The recent notification by Government allowing an increase in the maximum permissible axle load on trucks is a move in right direction which will improve the efficiency of commercial transport in the country.
However, in the absence of adequate enforcement of rated load compliance in the field, prevalent practices of rampant overload could pose serious road safety threats, which may necessitate government issuing suitable advisories for better clarity. This was stated by Dr. Abhay Firodia, President, SIAM today.
Dr. Firodia said, “Globally, higher axle loads are permitted which enables higher efficiencies in the goods transport industry. In India, historically, we had allowed lower axle loads as well as lower vehicle speeds due to the inability of our road and highway infrastructure to support such higher loads or speeds. With the modernization of India’s roads and highways, it is natural for Government to look at higher load carrying capacities in trucks. SIAM, in principle, has supported an increase in axle loads upto the European levels” Dr. Firodia added.
The notification does away with the present CMVR table of tyres & Axle combination against permissible Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW). This allows easier and more flexible development of new vehicle configurations of different tonnage by the manufacturers as it provides freedom of selection of any combination of tyre & axle within the CMVR permissible dimensions. This is also a welcome step, said Dr. Firodia.
However, the notification also raises some concerns related to safety, applicable date of the change and the readiness of the supply chain. Dr. Firodia said that the existing vehicles on the road are not certified for safety with the higher axle loads. Hence, this provision should not allow the existing vehicles with higher loads or else it will tantamount to legalising the wrong practice of overloading of the vehicles. Such overloaded vehicles may or may not be able to meet the mandatory braking & steering performance requirements leading to safety issues on the road. The new norms should be applicable only to the new vehicles which are certified by the test agencies from the safety point of view.
Higher loads on vehicles will also require upgraded tyres and new specifications of the axles for which the supply chain also needs to gear up. Finally, there is no date of implementation mentioned in the notification. As BS6 vehicles development is in full swing and many of the OEMs as well as the supply chain would need some time to upgrade product designs and certify these new vehicles, a clear date of implementation of 1st April 2020 aligning with introduction of BS6 vehicles would be more appropriate, said Dr. Firodia.