This Website is for Sale
Chief Scientist highlights PBS scheme success
Changes to national regulation and the introduction of the PBS scheme are examples for all industries to follow, Finkel says
Australia’s chief scientist has lauded the trucking industry’s attitude to regulation as a trendsetter in a speech at the Tertiary Education and Standards Agency’s (TEQSA) inaugural Sharing Excellence: Assuring Quality conference in Melbourne.
While the speech titled Red Tape or Gift Wrap: Regulation for exceptional tertiary institutions relates to the future of tertiary education in a changing environment, Alan Finkel says the trucking industry is an example of a regulatory system that rewards the pursuit of excellence.
In news that will be familiar to those in the industry itself, the scientist says the dilemma for trucking and freight movement in Australia is the conflict between the public’s desire for cheap freight and a general dislike of trucks, particularly big trucks.
"So there’s a balance to be struck," Finkel says on conflict.
"Twenty years ago, every jurisdiction would strike a different balance. Roads would cross borders – but the rules wouldn’t.
"Now we are reaping the benefits of the push to a national approach."
This national approach, he says, is underpinned by the use of the Performance Based Standards (PBS) scheme.
"With care, we have liberalised the length, mass and configuration limits to make way for giant B-triple combinations and BAB-quad road trains," he says.
"And bigger trucks means fewer trucks, and cheaper freight."
To entice the use of bigger trucks, utilising a carrot and stick approach, Finkel says it has been a trade-off, "You can have a bigger truck – if you accept a higher safety threshold."
"The higher safety thresholds are achieved by requiring that new trucks meet performance based standards, as opposed to prescriptive rules," he says.
"In trucking, as in all industries, prescriptive regulations become outdated when technology advances and people find a better way of achieving the same end.
"The end result has been good for the public and good for commerce, with safer trucks that are more cost effective to operate.
"Further, because compliant trailers are not available from international suppliers Australia has maintained an innovative local manufacturing industry worth two and a half billion dollars per annum."
And it appears to be working, if the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s figures are correct, with the industry body announcing an 80 per cent increase in PBS uptake over previous year in October.
Just in the July-to-September quarter, a record 450 new combinations were approved under the scheme, mostly truck and dog combinations.
Duncan Gay should be stripped of responsibility for road safety
Apart from the pain, grief and suffering, road trauma costs NSW about $8 billion per annum. According to Transport for NSW, speed-related fatalities comprise 42 per cent of the deaths on our roads.
The shocking news uncovered by the Herald last week that up to 16 people have been killed in underused point-to-point speed camera zones since the cameras were installed, demands road safety be stripped from Roads Minister Duncan Gay's portfolio.
Road safety is the natural enemy of mobility. That the minister for mobility (roads) is one and the same minister for road safety is as absurd as the minister for mining being the minister for the environment.
The NSW government should let Gay do what he's good at: building roads. We should emulate the successful Victorian system by moving road safety to a separate ministry where there's an economic imperative to reduce road trauma.
More than 335 people have died on our roads this year and the NSW road toll is up more than 17 per cent on the three-year average. The irony of this tragedy is that people in the bush, Gay's constituency, are three times more likely to be killed in a crash than people in the city.
Gay's mismanagement of his road safety portfolio is not only costing many lives and limbs, it's costing NSW a fortune. His behaviour in selecting which speeding drivers should be booked and which should not is discriminatory.
In February 2011, the Pedestrian Council of Australia lodged a freedom-of-information request, which revealed that during six months in two point-to-point speed camera zones, 117 heavy vehicle drivers had been warned for speeding but more than 94,000 other motorists had also been detected speeding and weren't even warned.
In May 2011, Gay signed the National Road Safety Strategy along with all other roads ministers. The strategy sang the praises of point-to-point enforcement. Gay also agreed as part of the strategy to "improve compliance with speed limits across the road network ... install where appropriate point-to-point cameras to improve speed compliance among all vehicles".
The road toll is "going through the roof", says the Pedestrian Council's Harold Scruby. Photo: Kirk Gilmo
In NSW, point-to-point cameras are only placed in black spots. In the other jurisdictions they operate in – Victoria, Queensland, SA and ACT – they issue fines, not warnings, to all vehicles.
