Heavy vehicle licencing out of step

Peter Anderson speaks at the Technical Maintenance conference 2017.
Peter Anderson speaks at the Technical Maintenance conference 2017.

THE VICTORIAN Transport Association has labelled current heavy vehicle training requirements as out of step with other modes of transport.   

Speaking at the Technical Maintenance Conference in Melbourne VTA CEO Peter Anderson has said changed need to be made to improve standards, safety and reduce risk.   

In opening remarks Mr Anderson reinforced the importance of driver training to help operators improve their 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. Regrettably, the industry does not have a good record in training drivers, partially because there is very little funding support for it. In fact, there is very little training for drivers at all except for on the job experience," he said. 

"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," Mr Anderson said.

Mr Anderson advocated for a licensing model based on the hands-on training and instruction the Association is providing in conjunction with the Victorian Government.

"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.

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," he said.

Mr Anderson said 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," he said.

The VTA and transport industry is also working in Victoria with VicRoads on the current heavy vehicle licence assessment process.

Applying the same principles of extended instruction behind the wheel before sitting a licence, the process for licence assessors is also under review.

"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," Mr Anderson said.

Mr 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.  

Are current heavy vehicle licence requirements enough?

This poll ended on 13 November 2017.

Current Results





This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

How many hours of instruction should an individual complete before they sit for their heavy rigid licence?

This poll ended on 17 November 2017.

Current Results

0 hours


20 hours


50 hours


100 hours


This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Topics:  heavy vehicles trucks

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