Review of Major Crash Rates for Australian Higher Productivity Vehicles: 2015-2019

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Review of Major Crash Rates for Australian Higher Productivity Vehicles: 2015-2019



Performance Based Standards (PBS) vehicles are safer than conventional vehicles based on distance travelled. The report was prepared for the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport Australia (CILTA), National Transport Insurances (NTI’s) and the National Truck Accident Research Centre (NTARC). The analysis focussed on major crashes, i.e., claims exceeding $50,000.


“The study examined 20,091 conventional vehicles and 2,353 PBS vehicles which each had 2,420 and 116 major accidents, respectively.” The analysis looked at crash rates per vehicles and per Vehicle Kilometres Travelled (VKT). NTARC data extracts and supplementary survey data. Note nsv: not statistically valid.

Conventional Vehicle Configuration Accident Rate per 100m km Accident Rate per 10k vehicles PBS/HPV Vehicle Configuration PBS Accident Rate per 100m km PBS Accident Rate per 10k vehicles
HR2 or 3 axle truck with 3 axle trailer and HR3 or 4 axle truck with 3 or 4 axle trailer 16.7 119 HR 2 or 3 axle truck with 3 axle trailer 3.7 (nsv) 48.0 (nsv)
HR 3 or 4 axle truck with 4 axle trailer 6.3 80.8
HR 3 or 4 truck with 5 axle trailer 14.2 (nsv) 240.8 (nsv)
HR 3 or 4 axle truck with 6 axle trailer 10.6 (nsv) 174.2 (nsv)
TOTAL Rigid Configurations 16.7 119 TOTAL Rigid Configurations 8.8 98.7
Semi-Trailer 19.3 152.7 Enhanced semi (e-semi) 20m or twin steer Semi with or without Quad axle rear group 2.8 98.6
B-Double 12 158.5 Super B-Doublle (SBD) 8.5 122.2 (nsv)
Quad axled B-Double (EBD) 3.7 76.4
A-Double 6.7 149.1
Double Road Train 24.1 268.7 (nsv) AA, AB, BA, BB Triple 2.8 59.4
Triple Road Train 26.2 261.5 (nsv)
B-Double 12 158.5 AAB BAB Quad 6.2 (nsv) 122.6 (nsv)
TOTAL Articulated 17.6 171.4 TOTAL PBS Articulated 5.4 119.4
TOTAL Conventional Configurations 17.5 158.9 TOTAL PBS Configurations 7 110.6
TOTAL Major Crash Benefit of PBS/HPV Trucks over Conventional Trucks 60% 30.40%

Interestingly the conventional fleet is 78% roll-coupled and 22% drawbar, whereas the PBS fleet is approximately 26% roll-coupled and 74% drawbar combinations. Conventional combinations are dominated by semi-trailers (50%) and b-doubles (27%), these are roll-coupled combinations which are traditionally associated with higher levels of safety compared to combinations with non-roll-coupled drawbars. Conversely, the PBS Fleet is dominated by Truck and dogs and A-doubles which have an additional articulation point, which makes them more manoeuvrable at low speeds (i.e., they take up less road space) but less stable at higher speeds (e.g., more prone to trailer sway during a high-speed lane change).


Unfortunately, the crash data provided does not provide further insight into the nature of these major crashes and pinpoint exactly why PBS vehicles are safer. For example, is it because the vehicles are inherently safer with greater Static Rollover Threshold (SRT), more reliable tyres and better braking systems or is it because vehicle operators who opt-in to the PBS scheme generally have better safter processes and cultures in place?


Nevertheless, the data shows a significant benefit for PBS vehicle and hopefully will encourage road managers and operators to embrace the scheme further and expand access, while continuing to drive safer and more productive vehicles.


For each PBS/HPV Vehicle configuration such as Semi-trailers, A-Doubles, Super B-Double, Quad Trailer and rigid 4-axle trailers, there have been significant improvements in crash rates. “These PBS Vehicles and heavy rigid trucks are forecasted to save some 143 lives by 2033.”


With the safety metrics and analysis for improvement in major crashes for the past 5 years, we can see a growth in PBS, where all vehicle combinations are part of a higher productive and safer heavy vehicle Australian Road Transport industry.


“The conventional vehicle fleet is made up of 50% semi-trailers, 27% B-Doubles, 8% Truck and Dogs, and 9% Double Road Trains. Whereas, the PBS fleet is 18% Semi-trailers, 8% B-Doubles, 44% Truck and Dogs, and 24% A-Doubles.” The study drew on data from both the NHVR and NTI.

Equivalent PBS Level


Total (%)

PBS Combination

Total (%)


Semi-trailers (50%), Truck and Quad Dog (8%)


Semi-trailers (18%), Truck and 3-axle Dog (8%), Truck and Quad Dog (31%)





Truck and Quin Dog (4%), Truck and 6-axle Dog (1%), Super B-Doubles (6%), Enhanced B-Doubles (2%)



Double Road Trains (9%), B-Triple (1%)


BB, AB, BA Triples



Triple Road Trains (5%), Quads (<1%)


BAB, AAB Quads