In January 2013, we commissioned a second FOI request when there were 25 zones in operation. Again, a handful of trucks had been warned. But not one other motorist was detected. Gay had switched off the data capture. A convenient case of wilful blindness.
During this time Gay was forging an alliance with the NRMA and its then president, former National Party state minister Wendy Machin?. Generally, the Nats have a strong libertarian culture and they despise modern speed camera technology. When booked, the robotic excuse of these Libertarian Luddites is to chant: "Nanny state ... revenue raising".
Gay and Machin capitalised on this feeling and developed a very clever distraction: "High-visibility policing." They have demonised speed cameras. Gay once claimed they were cash cows and he'd sent a dozen to the naughty corner.
On average, police officers can book one vehicle every half an hour. When they speed to catch lawbreaking motorists, they risk their lives and those of other road users. And it's very expensive, costing at least $200 per ticket.
Speed cameras catch every speeding driver for threepence and don't compromise safety.
For the past four years, at least nine fixed cameras have been in so-called "warning mode" where vehicles detected speeding at up to 30km/h over the limit are sent three warnings before being issued with a penalty. The farce is that these warnings go to the owners of the motor vehicles and there's no requirement to state who was driving. It's totally ineffective and a huge waste of public money.
Current NRMA president Kyle Loades? continues to procrastinate and obfuscate. "When it comes to road safety, our view is that changes to the system need to be based on evidence," he said.
However, practically every reputable road safety organisation has begged the government to turn on the point-to-point cameras for all vehicles, including STAYSAFE, the Australasian College of Surgeons, the Australasian College of Road Safety, the Australian Trucking Association and the Auditor-General. And international studies agree: they show point-to-point camera reduce fatalities by 50-85 per cent.
Cameron Dunn elected VTA President
The Executive Council of the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) elected Cameron Dunn as President of the peak industry association at its Annual General Meeting in Melbourne yesterday.
Dunn is a 30-year veteran of the Australian transport industry, and is well-known within VTA and industry ranks, having been an active member of the association’s Executive Council for over 10 years, and Vice President for the past four years.
He succeeds Brendan Hopley in the role, who served as VTA President for four years, and will remain on the association’s Executive Council.
“Cameron Dunn has been an active and valued member of the VTA for many years and on behalf of the Executive Council, Secretariat and membership, we congratulate him on his election as President of our association,” said VTA CEO, Peter Anderson.
“Cameron has a unique familiarity with the numerous issues facing our industry on a state and national level, and with his experience and contacts he will play a vital role in advancing our strategic efforts to influence positive legislative, regulatory and practical change.
“We are thrilled that outgoing President Brendan Hopley will remain a member of the Executive Council, and we sincerely thank him for the generous time, effort and dedication he applied to his four years as President.
“Brendan has successfully overseen a period of positive and significant change and transition at the VTA, and I look forward to his ongoing counsel and friendship,” Anderson said.
Cameron Dunn is Managing Director of the privately-owned national bulk and dangerous goods transport company FBT Transport, a role he has held since 2009. Prior to this, he held senior transport and logistic roles since joining the industry in 1986 at United Tankers.
In addition to his VTA responsibilities, Dunn is Deputy Chairman of the National Bulk Tanker Association (NBTA), and is on the boards of the Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association (PACIA) and the Australian Road Transport Industry Vic (ARTIO).
“It is a great honour to have been elected President of one of the oldest and most influential transport associations in Australia, and I thank my fellow councillors for entrusting me with this significant responsibility,” Dunn said.
“I look forward to working closely with the Council, Peter Anderson and the Secretariat to positively advocate on issues impacting our industry, and help to make our members more productive, profitable and successful.”
Sydney Truck and Dog Concern
NSW RMS targeting trucks involved in the Sydney construction boom
A higher risk trucking sector currently worrying NSW authorities is construction truck and dogs in the Sydney metropolitan area.
This concern has been expressed by Brett Patterson, statewide operations manager with NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS).
Patterson was a keynote speaker at this year’s Technical and Maintenance Conference in Melbourne, organised by the Australian Trucking Association and Australian Road Transport Suppliers Association.
Sydney is in the grip of a construction boom worth many tens of billions of dollars, and Patterson rattled off some of the major projects involved.
