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In a move to promote road safety and boost freight productivity, the Australian Government has implemented significant changes to the national road vehicle standards through the Safer Freight Vehicles package.

According to the new rules, the width limit for new trucks will increase from 2.50 to 2.55 meters, provided they are equipped with a range of advanced safety features. This initiative is expected to deliver a net economic benefit exceeding $500 million.

The safety features mandated for qualifying trucks include technologies designed to reduce blind spots, electronic stability control, advanced emergency braking, lane departure warning systems, improved reflective markings, and the installation of side guards to prevent pedestrians and cyclists from being trapped under the rear wheels of trucks.

Federal Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Carol Brown, emphasised the importance of these changes.

“This Safer Freight Vehicles package responds to direct calls from industry to increase the width limit of trucks and follows extensive public consultation and feedback,” Ms. Brown said.

Trucks equipped with these safety features are anticipated to significantly reduce fatalities and serious injuries among vehicle occupants, cyclists, and pedestrians. Moreover, the expanded width allowance is poised to decrease the number of road freight trips, resulting in cost savings for businesses and a reduction in environmental impact.

The package also addresses concerns about potential disadvantages to manufacturers and owners by permitting the fitting of safety devices and sensors to trucks without impacting width and length measurements. This includes front and kerb view mirrors, external parts of camera monitor systems, blind spot sensors, and cross-view mirrors.

While the overall width limit for buses and trailers remains unchanged, these vehicles will benefit from additional safety devices that are excluded from width and length measurements. This holistic approach aims to create a safer and more efficient environment for all road users.

“Today’s announcement will mean [truck drivers] can carry out their work more safely and efficiently, so they and those they share the road with can get home safe at the end of each trip,” shared Ms. Brown.

The Safer Freight Vehicles package is scheduled to be implemented from October 1, 2023. Industry stakeholders are encouraged to collaborate with registration authorities to ensure compliance with road access permits.

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