2021 NatRoad Conference

Landmark Crash Report Makes Case for PBS Reform

A landmark review of major crashes involving High Productivity Vehicles (HPVs) makes an emphatic case for streamlining standards for the new breed of heavy vehicles, the National Road Transport Association says.

The report, Major Crash Rates for Australian Higher Productivity Vehicles: 2015-2019, prepared for the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), shows a 60 percent improvement in overall safety outcomes for HPVs meeting Australian Performance Based Standards (PBS), compared to conventional truck fleets.

PBS articulated combinations had the lowest rate of crashes per distance travelled with 5.4 crashes per 100 million kilometres travelled, almost 70 percent lower than the rate for their conventional counterparts.

“Applying these figures to forecasting over a 20-year period, the report said there could be a saving of 143 lives on Australian roads,” said NatRoad CEO Warren Clark.

“That makes a solid case for regulators doing everything they can to get more PBS vehicles available.”

Mr Clark said the NHVR should be commended for commissioning the HPV crash rates report but it should be a catalyst for change.

“The current PBS scheme suffers from a lack of timeliness, high cost and low transparency,” Mr Clark said.

“It can take PBS vehicle operators at least seven weeks to get a permit – that’s clearly an impediment to safer roads and increased productivity.”

Mr Clark said the NHVR has a “pre-advice“ process in place designed to pre-qualify 90 percent of PBS design applications for approval, but the process is clunky and complex.

“It does not provide the level of certainty operators need,” Mr Clark said.

“We’d like to see new vehicles transition from the PBS scheme to prescriptive standards. This would get rid of a lot of red tape.”

Mr Clark said PBS networks need to be integrated with the NHVR Journey Planner and Access Portal and PBS vehicles be given as-of-right access without needing to obtain permits.