"NorthConnex (road); WestConnex (road), Sydney Metro (rail), we’re running trams down the middle of George Street (in the CBD); another harbour tunnel crossing; through to the numerous buildings going up in the Sydney city, Parramatta, apartment blocks and residential areas," he told the TMC.
"So we’re seeing a lot more construction going on, so we’re seeing a lot more truck and dogs tipper type vehicles running around, certainly in the Sydney metropolitan area."
Owner//Driver has heard before of clunkers coming down from Queensland to get involved in the Sydney construction transport boom. Patterson referred to another source of vehicles which are a maintenance challenge: lots of line-haul prime movers which are coming off the highways.
"So they have done a million miles-plus and then (operators) put on a tipper body," he says.
By the way these retired highway rigs have always been easy to spot because unlike most new tipper prime movers on urban work, the former long distance trucks have sleeper cabs.
Of the Sydney truck and dog sector overall Patterson says: "To look at these vehicles we have run some targeted compliance campaigns with the NSW Police."
He says over the course of 22 operations, more than one third had non-compliant speed limiters; 6 per cent received a mass breach; 4 per cent had a major defect; and one quarter were issued with some type of offence.
"So looking at the truck and dog sector, there’s a high rate of non-compliance," Patterson says.
"So we’ll work with them to undertake some culture change and education."
NSW model for national compliance database
National trucking regulator is working on a system that will lead to targeted enforcement of operators with dodgy maintenance
The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator is looking to NSW for inspiration as it develops a national maintenance compliance database.
The comments came at the recent Technical and Maintenance Conference in Melbourne.
One of the keynote speakers at the TMC was Brett Patterson, statewide operations manager with NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS).
Patterson says RMS uses collected information to target specific operators and sectors.
He says on any day there are more than 460,000 heavy vehicles operating on NSW roads, and more than 60 per cent of interstate heavy vehicle traffic passes through the state.
NSW has by far the biggest investment of any state in heavy vehicle checking stations, checking technology and staff. For example there are eight safety stations on arterial roads, including the Hume, Pacific and Great Western Highways.
"We are able to do some data mining, look at some specific operators, look at some specific sectors, and undertake an operator profile," Patterson says.
He says these "operator of interest" profiles lead to the targeting of "higher risk" operators who record penalty notices higher than the state average during intercepts.
Many operators and drivers may not be aware of this, but at several safety stations in NSW there is "risk-based" screening lane technology on the approaches.
"We do a number of checks in a heartbeat and then it’s a guidance sign which makes a decision about whether the vehicle goes in or out" (to the main weighbridge area), Patterson says.
Those checks include camera scans of registration plates which can pick up previous misdemeanours and Safe-T-Cam data en route; "weigh-in-motion" technology; and height sensors.
"So we screen over 3.2 million vehicles a year just at four checking stations, and that’s how we are able to grab some of that data in the risk-based screening. Where there’s a possible non-compliance, it (the truck) will get sent in (to the weighbridge).
"For those good complying operators who are doing the right thing, along with your merry way."
On top of these millions of automated screenings in NSW came more than 540,000 physical heavy vehicle inspections in 2015-2016.
These comprised: 226,000 inspections at the 8 safety stations; 120,000 during targeted blitzes with other agencies such as the police and EPA; 100,000 random inspections on the side of the road; and 93,000 annual rego checks for larger vehicles.
From the 540,000 overall inspections, 117,000 notices were issued. That makes for an overall notice to vehicle intercept rate of 22 per cent.
Specific notice to intercept rates came in at 11 per cent for B-doubles; 20 per cent for semi-trailers; 20 per cent for rigids with trailers (e.g truck and dogs); 33 per cent for rigids; and a whopping 52 per cent for "plant".
Brakes accounted for a quarter of the key defects identified.
Part of the overall inspections regime was "Operation State Trans" in May. Total defects issued ran at 13 per cent, with the good news being that of those, "major defects" trended down to 11 per cent.
The NHVR’s Tony Martin (above) spoke of the project underway within the national regulator to develop a "national compliance information system" along the lines of NSW.
"It’s essentially going to drag the compliance and enforcement information from every jurisdiction," Martin told the TMC delegates.
"We’re going to pool all that information together and then we going to use it to pretty much do what Patto (Patterson) is able to do in NSW, do that on a national scale, so we’ll be able to understand and clearly see where the highest risk areas lie.
