Interstate Registration Scheme.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss described regulations requiring B-double trucks to be fitted with additional spray suppression devices around their wheel arches as unnecessary and failing to align with laws applying to state registered vehicles.

"In practice, these devices have been found to be ineffectual in reducing tyre spray on wet roads, but impose a significant cost on truck operators who have to fit and maintain them," he said.

"Research indicates the spray suppression devices provide no added safety benefit to other road users, like standard mudguards, that are already installed on all such vehicles."

Mr Truss said the removal of this unnecessary regulatory burden will save the heavy vehicle industry around $8.3 million a year and brings the Federal Interstate Registration Scheme into line with B-doubles operating under the Heavy Vehicle National Law.

"The government has worked closely with the Australian Trucking Association to negotiate the removal of this regulatory burden," Mr Truss said.

"This is a victory for common sense and will remove yet another barrier for the heavy vehicle industry in moving freight across our borders efficiently and productively.

"The new regulatory arrangements are effective immediately."