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Michael Holmes

Year of Award: 2018 Award State: New South Wales Transport And Infrastructure > Road
The NRMA-ACT Road Safety Trust Churchill Fellowship to investigate best practices to improve heavy vehicle safety in urban environments - UK, Sweden, Belgium, Luxembourg, USA

Key Findings:

Effective heavy vehicle safety accreditation schemes exist within the UK based on the safe system approach to road safety. These are supported by a robust regulatory framework requiring minimum standards for road transport operators. 

The heavy vehicle fleet across Northern European countries have a much younger average age and are required to comply with a broader suite of mandatory passive and active vehicle safety standards and technologies. 

Cities such as London and New York have introduced local regulations to improve the safety of heavy vehicles in urban environments through requirements for improved driver field of view and underrun protection. Emissions schemes introduced in such cities further support improvements to road safety outcomes both directly and indirectly. 

Professional driver training and competency standards in the European Union equip drivers with safety critical knowledge and skills to support technical driving skills. Training programmes have been developed to cover the safety of the urban driving task. 

Cities have invested in sustainable methods of urban logistics which provide indirect benefits of improving road safety by optimising deliveries through reducing, retiming or rerouting heavy vehicle movements in urban environments.

The improvements to heavy vehicle safety require leadership and collective commitment from our government agencies, regulatory authorities and industry champions to influence change. 


The following key recommendations are provided from the Fellowship: 

  • Heavy vehicle accreditation schemes should be based on the road safety management system framework removing the focus from meeting minimum compliance requirements;
  • Australian design rules should be amended to require Class VI mirrors for all cab-over engine heavy vehicles and cross-over mirrors for all conventional heavy vehicles >12 t GVM; 
  • State and/or local governments should consider introduction of local access regulations requiring improved visibility to the front and sides of heavy vehicles in urban road environments; 
  • Current definition of ‘fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle’ should include all heavy vehicles above 4.5t in Australia and remove exemptions for ‘local work’ within 100km radius as such ‘local work’ is largely carried out in urban environments; 
  • Side and rear underrun protection should be mandatory for heavy vehicles and trailers, where rear underrun protection strength standards of ADR 91/00 should exceed those in UNECE R 58; 
  • Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) should be mandatory for all heavy vehicles. AEB must include all rigid vehicles due to higher proportion involved in the urban freight task and most prevalent type in metropolitan crashes; 
  • Width exemptions under the Heavy Vehicle (Vehicle Standards) National Regulation should be amended to allow for new safety technology such as radar sensors; 
  • Driver training and competency framework should be expanded to include issues beyond technical aspects of driving to factors which influence safe operation and aspects critical to the safe urban driving task; 
  • Sustainable methods of transport and logistics should be trialled and adopted to reduce the impacts of construction heavy vehicles in urban environments. 

The Fellowship findings and recommendations will be communicated at road safety conferences and disseminated to local agencies. Practical solutions will be considered in consultation with industry partners for trial and implementation. The resulting findings will also form part of submissions to the Heavy Vehicle National Law review to support the primary safety objectives of the legislative framework.

Implementing the recommendations from this Fellowship will certainly contribute to strengthening the multiple protective layers that make up Australia’s Safe System.

Keywords: Heavy vehicle safety, accreditation schemes, driver training, competency, vehicle standards, urban logistics

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