"We’ll be able to deploy our resources in a much more strategic way, and those compliant operators, we’ll let you get on with business."
The TMC is organised by the Australian Trucking Association and Australian Road Transport Suppliers Association.
Fatal two-truck accident on South Australia's Eyre Highway
A driver has died in an accident involving two trucks on the Eyre Highway, west of Ceduna.
SA Police said the 43-year-old Sheidow Park man died at the scene.
Two people were taken to hospital and are being treated in the Royal Adelaide Hospital for non-life threatening injuries.
Police said the truck accident occurred at Yalata just after 6:00am and one of the vehicles had caught fire.
Major Crash investigators will investigate the accident.
Police are advising motorists to avoid the area.
Opinion: To those who say 'leave it to us'
There are many offers to help but those making them must have a strong understanding of what’s at stake
How far can automation and IT go without running us physically and metaphorically off a cliff is the question of the company owners and managers age.
It seems everyone is promising to take heavy decision-making lifting off their hands.
The pitch from truck makers and IT providers is starting to gather pace and is worth looking into at another time, but some of these offers come from traditional sources. Government is one. Always has been.
That is the stuff elections are based on. Allow us to govern you – we will do a good job of it and you will be better off for it.
Trust is the matter for judgement in these things. And if the political classes are to be judged on how they handle the trust issue itself, we all can wonder at their ability properly conduct all that goes into directing a fearsomely complex social, physical and business enterprise.
It is often said that if you can’t measure it, you can’t govern it. By the same token, if you only measure part of something and use the findings to try to change all of it, logic dictates the outcome will be other than what was expected.
This spectre haunts much debate on issues and efforts at planning in the transport and logistics realm.
Rational beings that they are, those involved refuse to believe in ghosts and poltergeists. But when it all goes pear-shaped, such as with the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, they find the outcome inexplicable.
Those who decided on creating it were addressing an issue relating to only a part of a part of the industry – the longhaul owner-driver hire and reward portion – but thought it was the whole game.
They couldn’t see and the federal bureaucracy has lost sight of the ancillary truck-owning sector, where most truck ownership resides.
Apparently the cost of measuring that majority sector properly can’t be countenanced, yet the waste involved in setting up, running and dispensing with the RSRT would cover the cost with change left over.
Now the drum is beating for ‘operator licensing’. On a superficial level, it has its attractions. Getting into the trucking industry is easy, staying afloat isn’t and potentially has risks to others. So, why not raise the bar to entry to at least ensure those entering have the financial and business skills.
So far, so ignorant of the practicalities. This would be a government program to set up and maintain.
The cost would be borne by the industry with little control of or responsibility to coming the other way.
The already busy National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) is a fan, so an argument will exist for a level playing field between the states and an avoidance of duplication.
It will need to create a compliance framework. The question then is how this will be run. Unless it grows like Topsy, the states will have to do the bull work. No duplication savings there.
Is this really the right way to go? More government and regulation in an already heavily littered landscape?
Another option might be for industry representative bodies to do it, not unlike happens in the legal and medical professions. But that entails resources they don’t have at present and ignores a salient fact about bureaucracies – business ones can be just and slow and inflexible as government ones.
Still, it is a good debate to have but thrashing out the ‘how’ and especially the ‘why’ must be extremely thorough to ensure the outcome is worth the impact.
Issues Facing Many in the Trucking Industry
Looking at a small fleet, we get a microcosm of the issues facing many in the trucking industry today. Paterson Bulk Transport, based in Tailem Bend in South Australia is one such operation who have talked to Diesel about how they are travelling.
The Paterson family actually own the Cooke Plains Gypsum mine where the product the tippers transport is extracted. However, the tippers don’t just haul gypsum. They can also be found following seasonal work around, carting grain and grapes at various times. There are also regular general freight or bulk runs from Adelaide to Darwin, Melbourne and to Tasmania.
The company runs twelve trucks, and all of them are expected to handle a bit of every kind of freight depending on the time of year and work load. As a result the company runs over 50 trailers. Like many rural operators the cyclical nature of a lot of the work means the equipment needed is multiplied to keep wheels turning. The fleet is evenly divided with six Macks and six Kenworths on the road.
