Transport and Covid-19: responses and resources

Moving Freight with Better Trucks

The purpose of this report is to identify potential improvements in terms of more effective safety and environmental regulation for trucks, backed by better systems of enforcement, and to identify opportunities for greater efficiency and higher productivity.

The report is based on a review of literature, consultation among stakeholders, and research and analysis from working group members. It also presents the results of a comprehensive benchmarking study of 39 truck configurations in operation around the world – from typical workhorse vehicles to very high capacity vehicles – and assesses their performance in terms of dynamic stability, productivity and impact on the infrastructure. 

Policy Insights

  • The freight transport task is growing rapidly in most regions and requires effective utilisation of all modes of transport.
  • The safety and environmental impacts of road haulage require regulatory intervention for optimal outcomes.
  • Compliance can be improved greatly through legislation that assigns responsibility.
  • Compliance regimes can be enhanced by exploiting technological innovations.
  • A performance based approach to regulation offers the potential to meet community objectives for road freight transport more fully.
  • Many higher capacity vehicles have equivalent or even better intrinsic safety characteristics in some respects than most common workhorse trucks.
  • Truck crash energies mean safety regulation must pay particular attention to managing truck speeds and driver alertness and impairment.
  • Higher capacity vehicles have potential to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.
  • Higher capacity vehicles can result in fewer vehicle-kilometres travelled.
  • The lower unit costs offered by higher productivity trucks could result in increased overall demand for road freight transport and a transfer of freight from other modes.
  • Road pricing systems can be developed to manage use of the transport network more efficiently.
  • Road infrastructure and trucks need to be developed in concert.
  • Significant opportunities for improvement of the regulation of heavy trucks have been identified.

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