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 Regulation Impact Statement (C-RIS) which seeks feedback on proposed changes to the National Heavy Vehicle Driver Competency Framework. The framework was endorsed by ministers in 2011 but has only been implemented in four states and territories.
At the request of transport ministers, Austroads has been undertaking an extensive program of work to review and improve the NHVDCF. Austroads’ review aims to deliver a harmonised Australian licence 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.
“With a growing freight task and changing vehicle fleet, Australia needs a lot of well-trained and capable heavy vehicle drivers. That starts with effective driver licensing,” said Geoff Allan, Austroads chief executive.
“Industry feedback, emerging research and evidence suggest we should prioritise strengthening driver competencies, skills assessment, and licensing policy. National Cabinet has expressed a desire for fast-track licence progression.”
Four key areas of change are proposed:
- Managing individual driver risk ensuring only drivers without serious driving offences are eligible to hold a heavy vehicle licence.
- Strengthening skill and knowledge making competency requirements specific to each licence class, setting minimum course length, and recognising the extra skill needed to drive the most complex vehicles.
- Embedding behind-the-wheel experience requiring minimum behind-the-wheel time pre-licence and supervised driving sessions post-licence.
- Introducing experience-based progression options enabling those drivers who can demonstrate driving and work experience to progress to higher licence classes more rapidly.
“This is a particularly challenging time for employers and we know industry is hoping that any proposed changes will help to increase the number of drivers,” added Allan.
“The driver shortage is a broader problem than licensing alone can fix. But the proposed changes have been developed so that there are faster ways to progress through heavy vehicle licence classes. 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.”
The C-RIS is out for comment until October 28. Input and views are important, and all suggestions will be considered.
Click here to download the C-RIS, access fact sheets and videos summarising the proposals and provide feedback.
You can also sign up here for an online consultation briefing on Wednesday, September 14, from 1-2pm.