Grain season tends to be through November and December in this area. After that, the farming industry turns to preparing the land and the gypsum work picks up and keeps the fleet busy. By the time it gets around to March, the grape harvest sees the flattops concentrating in the wine growing areas. Patersons have side tipping bins which are designed to flip over the gantries at the wineries.
The trucks in the PBT fleet run all over Australia. Two of the trucks stick to curtainsider work between Adelaide and Melbourne, handling general freight. Some of the freight is Patersons’ own while other work is as a subcontractor.
“We don’t muck around with tankers and we don’t muck around with stock but we do everything else,” said Sam Paterson, third generation truckie and son of the current owner. “We’ve managed to get our own work everywhere, in our local area, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney.
“We always have our own work going out to places, but I never have any trouble getting a return load. I am a big believer in not trying to cut in on other people’s work, interstate. If you can work with them, you are better off working with them and getting a load home, than trying to create too much of your own work interstate and getting cut out all together.
“I work a lot with other family businesses. If they’re down our way, I’ll load them back and then, if I’m up their way, I’ll get them to load our trucks back. It’s a network of similar businesses to ours. It’s quite rewarding, the networking side of it, the different people you meet.”
Patersons have 10 employees in the team, plus Sam and his parents. B-doubles handle most of the work, but the Darwin run is done by road trains. Sam’s father, Preston, can be found handling the Adelaide Darwin run most of the time. Meanwhile, Sam stays close to home, when he can, and keeps an eye the business and the fleet.
“We do a lot of general freight up to Darwin, either as a double or a triple, then we have to do a dog run up to Port Augusta,”said Sam. “We also run machinery up there, oversize loads and stuff like that. we’ve got extendable trailers, two drop decks and two flattops. We’re probably top heavy on equipment, but it means we are ready to go anytime.
“I just do a little bit of everything now. I organise all of the trucks and then, when we are busy, I jump in one myself.”
Autoequip releases truck breakout box
The diagnostic tool has five functions for the heavy-duty commercial vehicle market
Equipment supplier Autoequip Australia has unveiled a new heavy-duty truck CAN tester breakout box, the VH308T.
The new offering, which acts as an auto diagnostic jumper box and protocol detector for heavy commercial vehicles, can be used for diagnosing electrical faults and Controller Area Network (CAN) bus line activity.
With five key functions, the VH308T is also capable of checking power and ground circuits, testing protocol lines, and act as a multimeter or oscilloscope for signal analysis.
According to Autoequip, the functionality works as such:
The model is available at the Autoequip Australia website, priced at $480
Roadmap reform paves way for automated vehicles
Ministers have announced a roadmap for automated vehicle regulation, including plans for fully autonomous vehicles to be on the road from 2020.
Ministers at the Transport and Infrastructure Council meeting in early November agreed to a series of reform initiatives designed to facilitate the arrival of automated vehicles onto the country’s roads over the next 24 months. The methods discussed include testing and trialling more automated vehicles, building confidence in the safe performance of automated vehicles under Australian conditions, providing clarity over insurance coverage in the event of a crash and developing a more responsive performance-based approach to the regulation of more automated vehicles.
Current regulations can support partially or conditionally automated vehicles, though control of the vehicle needs to be clarified, The Council’s reform program foresees such vehicles driving legally and safely on roads before 2020. As for highly and fully automated vehicles, the existing policy position, that the human driver remains in full legal control of a vehicle that is partially or conditionally automated, will have to be changed before they can legally and safely be used on Australia’s roads. According to the reform program’s timeline, such automated vehicles are expected to have received the go-ahead in, or soon after, 2020.
The program’s initial initiatives, set to commence over coming months, include the establishment of national guidelines for automated vehicle trails, clarification of control of a vehicle under differing levels of driving automation, the development of a comprehensive performance-based safety assurance regime for increasingly automated vehicles and the removal of regulatory barriers in Australian Road Rules and other transport laws that assume a human driver.
The initiatives have been outlined in a policy paper titled ‘Regulatory reforms for automated road vehicles’ which has now been released by the NTC.
Paul Retter, Chief Executive, NTC, said that removing regulatory barriers would maximise the benefits of automated vehicles, including improved road safety, freight productivity and reduced road congestion. “Inconsistent rules, regulations and application procedures for automated vehicles are potential obstacles to deploying this disruptive technology in the future,” Retter said. “Our goal is to identify and remove regulatory barriers, and avoid a patchwork of conflicting requirements in different states and territories.”
