The Australian government has always focused on improving road safety at all levels. The government has undertaken a range of initiatives to reduce road tolls. Though the number of fatal crashes involving heavy trucks has reduced by an average of 4.1% over the past three years (Dept of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development, Australia) more can be done to improve these results using low-cost immediate impact measures. Innovative reflective technologies can be used to improve the visibility of heavy vehicles and thereby prevent fatal truck crashes to a great extent.
Data indicates that most of the truck accidents were caused between 6 pm and 6 am due to lack of visibility. Trucks with outline reflective markings are recognised easily, giving drivers more time to manoeuvre safely. The ATA (Australian Trucking Association) has developed heavy vehicle visibility Technical Advisory Procedure (TAP – 2nd Edition Aug 2016), which specifies the various methods to improve vehicle visibility. Based on the European Regulation – UN ECE R104, this TAP defines the performance, placement and material specifications of the retro-reflective markings for heavy and long vehicles and their trailers. The TAP also specifies the types of reflective markings that are approved, their material and dimensional requirements, recommended colours, applicability to vehicle types, cost estimates and instructions on how to apply the tapes.
The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has released an inspection manual – The National Heavy Vehicle Inspection Manual (NHVIM V-2.3) to introduce a consistent set of failure criteria to be applied while inspecting heavy vehicles. It aims to ensure the roadworthiness of heavy vehicles. It applies to all vehicles that have an aggregate trailer mass or gross vehicle mass greater than 4.5 tonnes. With an objective to ensure that all compulsory lights, reflectors and other reflective lighting components as required by ADR standards are operational, section 8.5 of the NHVIM highlights the reasons for rejection of conspicuity markings.
Following are the causes for rejection as mentioned in the NHVIM:
- Colour of the reflective conspicuity markings:
- White coloured tape is used in the rear
- Red coloured tape is used to the side or front
- Yellow coloured tape is used in the front
- Any colour other than red, yellow or white is used.
- Retro-reflective markings do not cover at least 80% of the length or width of the vehicle.
- The markings on the side of the vehicle are not within 600mm of the front or rear of the vehicle.
- The markings that are at the lowest part of the vehicle are less than 250mm or more than 1500mm above the ground. In case the vehicle design prevents the conspicuity markings to be placed with 1500mm then they may be fitted up to 2100mm above the ground.
- In case of full or partial contour markings fitted to the side of the vehicle, the markings at the top are more than 400mm away from the upper extremity of the vehicle.
- For full or partial contour markings fitted to the rear of the vehicle, the markings at the sides and the top are more than 400mm away from the outer edge and upper extremity respectively.
- The retro-reflective markings are not ADR 13 compliant.
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