The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has called for a review of truck driver licence training, saying the quality of training and assessment is highly variable. It also believes a review of driver licensing in general is overdue.
The ATA’s suggestion appears reasonable after a recent spate of tunnel accidents caused by truck driver error. And then there was that Sydney M5 fiasco in February where drivers of a B-double caused traffic chaos because they didn’t know how to reverse the truck to get it out of trouble.
But is the ATA over-reacting? Are these occurrences just a handful of incidents among thousands of daily journeys that occur without incident?
ATA National Manager Government Relations and Policy, Bill McKinley, told the Aspects of Road Safety in Australia Senate Inquiry last week (Friday 25 March 2016) there lacked a commitment to consistent licencing in the trucking industry.
While he praised “many excellent trainers”, McKinley was quick to point out that others “train to a price, or guarantee how long the course will take, regardless of how competent you are at the end of it.”
McKinley said transport operators had particular concerns about the variable quality of training in chain of responsibility, load restraint, fatigue management and work health and safety.
“What we need for heavy vehicle driver licencing is a common set of standards that the States or the NHVR apply. The standards need to be imposed by a body that is responsive to feedback,” he told the Inquiry.
He asked that the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development and the Minister for Education and Training jointly review the States’ training, assessment and licensing arrangements for truck drivers.
Road-user safety in general
The ATA also recommended to the Inquiry that a review be held into the provisions that allow overseas licence-holders to drive in Australia.
McKinley pointed to the bewildering licensing ‘loophole’ currently in three jurisdictions (SA, WA and ACT) where it’s possible for an overseas licence-holder to apply for an Australian drivers licence, fail the driving test but keep driving on their overseas licence, “even though they just demonstrated conclusively that they are not competent to drive in Australia.”
He was also critical of the varying time limits States impose on overseas-licensed drivers to gain an Australian drivers licence. McKinley believes drivers should have to obtain an Australian licence within a year, even if they are only in Australia temporarily.
“At present, every State except the NT allows temporary visitors to drive on their overseas licence indefinitely. This could be for years,” McKinley said.
Finally, he said overseas licence-holders should be banned from driving heavy vehicles unless they had the appropriate Australian heavy vehicle licence.
All in the name of safety
Can any industry be over-trained on safety?
Many would agree that suggestions to improve safety on our roads should be investigated but at what cost? Would you be prepared to pay more for additional driver training, for instance?
Do you agree with the ATA’s statements? Would consistent driver training and licensing make the roads safer not just for the transport industry but for all road-users, which is the objective of CoR Laws?
Were you even aware of the licensing discrepancies between jurisdictions? Do all your drivers, and your contractors’ drivers, hold the appropriate licences?
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Written and complied by transport lawyer at Holding Redlich, Geoff Farnsworth, as well as articles from regular industry experts, CoR Adviser keeps you up to date with the many changes this industry is currently experiencing.
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