Look out, here’s triple

The big rigs are com­ing and driv­ers will need new skills, writesGRAHAMSMITH

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

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.’’

Though they

are

larger

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.

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