Some training organisations reckon driver testing is inadequate for trucking industry needs, especially when drivers go through their first step into the truck driving world, the step up from car to HR licence. At this point many will have had minimal experience handling large machinery or how such a large vehicle performs on the road, especially in an emergency situation.
To address the problem Armstrongs Driver Education recently published a discussion paper in which it laid out the problem to the Victorian Government. The aim is to get the rules changed in Victoria to get licence requirements amended to include some serious on road experience before being given a pass.
“The role of the heavy vehicle licensing should be to provide licence applicants with all the skills, knowledge, and training in order to permit that applicant to have the capacity to drive a heavy vehicle in a safe and low risk manner,” says the discussion paper. “Given that heavy vehicle licensing services are consumed primarily by those wanting to enter the road transport industry, heavy vehicle licensing should also adequately prepare licensing applicants by ensuring that they receive adequate ‘behind the wheel’ (BTW) training in those driving environments that they are likely to be exposed to on a daily basis.”
Armstrongs point out the current system is flawed due to a number of factors. It reckons the objective of heavy vehicle licensing not clear, national competencies are easily negated and the varying capabilities of accredited providers give rise to a non-standardised training outcome
This has led to negative consumer perceptions about licensing and its function.
“Declining training standards have only increased the skills gap between newly licenced drivers and the needs of the road transport industry,” says the discussion paper. “As a result, the road transport industry is unable to fully commercialise on the thousands of newly licenced drivers each quarter because those drivers are unable to meet minimum ‘driving experience’ pre-requisites imposed by industry as a protection against poorly trained, and unskilled, newly licenced drivers.”
The discussion paper points to the United States of America and Canada, two countries which have recently moved to implement minimum behind the wheel training times to ensure newly licenced drivers are adequately trained. This change removes the consumer’s ability to select a training provider based purely on cost and course length.
Armstrongs calls for licencing authorities to implement minimum behind the wheel training timeframes to arrest at once the declining training standards. It also asks the Victorian Government to commission a review, not unlike that conducted into motorcycle training and licensing, into heavy vehicle licence training and assessment in order to establish the minimum behind the wheel training timeframes required by a person to achieve the capacity to drive a heavy vehicle in safe and low risk manner and increase road safety.