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New Performance Based Standards released for heavy vehicles

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The NZ Transport Agency has released new Performance Based Standards (PBS) that will help determine whether non-standard heavy vehicles meet the safety performance requirements equivalent to standard vehicles.

The safety performance requirements for a standard heavy vehicle are contained in the Vehicle Dimensions and Mass Rule 2016 (VDAM). However, alternative heavy vehicle combinations such as High Productivity Motor Vehicles have to be carefully designed to make sure they meet the principle set by the VDAM Rule – that they are as safe as a standard vehicle. PBS are therefore used to assess whether a non-standard heavy vehicle will be safe to operate on the road.

Safety is primarily determined by how the vehicle fits on the road and its ability to take avoidance manoeuvres at speed without losing control.

Previously, PBS were largely based on standards developed overseas. The new PBS are better suited to New Zealand’s more frequently narrow and winding roads.

The Transport Agency’s Regulatory General Manager, Kane Patena, says the new PBS encourage better design and safer performance on the network.

“In particular they’ll exhibit improved tracking within a lane on tight curves and allow productivity improvements such as being able to simultaneously cart a 20- and 40-foot ISO container. The new PBS will enhance safety while maintaining – or even improving – productivity.

“The new PBS provide a transparent and consistent process for assessing non-standard heavy vehicles. They’ll provide certainty to the industry on what truck configurations they can put on the road, particularly for the new High Productivity Motor Vehicle fleet.”

The new PBS were developed in consultation with industry representatives. The standards were internationally peer reviewed and extensive computer modelling was undertaken, which was then validated by practical on-road trials.

The new PBS are available at https://www.nzta.govt.nz/commercial-driving/high-productivity/performance-based-standards. Also available are the first proforma designs that meet the new PBS. In future, other proforma designs will be released based on identified need, and a framework for assessing unique designs will also be released.

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