The NTC will soon release a discussion paper seeking feedback on the development of national guidelines for trials of automated vehicles as the first stage of reform.
Meanwhile, the South Australian Government is inviting applications for its $10 million Future Mobility Lab Fund to boost local testing, research and development of connected and autonomous vehicle technology.
As of this week, companies, industry bodies, research institutions and other organisations are now able to submit proposals that will help accelerate the development and implementation of the technology. The proposals will focus on three themes: autonomous vehicle testing and demonstrations, connected vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure pilots and demonstrations, and research and development.
“Connected and autonomous vehicles have enormous potential to save lives, reduce congestion and help people get around our community with more freedom,” said South Australian Transport and Infrastructure Minister, Stephen Mullighan. “We want proposals which will open up new opportunities for South Australian businesses and workers."
Global Volvo Executive praises Australian transport scene
With access to a world-leading High Productivity Freight Vehicle (HPFV) scheme and growing openness towards new technology, Australia’s commercial road transport scene could be one step ahead of the rest of the world, according to a Volvo Trucks Executive.
Claes Nilsson, Executive Vice President and President of Volvo Trucks at AB Volvo, told Prime Mover that HPFV initiatives like Performance-Based Standards (PBS) are rapidly reshaping the Australian road transport scene and might have already positioned it at the very forefront of trucking globally.
In an exclusive interview with the magazine, he said the local industry’s “remarkable service attitude” and openness to new technology – especially in a PBS context – is unique in the world.
“I have a lot of respect for the Australian transport scene, which I think is very open to new ideas – just think about the advent of the B-double a while back,” he said. “I sense a lot of energy from the transport businesses here.”
According to Nilsson, Volvo Trucks Australia’s recent foray into driver education and industry research is but one example of an industry taking action to set the agenda, with or without government involvement.
“It’s interesting to see what the local team has come up with and how it is becoming the voice of a whole industry – even though there is push from government behind it. It’s very much in line with what Volvo stands for, but also very unique in its own way.”
Truck driver killed and cyclist dies in separate accidents on South Australian roads
A FREIGHT-TRUCK driver has died after two trucks crashed in South Australia’s far west while a cyclist had collapsed near Willunga.
Emergency services were called to the Eyre Hwy, about 50km east of Yalata, after reports of a crash about 6.15am on Sunday.
When crews arrived, they found two trucks had crashed head on into each other. Witnesses reported one truck clipped the other.
One truck burst into flames while the other rolled onto its side.
Country Fire Service crews quickly extinguished the fire.
Police subsequently confirmed that a Sheidow Park man, 43, the driver and sole occupant of one of the trucks, had died at the scene.
The driver and passenger of the second truck were taken to Ceduna Hospital before being flown to the Royal Adelaide Hospital with non life threatening injuries.
An SA Ambulance spokeswoman said one suffered an arm injury.
The road was strewn with debris from the mangled trucks as police put in place road closures and traffic restrictions for most of Sunday.
Major Crash Investigation Branch officers attended the scene.
Meanwhile, on the Fleurieu Peninsula, a cyclist has died.
Police and emergency services were called to the intersection of Old Willunga Hill Rd and Matthews St, Willunga, after reports a cyclist had crashed and died about 12.30pm on Sunday.
Major Crash investigators are attending the scene but The Advertiser understands the cyclist, a 54-year-old Valley View man, may have suffered a medical episode. No vehicle was involved in the crash.
Truck spills load of logs near South Eastern Freeway underpass, Mount Barker
A TRUCK fortunately escaped with no serious injuries after his vehicle rolled near the underpass of the South Eastern Freeway this morning.
The semi-trailer carrying timber logs overturned on Bald Hills Rd near Mount Barker about 6am.
The truck’s spilt load caused a bit of a log jam near the South Eastern Freeway underpass.
The driver was able to get out of the cabin but there were some traffic delays in the area while the truck and logs were moved off the road
Bruce Highway receives $46.7 million upgrades
Road surface and eight intersections to be updated under new projects
Construction is set to begin on four Bruce Highway upgrades in central Queensland worth $46.7 million.
