The Performance Based Standards Scheme continues to go from strength to strength and now the NHVR is looking at the next chapter for PBS. In fact, it’s something Sal Petroccitto, National Heavy Vehicle Regulator CEO, says he and his team are incredibly proud of.
He points out that by the end of last year there were more than 11,500 approved PBS combinations in Australia, and despite the challenges of a global pandemic, industry is as enthusiastic as ever about the potential of these vehicles.
In fact the scheme has been so successful that NHVR expect to reach 12,000 PBS combinations very soon, a number which had initially been projected to be reached by 2030.
Australia is now the clear, international leader in innovative vehicle design with jurisdictions in Europe, the United States and South Africa seeking out the NHVR’s expertise to implement similar schemes to aid their own freight tasks.
But Sal says, we cannot rest on our laurels if we are going to meet the future freight task head on.
That’s why the regulator are delivering a program of improvements to the scheme so that it remains forward-thinking and useful to the industry as technology continues to develop.
NHVR are approaching this through enhancements to the technical aspects, improving the efficiency of the scheme as well as supporting efforts to extend network access to PBS vehicles on freight routes.
NHVR are currently reviewing the PBS Standards beginning with the frontal swing, pavement horizontal loading and braking standards. A key early outcome of the review was an amendment to the frontal swing standard earlier this year, allowing for greater flexibility for PBS vehicle designs.
By increasing the frontal swing performance measures from 0.7m to 0.85m NHVR were able to address industry concerns and reduce the need for PBS vehicles to obtain frontal swing exemptions, especially A-Double and truck and dog combinations.
The current review of the Heavy Vehicle National Law also presents significant opportunities to improve and streamline the scheme.
Key to the review is how the system migrates mature PBS designs and combinations into the prescriptive fleet. This will not only improve the efficiency of our prescriptive fleet, but also creates bandwidth for those within the PBS scheme to focus on the next generation of innovation.
The other question considered by the HVNL review is technology. The time is right to look at how we integrate new technological advances within the PBS standards. All this work leads us towards what we are calling PBS 2.0, the NHVR’s vision for the next generation of PBS that learns from the journey so far and reforms the scheme to support innovation, safety and productivity.
The reviewed HVNL must be fit for purpose to achieve this vision though, and the NHVR has been advocating very strongly for a law which is simplified, streamlined and genuinely delivers on the productivity and safety imperative.
“Right now the law is more than 700 pages long, it’s too complex for us as regulators let alone for smaller operators who want to give a more productive vehicle a go,” says Sal. “As we move towards the next phase of the PBS and the scheme matures we are seeing more and more how it has already fundamentally changed the way we move freight in this country while delivering significant safety and productivity benefits.
“We will continue to advocate for and deliver a scheme which makes these important benefits accessible to more operators and more parts of our industry. I look forward to continuing to work with industry, our supply chain and governments to improve and grow the scheme, for the benefit of all road users and our broader economy.”