Grain trucks more compliant during harvest says NHVR report

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Grain trucks were more compliant with mass limits in Victoria during the last harvest season despite a significant increase in total yield, according to a new report.

Victoria’s Grain Harvest Management Scheme saw improvements in compliance with mass limits when transporting grain

A scheme to help grain truck drivers load their vehicles more accurately saved more than 8,000 trips over a substantially stronger harvest season.

The 2020-21 Harvest Period Report into Victoria’s Grain Harvest Management Scheme (GHMS), released in July by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) showed strong improvements in compliance.

The GHMS was designed in response to industry calls that protested the difficulty many have with heavy vehicle mass limits when loading grain for transport.

Uncertainties around the changing density and mass of grains and other crops when being transported can create difficulties during the process of loading trucks with grain before they are sent to a grain receiver.

First launched four years ago, the GHMS allows scheme-registered vehicles an extra mass allowance of up to 5 per cent above the statutory general mass limit for vehicles delivering grain to a participating grain receiver.

According to VicRoads, the scheme allows for an efficient grain harvest while helping to eliminate overloading on road systems.

The report, which is based on data provided to the NHVR by participating grain receivers Emerald Grain, Viterra, CHS Broadbent, GrainFlow, Ridley Agriproducts, GrainCorp and Teys, says a total of 7,048 vehicles delivered grain to these facilities during the last harvest season.

Interest in the scheme has grown year on year, with a 32.6 per cent rise in participating vehicles in 2020–21, with 399 vehicles participating in the scheme and 18,522 deliveries made by those vehicles.

While the GHMS vehicles only represented 5.6 per cent of all vehicles used to deliver grain, the report says vehicles registered under the scheme made more trips to grain facilities, transporting 9.8 per cent of all grain delivered.

Covering the period from 1 October 2020 to 21 May 2021, the most recent GHMS report shows that, despite an increase of 25 per cent in Victoria’s total harvest size to 5.2 million tonnes, the number of mass limit breaches were the lowest recorded under the scheme to date.

According to the report, the number of total breaches fell 1.6 per cent to 16.9 per cent of all deliveries in 2020–21; an improvement on the previous year, when 18.44 per cent of all deliveries were in breach.

Most breaches of the legal weight limits were by under one tonne, with the report saying extreme mass breaches (of over three tonnes) had reduced to 2.5 per cent in 2020–21, compared to 3.3 per cent the year before.

For vehicles registered under the GHMS, the rate of non-compliance had dropped significantly, to 9.35 per cent of all vehicles in 2020–21 – compared to 25.16 per cent in 2019-20.

Of the total deliveries made in Victoria in 2020–21, 57.36 per cent were made in a vehicle loaded within 95 per cent of its allowable mass limit – a figure that actually drops to 54.46 per cent among GHMS participants.

Nonetheless, with the GHMS weight allowance, alongside concessional mass limits, higher mass limits, performance-based standards and other concession types, a total of 8,524 trips were saved in 2020–21 – an improvement on the 6,661 trips saved the previous year.

Applications open in September for companies wishing to participate in the scheme for the coming harvest season, but parties wishing to join the scheme must own a vehicle manufactured on or after January 1, 2002 and be delivering grain to a participating receiver.


According to the report, the most common vehicle type reported delivering grain to receiver facilities were prime mover and semi-trailer combinations with six axles, followed by B-double vehicles.

The average year of manufacture for the fleet completing the grain transport task has increased from 1982 to 1995 since the introduction of the Scheme four years ago, with the median year of manufacture now sitting at 2003.

The number of vehicles that are over 40 years old delivering grain has also dropped significantly in the last four seasons, the report says. The findings come as the NHVR launches a new campaign to encourage road users to give agricultural vehicles extra space on the road ahead of this year’s planting and harvest season.

NHVR chief executive Sal Petroccitto said the recent increase in Australians moving to regional communities in the past year meant more traffic for agricultural vehicle drivers to safely navigate during the up-coming harvest.

"We know up to four out of five crashes involving a heavy vehicle are caused by light vehicle drivers, so it’s important motorists understand how to safely share the road with heavy vehicles," says Petroccitto.

"Tractors, grain harvesters and air seeders all have limited turning ability, visibility of other vehicles, speed range and space on our roads.

"If you’re travelling near an agricultural vehicle, please be patient, reduce your speed, maintain a safe following distance of two seconds or more, and only overtake if it is safe to do so.

The NHVR has launched a new website with information about sharing the road safely with heavy vehicles – – which had a video and information package encouraging drivers not to overtake turning trucks at the time of going to press.

"If an oversized ag vehicle is approaching you from the opposite direction, you may need to pull over safely to let them pass," says Petroccitto.

"It’s these simple tips that will help reduce risk for all road users and ensure everyone arrives safely at their destination – whether it’s to the silo, stockyard or home."

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