Austroads is encouraging drivers, employers and trainers to have their say on proposed changes to heavy vehicle driver licensing in Australia.
The changes are documented in a Consultation Regulator Impact Statement (C-RIS) which seeks feedback on proposed changes to the National Heavy Vehicle Driver Competency Framework (NHVDCF).
At the request of transport ministers, Austroads has been undertaking an extensive program of work to review and improve the NHVDCF.
Four key areas of change have been proposed in the review the first of which is the need to manage individual driver risk ensuring only drivers without serious driving offences are eligible to hold a heavy vehicle licence.
Making competency requirements specific to each licence class based on strengthening skill and knowledge in addition to setting minimum course length, and recognising the extra skill needed to drive the most complex vehicles.
Austroads also recommended that embedding behind-the-wheel experience requiring minimum behind-the-wheel time pre-licence and supervised driving sessions post-licence; and introducing experience-based progression options enabling those drivers who can demonstrate driving and work experience to progress to higher licence classes more rapidly.
The review, according to Austroads, aims to deliver a harmonised Australian license training and assessment framework that produces safe and competent heavy vehicle drivers, and reflects the current and future needs of heavy vehicle operators and the future freight task.
Austroads Chief Executive, Geoff Allan, said that effective driver licensing is the answer to Australia’s demands.
“With a growing freight task and changing vehicle fleet, Australia needs a lot of well-trained and capable heavy vehicle drivers,” he said.
“Industry feedback, emerging research and evidence suggest we should prioritise strengthening driver competencies, skills assessment, and licensing policy,” he added.
According to Allan, the proposed changes will help increase the number of heavy vehicle drivers to combat country-wide shortages.
“The driver shortage is a broader problem than licensing alone can fix,” he said.
“But the proposed changes have been developed so that there are faster ways to progress through heavy vehicle licence classes,” continued Allan.
“Making the pathway to licences faster may help expand the pool of drivers, and the improved competency standards should make new drivers more job-ready.”