TMC 2017: VTA outlines driver training, licensing shortfalls

Anderson recommends a national licensing model based on VTA’s training and instruction program

TMC 2017: VTA outlines driver training, licensing shortfalls
Anderson reinforces the importance of driver training.


Existing Australian heavy vehicle driver licence and training requirements are not of high standard, Victorian Transport Association (VTA) CEO Peter Anderson told a conference in Melbourne today.

Speaking at the 2017 Technical and Maintenance Conference (TMC), organised by the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) and Australian Road Transport Suppliers Association (ARTSA), Anderson outlined how heavy vehicle driver license training requirements are out of step with requirements for drivers of other modes of transport.

"Regrettably, the industry does not have a good record in training drivers, partially because there is very little funding support for it," Anderson says.

"In fact, there is very little training for drivers at all except for on the job experience.

"For example, we have an issue with the licencing of heavy vehicle drivers.

"Did you know that it takes 120 hours of instruction before you can sit for a car licence, 20 hours before you can sit a motorcycle licence and even 20 hours of instruction before you can be tested to fly a plane solo?

"However, there are no pre-set hours of on-road instruction before you can sit for a heavy vehicle licence test.

"What it does take, is just five hours of on-site training, the ability to reverse the vehicle 50 meters in a straight line and $1,000 dollars.

"And you do not even have to be able to read English."

Anderson reinforces the importance of driver training to help operators improve safety standards and boost productivity by keeping downtime to an absolute minimum.

"Heavy vehicle drivers must be trained and capable of controlling the vehicle in all conditions, at all times, and to make the right decisions that will not increase the chance of risk or accident," Anderson says.

He calls for a licensing model based on VTA’s existing hands-on training and instruction program.

"With the support of the Andrews Government, the VTA has been bringing new drivers into the industry that have spent eight days on the road under instruction," Anderson says.

"These drivers have developed skills in vehicle dynamics, road craft and attitude before they step out onto the road in a driver’s job.

"They are provided with 66 hours behind the wheel, under instruction before being able to take the licence test."

Anderson says the VTA program will assist in resetting the expectations of the transport industry about how a heavy vehicle driver is trained and, over time, improve professionalism within the industry.

"It is not acceptable any more that a driver’s qualification to operate a heavy vehicle will be based on years of experience.

"We must have competent drivers, trying to reduce the risk of accident from the very first day on the job, and for that to happen they must receive proper training.

The transport body is working with the industry and VicRoads to review the existing heavy vehicle licence assessment process, including that for licence assessors.

"We hope to see the introduction of a competency-based heavy vehicle licencing regime that will enable drivers of a younger age trained, skilled and equipped with the right attitude coming into our industry in the future," Anderson says.

Anderson also told conference delegates how better technology being introduced into heavy vehicles was helping to improve productivity for operators by minimising risk and making it easier for drivers to avoid accidents that create costly downtime.

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