As part of ongoing improvements on the freight route, the Queensland government has confirmed the next series of works will widen and reconstruct the road surface and update intersections along stretches of the highway between Rockhampton and Miriam Vale.
The biggest project, valued at $32 million, will upgrade the highway from Bajool to Midgee, south of Rockhampton.
The Bruce Highway’s intersection with South Ulam Road in Bajool will also be updated in a $2.8 million project.
Further south, a $6.7 million project will widen, reconstruct and upgrade intersections from Miriam Vale to Bororen.
The fourth project will focus on the Bruce Highway north of Rockhampton, allocating $5.2 million for safety works and an intersection upgrade at Atkinson Road, Raspberry Creek Road and Kooltrandra Road.
The latest allocation of funds forms part of a promised $6.7 billion investment from the federal government from 2013 until 2023, which says the freight and tourism route needs a safety boost.
"The Bruce Highway is the economic backbone of many Queensland communities and our freight and tourism industries rely on it for their prosperity," federal member for Flynn Ken O’Dowd says.
"These much-needed safety upgrades will include pavement widening, rebuilding rough, potholed or corrugated sections of highway and upgrading intersections to separate turning vehicles from highway traffic."
The upgrades to the highway’s intersections will also be key, federal member for Capricornia Michelle Landry says.
"These projects are about improving safety and efficiency on the Bruce Highway – especially at rural dangerous intersections," she says.
"These works mean that turning vehicles will soon have their own lane while highway traffic can safely continue uninterrupted."
The new roads will feature the wide centre lines introduced in the state in 2010, which currently reside on 711km of the highway and according to the Queensland main roads and road safety minister Mark Bailey, reduce fatal and hospitalisation crashes where vehicles have crossed the centre line by 43 per cent.
Will Road Rage Disappear In The Future?
Will Road Rage Disappear In The Future? One of the features of life on the road for truckies, and other road users, for the past twenty or so years, has been road rage. It seemed to come out of nowhere, all of a sudden drivers were jumping out of their vehicles and attacking others drivers by the side of the road, in retaliation for some perceived issue on the road.
My first experience was seeing a van driver screaming to a halt at traffic lights before running along the median strip to a car in front of him. He then proceeded to punch the closed driver’s window while screaming abuse at the driver inside. A few seconds later the lights turned green and the car sped off, as the enraged van driver took a kick at the rear wing of the offending car.
The shock of seeing and hearing such violence at 10.30am on a weekday brought me up with a start and made me look at my own attitudes. Many of us get angry and frustrated with other road users, due to their lack of consideration, or sheer stupidity, but our reactions are limited to the uttered oath and the occasional rude gesture. Road rage takes the level up quite a few notches and has put people in harms way.
One of the root causes of the phenomenon comes from drivers’ belief in their own ability to drive and that they are in full control of the vehicle. The modern car is designed to make drivers feel safe and secure, insulated from what is going on on the road around them.
Those driving trucks do not feel quite so in control. Yes, they are definitely better drivers and will have more driving experience, on average, but the truck will also remind them, more often, they are not in quite so much control as they would like. When a second trailer drifts, or the drives lose traction momentarily, they are reminded of the fact they are in forty-odd tonnes of metal travelling at 100 km/h.
For truck drivers the road rage comes more from the perceived inability of the car drivers around them to understand what travelling with trucks involves. The truck driver has little or no confidence in the car drivers’ belief in their own ability to drive. Cars are seen as a permanent ‘accident waiting to happen’.
The tension between drivers on the road seems to ramp up year-on-year, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. When surveyed, most car drivers would consider investing in an autonomous car, when they become available.
This would mean cars on the road would have built in systems, which know exactly what is going on around them and what’s round the next corner. The car or truck, itself, will anticipate any incident and either brake or avoid the issue. Vehicles will stop for red lights automatically and divert from the normal route to avoid frustrating congestion.
How long it will be before this new dawn of autonomous traffic will be with us is an open question. However, the experts tell us it only needs ten percent of the vehicles on the road to be using Intelligent Transport Systems before we start to see real improvements.
Will the brave new world of autonomy be all sweetness and light? The optimist in me can see a future of smiling truck drivers sitting at the lights reading a novel or playing a game on their ipad. The pessimist can see road ragers punching the LCD screen on the dash screaming, ‘****ing stupid machine!’