Look out, here’s triple
The big rigs are coming and drivers will need new skills, writesGRAHAMSMITH
HUGE B- triples, prime movers pulling three trailers, are the future of the road transport industry, DECA driver training’s Ian Bushby says. But their drivers will need special training, and DECA is preparing to deliver it.
About 33m long and weighing up to 77 tonnes, the huge B-triples are substantially larger than even the biggest B-double rigs now using our roads, and they handle quite differently.
They’re no different from a B-Double when tracking straight down the road, but their extra length and weight makes big differences to the way they stop and turn.
The extra weight means longer braking distances, and the extra length means they take more time to turn and change lanes.
‘‘Drivers have to understand the weight, length and swept path, which are all different,’’ Bushby says. ‘‘The weight means the braking distances are longer, so they have to be careful about maintaining a greater following distance.
‘‘And the trailer swing is quite different from that of a B-Double. There’s more cut-in, which means the driver needs to be careful to not cut across into adjacent lanes when turning and changing lanes.
‘‘The drivers also have to know the regulations and where they are allowed to go.’’
than anything seen before on everyday roads, B-triples aren’t the dangerous juggernauts some tend to think they are. Driven responsibly by skilled drivers trained to handle their mass and length, B-triples have the potential to make the roads safer by reducing the number of trucks on the roads and thereby reducing traffic density.
A B-triple carrying 77 tonnes has the potential to carry 14 per cent more cargo than a 26m B-double. In fewer than nine trips it can haul the same cargo a double needs 10 trips to transport. It has the potential to remove about 1.5 semi-trailers or three rigid delivery trucks from the roads, so it’s no wonder the road freight industry is keen to put them to work.
DECA, one of Australia’s leading driver training organisations, has recognised the need to train drivers of the big rigs.
‘‘There’s a future in B-triples,’’ Bushby says. ‘‘It’s a matter of when they become a reality, not if, given the forecast freight task.’’
To start the training, DECA has taken delivery of a new 2008 Euro 4compliant 520 horsepower Volvo FH12 prime mover and a new set of trailers that can be combined to form a B-triple set.
The DECA rig conforms to the B-triple ‘‘blueprint’’ defined under the Performance Based Standards (PBS), which describes a truck in terms of its on-road safety and performance rather than dimensions.
With 388kW from its 13.0-litre turbo diesel engine it meets the requirement for power and pulls a Vawdrey triple trailer set. It has disc brakes on all axles, including those on the trailers, as well as electronic braking, anti-rollover protection, automatic tyre inflation and underrun protection front, side and rear.
DECA has provisional VicRoads approval to run the truck on roads approved for B-triples, which in effect are the roads already approved for Ford to run its B-triples, but it is also in the process of attaining PBS approval.
With a limited road network available DECA will run its courses out of the Ford training centre in Broadmeadows, using Ford’s classroom and the nearby roads that have been approved for B-triples.
At present those include the Hume Highway, Western Ring Rd and the Princes Highway.
Ford has been running B-triples on the same route for 10 years and Bushby believes they can run without risk to public safety.
DECA is the first driver-training organisation to introduce B-triple training in Australia and it is believed to be the first time any organisation has offered training in the big rigs anywhere in the world.
Though DECA’s new B-triple truck will provide the on-road training drivers need, much of the training will take place using the new driving simulators that can be configured to simulate a wide variety of truck makes and models.
Long train running: the huge B-triples are on their way to Victoria’s main highways. DECA driver training’s Ian Bushby (inset) says these road giants are the freight carriers of the future and not the danger some imagine them to be.