Probe into un­der-run sys­tem

ATA has rigids and prime movers on re­view radar

Big Rigs - - TRUCKIE TECH - Brent Dav­i­son

SIDE Un­der-run Pro­tec­tion sys­tems, in­tro­duced for use on semi-trail­ers al­most eight years ago, are back in the news but this time the fo­cus has been widened to in­clude their use prime movers and large rigid trucks.

The Aus­tralian Truck As­so­ci­a­tion re­cently formed a six-mem­ber work­ing group to re­view the Side Un­der-run Pro­tec­tion Tech­ni­cal Ad­vi­sory Pro­ce­dure that was ini­tially ac­cepted for semi-trail­ers in 2012.

This lat­est re­view, ATA chief en­gi­neer Bob Wood­ward said, was based on Euro­pean reg­u­la­tions and was be­ing done to look at what might be needed for rigids and prime movers.

The pro­tec­tion bar­ri­ers, fixed to the chas­sis and made from ei­ther tra­di­tional steel purlins, alu­minium chan­nel or a com­pos­ite fi­bre ma­te­rial known as Monopan 30 com­pos­ite panel, will fit within the wheel­base and sit some 525mm above the road sur­face, ex­tend to a height of at least 950mm and shield any free space be­tween the front and rear wheels.

Sit­ting no more than 100mm from the tyre tread sur­face, they will solely pro­tect pedes­tri­ans and cy­clists by cut­ting the risk of them get­ting into that space.

“Peo­ple need to un­der­stand that a side un­der-run won’t keep a car out,” Mr Wood­ward said.

“Side un­der-run is more about pedes­tri­ans and cy­clists. I don’t think it would even keep a mo­tor­cy­cle out be­cause the de­sign forces aren’t very high.

“The side im­pact force is the equiv­a­lent of about 102kg, which is around 1000 New­tons.”

There were some con­cerns in the in­dus­try that the lat­est TAP ad­di­tions could be­come manda­tory, adding fur­ther cost bur­dens that would be felt par­tic­u­larly by small busi­nesses, but Mr Wood­ward was em­phatic that would not be the case.

“It won’t be­come manda­tory un­til such time as there is a fed­eral re­view of the re­quire­ment and it meets a cost-ben­e­fit anal­y­sis,” he said.

“That’s why the ATA pro­duces these (TAP) doc­u­ments, be­cause in most cases they are cov­er­ing a sit­u­a­tion where the re­quire­ment is vol­un­tary.

“They pro­vide guide­lines for peo­ple to in­stall some­thing that’s deemed to be in ac­cor­dance with the reg­u­la­tions. In this case that reg­u­la­tion is a Euro­pean one.”

The reg­u­la­tion un­der con­sid­er­a­tion and be­ing re­worked to meet Aus­tralian op­er­a­tions and con­di­tions is known as UN ECE R73.

But while own­ers, op­er­a­tors and man­u­fac­tur­ers won’t be leg­is­lated into us­ing side un­der-run bar­ri­ers, some busi­nesses may re­quire their use, de­mand­ing their car­ri­ers meet the vol­un­tary re­quire­ment as an Oc­cu­pa­tional Health and Safety re­quire­ment.

“That has hap­pened in the past,” Mr Wood­ward said.

He said the cost of un­der­run bar­ri­ers was an open ques­tion but they would not be overly ex­pen­sive to make and fit – but any per­ceived aero­dy­namic and fuel-sav­ing ad­van­tages were “ar­bi­trary”.

When it came to the num­bers of un­for­tu­nate cy­clists and pedes­tri­ans be­ing in­jured or killed by go­ing un­der trucks, Mr Wood­ward said the num­bers were not high and would be fac­tored in to any cost-ben­e­fit analy­ses.

“There have been a few cases of peo­ple walk­ing be­hind a rigid truck towing a trailer and the dog trailer has cleaned them up but this (side un­der-run pro­tec­tion) won’t fix that,” he said.

“How do you pro­tect the draw-bar area? There have been var­i­ous dis­cus­sions about that over the years (and) I don’t know how you fix that prob­lem.”

In re­la­tion to side un­der-run pro­tec­tion up­take, Mr Wood­ward said it was im­pos­si­ble to make a pre­dic­tion but there were some sec­tions of the in­dus­try that were likely to be­come early adopters, such as the quar­ry­ing and con­struc­tion sec­tors.

“They are now ask­ing for this sort of stuff from their sup­pli­ers be­cause there is a lot of con­struc­tion go­ing on in the cities so there are a lot of trucks and tip­pers run­ning around,” he said.

“The in­fra­struc­ture projects that are hap­pen­ing in the ma­jor cap­i­tals are quite sig­nif­i­cant (and) they ob­vi­ously see a per­spec­tive ben­e­fit by be­ing seen to be try­ing to do some­thing.”

❝ Peo­ple need to un­der­stand that a side un­der-run won’t keep a car out ... (it’s) more about pedes­tri­ans and cy­clists.

— BOB WOOD­WARD

PHO­TOS: CON­TRIB­UTED

UN­DER RE­VIEW: The ATA is look­ing at how the side pro­tec­tion de­vices are in use around Europe.

Bob Wood­ward is head­ing up the re­view into the changes.

Side pro­tec­tion de­vices are un­der the mi­cro­scope.

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