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50 MAX trucks usher in a new era in road freight transport

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A new generation of road freight transport permits are ringing in a new era in road freight transport, the Transport Agency says.

The Agency has issued around 300 permits for 50MAX trucks since October this year. 50 MAX trucks are slightly longer than conventional 44 tonne vehicles, have an additional axle (9 in total) and can have a total weight of up to 50 tonnes.  Because the overall truckload is spread further, there is no additional wear on roads per tonne of freight.

The Transport Agency’s Freight Director, Harry Wilson, says the increased payloads of 50MAX can lead to economic benefits for producers, customers and communities, and can make road freight transport safer.

“Allowing 50MAX on our roads reduces the number of truck trips needed to move the same amount of freight, potentially resulting in fewer trucks on the road.  Further, 50MAX trucks must meet the same high safety standards as other High Productivity Motor Vehicles, including increased resistance to roll over and the inclusion of electronic braking systems.”

Mr Wilson says a number of operators are investing in speed limiting, GPS monitoring, weight load cells, Electronic Stability Control, electronic road-user charges and other safety measures.

“The Transport Agency recommends that all road transport operators consider the use of such available technology.  One of Transport Agency’s main concerns is to create the safest possible transport environment.  We aim for economic efficiencies, but only if safety can improve with it,” Mr Wilson says.

Inspector Gwynne Pennell, Manager of Police’s Commercial Vehicle Inspection Unit (CVIU), agrees. “Police want the best road safety outcomes for industry and the public,” she says. “The safety enhancements built into the modern truck fleet accompanied by technological developments such as e-logbooks will drive the sector towards willing compliance. This means the commercial vehicle sector has the opportunity to be road safety leaders.”

Mr Wilson says the economic benefits of 50MAX could be substantial. “50MAX raises the carrying capability on routes where the carrying capacity of the infrastructure is lower and it is not possible for existing 8-axle trucks to carry more than 44 tonnes.”

“The 50MAX axle configuration of 50MAX is an option for industry to use if they choose.  It provides freight operators with an opportunity to increase efficiencies to their vehicle fleet, and to share these benefits with customers and the community.”

Mr Wilson says 50MAX supports the Transport Agency’s and local authorities’ goals to ensure the integrity and longevity of its structures, and that all road users pay their fair share for the use of the nation’s roads.

Mr Wilson says the Transport Agency has been accepting 50MAX permit applications for State Highways in the North Island and South Island, as well as a steadily increasing number of roads delegated by local authorities.  The Transport Agency is seeking agreement from local authorities to issue permits on their behalf, and more roads will be added to the 50MAX network as they become available.

Mr Wilson says the response from local authorities has been excellent.  “We have received more than 70% of all relevant roading data from Road Controlling Authorities (RCAs) for inclusion for 50MAX. We are now working this data into 50MAX maps.  Once this is done, we will proceed with RCAs to seek delegation to issue 50MAX permits in the regions.”

Mr Wilson says that to date 23 RCAs have given the Transport Agency delegation to issue 50MAX permits.

More information on 50MAX, including Questions and Answers, are available at www.nzta.govt.nz/50MAX(external link)

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