Probe into under-run system
ATA has rigids and prime movers on review radar
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
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.