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Performance based standards

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has been responsible for the administration of the Performance Based Standards (PBS) Scheme since 21 January 2013.

Since that time, the NHVR has been responsible for approving PBS designs and vehicles on advice from the PBS Review Panel.

The NHVR: 

  • receives all PBS Scheme design and vehicle applications 
  • has a dedicated PBS team to handle your enquiries 
  • publishes PBS Scheme guidelines to help you navigate the approval process 
  • has a PBS network classification maps portal available online

Visit NHVR's PBS Scheme website for more information, including bulletins and maps.

National notice for Performance Based Standards truck and dog trailer combinations

In May 2016, the NHVR published a National Class 2 PBS Level 1 and 2A Truck and Dog Trailer Authorisation Notice, 2016.

The notice applies to the operation of approved PBS truck and dog trailer combinations on defined PBS Level 1 and Level 2A road networks.

A copy of the notice and an accompanying fact sheet is now available via the NHVR National Notice webpage.

Queensland Performance Based Standards Level 1 and Level 2A roads classifications

In Queensland, the PBS Level 1 network includes all roads, including local roads.

The PBS Level 2A network incorporates the 23m B-double network, although vehicles longer than 23m may only travel on the 25m B-double networks.

Currently the PBS Level 2A network is defined on the multi-combination vehicle route maps as the approved 23 metre B-double and 26 metre B-double network.

Maps of the PBS Level 2A (B-double) network are available from the multi-combination routes and zones in Queensland webpage.   

Performance Based Standards

An image of a prime mover and semi-trailerThe PBS Scheme provides industry additional opportunities to innovate, resulting in improved productivity for a given freight task, safer performance and the least possible effects on roads and bridges. The scheme focuses on how well the vehicle behaves on the road, rather than how big and heavy (length and mass) it is, through a set of safety and infrastructure protection standards.

The Performance Based Standards Review Panel manages the assessment and approval of applications for vehicles under the scheme with the assistance of the NHVR. The approval includes the performance level applicable to the particular vehicle design. After receiving the approval, applicants then apply to individual jurisdictions for access to the road network via a Performance Based Standard permit.

The basic principle is that heavy vehicles seeking wider access to the road network must meet tougher safety standards. For example, a level 2 vehicle must be assessed and approved to safety standards (turning, stability, road space) consistent with level 2 road characteristics (lane width, traffic volume and so on).

Two classes of network access have been identified nationally, Performance Based Standards class A and Performance Based Standards class B.

Performance Based Standards class A vehicles in Queensland can access the road network detailed in Table one with a Performance Based Standards permit, as follows:

Table one: Performance Based Standards class A performance levels, maximum vehicle lengths and applicable routes
Performance based standards vehicle performance level Maximum vehicle length Equivalent prescriptive access Applicable routes

Level 1

20 metres (m)

General access All roads in Queensland.

Level 2A

26 m

25 m B-double routes


B-double and road train routes as listed in the Multi-combination vehicles page.

Level 3A

36.5 m

Road train (type 1) routes

Level 4A

53.5 m

Road train (type 2) routes

† Subject to a 50.5 tonne (t) gross mass limit, posted local restrictions and restrictions or limitations specified by the asset owner responsible for the management of the road network (Department of Main Roads, local government, Queensland Rail, private owner).

Maximum vehicle lengths for Performance Based Standards class B categories are longer than class A. The increased vehicle length could potentially affect road classification aspects such as:

  • stacking distances at intersections and railway level crossings
  • warning times at railway level crossings
  • signal timing and storage length at intersections
  • overtaking provision
  • enforcement bays and rest area sizes.

PBS Class B vehicle combinations are longer than currently allowed freight vehicles.

Due to increased vehicle length issues, Performance Based Standards class B road classifications will only be implemented where a higher standard road is assessed as being capable of safely carrying longer vehicles. For this reason, the assessment and classification of relevant road segments into Performance Based Standards level 2B, 3B and 4B will be undertaken on an 'as requested' basis with a focus on road networks of strategic significance. Performance Based Standards vehicle performance levels and corresponding maximum vehicle lengths are detailed in Table two.

Table two: Performance based standards class B performance levels
and maximum vehicle lengths
Performance based standards vehicle performance level Maximum vehicle length
Level 2B 30 m
Level 3B 42 m
Level 4B 60 m
Last updated
24 August 2017