50MAX is a new generation of truck that allows for safe and more efficient transport of freight goods.
50MAX vehicle combinations have one more axle than conventional 44-tonne vehicles combinations, meaning the overall truck load is spread further and there is no additional wear on roads per tonne of freight. This means 50MAX gives operators an option to carry increased payloads on parts of the network that, while economically important to New Zealand, carry lower volumes of freight.
The increased payloads of 50MAX can lead to economic benefits for producers, customers and our communities. Allowing bigger trucks on our roads reduces the number of truck trips needed to move the same amount of freight.
Drive axles on tractor units and all trailer axles must be twin tyred for 50MAX truck and trailers, and for B-trains, to meet the 50MAX criteria or neutral pavement wear.
The 50MAX concept relies on neutral pavement wear to be viable on lower strength roads. The TERNZ report(external link) clearly shows the extensive use of twin tyres, therefore 50MAX has always been based on twin tyres in order to retain neutral pavement wear and to enhance the opportunity to grow the 50MAX network.
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A significant breakthrough has been achieved for freight efficiency with the opening of the Whirokino Trestle Bridge on State Highway 1 in Horowhenua to 50MAX.
Transport Agency Freight Director Harry Wilson says the restriction on the bridge south of Foxton was lifted after an extensive engineering assessment. ‘This is excellent news for 50MAX operators and local communities who stand to reap the benefits,’ says Mr Wilson. He says the 1100-metre reinforced concrete bridge which runs across the Manawatu flood plain was the last 50MAX restricted bridge along State Highway 1, meaning the whole length of the country from North Cape to the Bluff is now 50MAX compatible.
Having the Whirokino Trestle freed up for 50MAX traffic is going to be a significant time saver for 50MAX operators and provide major efficiency gains as it will remove the need to divert these trucks via Shannon and Palmerston North. Mr Wilson says the lifting of the restriction applies only to 50MAX, other high productivity motor vehicles (HPMVs) will need to continue to use the route specified on their permits.
Meanwhile, the number of 50MAX permits continues to rise. As at 1 October 2014, a total of 1843 permits were issued – less than a year after the permits were introduced. Mr Wilson says 50MAX trucks have the same high safety standards that are required of other HPMVs (including increased resistance to roll over and the inclusion of electronic braking systems), meaning they are trucks that are not only more efficient, but also safer.
He welcomed the fact that many operators are investing in even more safety measures, such as speed limiting, GPS monitoring, weight load cells and electronic stability control meaning they are trucks that are not only more efficient, but also safer.