The ATA has issued a statement criticising Austroads for limiting its research project into heavy vehicle dimensions to a 2.55metre rule and ignoring the findings of an expert panel inquiry into national freight and supply chain priorities.

ATA chair Geoff Crouch said that ignoring the International 2.6 metre would result in less efficiency particularly in refrigerated trucks in Australia’s often high ambient temperatures. 

“Last year the expert panel inquiry into national freight and supply chain priorities recommended better supply chain integration, including common standards such as the width of refrigerated truck trailers, that should align with major international partners,” Mr Crouch said.

“However, current research work underway by government research body Austroads is exploring moving to an overall permissible width of 2.55 metres, ignoring the international benchmark of 2.6 metres, especially for refrigerated truck trailers.

“The ATA welcomes the Austroads project’s stated commitment to international harmonisation and exploring greater width, but productivity benefits and supply chain integration do not happen because you write it in a project brief. You’ve actually got to get the policy settings right.

“An increase in allowable width to 2.6 metres would enable refrigerated trucks to utilise thicker insulated walls without loss of payload. In 38 degrees outside temperatures, these thicker walls would reduce heat gain by 36 per cent and deliver a fuel saving of 2,500 litres per typical refrigerated vehicle per year.

“Austroads reference the expert panel finding on the need for international harmonisation on the width of refrigerated truck trailers in their own project brief, but have then proceeded to rule it out of scope.

“They claimed the benefits of harmonising for refrigerated trailers to justify the project, and then refuse to look at what is actually needed to achieve those benefits.”

Mr Crouch said that the limited scope of the Austroads project would limit the findings.