B-double breakthrough in Argentina

Argentina has legalised the use of B-doubles nationally with the passage of a new regulatory framework defining all active and passive safety technical features required as well as the authorised road network.

The two regulations making up the framework, 918/2015 and 2/2015, come 18 months after a presidential decree from April 2014 announced the move to B-doubles, or bi-trains, on a national level and just two weeks before the presidential election.

“The regulations have come out with all the safety features [industry stakeholders] have been aiming for, so the endless meetings and discussions have paid off,” commented local engineer and Vice-President Central and South America at the International Forum for Road Transport Technology (IFRTT), Dr Alejandra Efrón – stating opposition against features such as stability control had been “strong” initially.

According to Efrón, the presidential decree 574/2014 defined bi-trains as vehicles formed by a truck and two semitrailers “bi-articulated by a B-couple or fifth wheel”. It allowed for configurations that were up to 30.25m long, with a gross weight of 75 tonnes.

The new framework now specifies that they also need to feature pneumatic suspension and an electronic weighing system, as well as LED lighting.

According to Efrón, Anti-locking Braking Systems (ABS), Electronic Braking Systems (EBS) and Stability Control Systems (ESC) must be fitted to both truck and trailers as well.

All three elements of a bi-train – truck and two semi-trailers – can be interchangeable, as long as they have a Technical Certificate showing compatibility among the different models, and the weights and dimensions of the configuration are considered.

Also part of the new law is the electronic limitation of the units’ maximum speed to 80km/h. A B-double will therefore have to be equipped with a GPS that is able to register speed as well as compliance with the road corridor used, and boast a minimum power-to-weight ratio of 6.75CV/tonne.

“I think it is very good news and sets precedent as legislation, indicating that with today’s technology, road freight can be more competitive without compromising communities’ safety,” said Efrón.

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