A new program is giving senior high school students the chance to sit in the truck cabin with a truckie, to better understand the challenges heavy vehicle drivers face on the road.
The program was developed by Cleary Bros. Located in the Illawarra and South Coast regions of NSW, the company is a leading provider of transport, construction, concrete, quarry product and plant hire services.
Running a fleet made predominantly of truck and dogs and agitators, Cleary Bros is looking to bridge a gap in teaching young people how to share the road safely with heavy vehicles, which isn’t taught when they go for their car licence.
Trucks & Teens is funded by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s (NHVR) Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative (HVSI), supported by the Australian Government. Cleary Bros received funding in 2021 as part of HVSI Round 6 however due to Covid restrictions, the program only started making its way into schools in October this year.
Cleary Bros compliance manager Jade Daly told Big Rigs how the idea for the program came about. “Our transport manager recalled growing up and jumping in the truck with his dad when he was younger, whereas you can’t do that now. So we came up with the idea of taking trucks to schools to expose students in that way. It’s not only about getting kids interested in driving trucks, but also about safely sharing the road with a truck,” she explained.
The first cab off the ranks was Bomaderry High School, which welcomed a truck and dog, and an agitator, onto its grounds for the program on October 13.
Cleary Bros was invited to present the Trucks & Teens program to Year 11 students as part of the school’s ‘Life Ready’ skills program.
Students learnt about the challenges facing heavy vehicle drivers on our roads, and as new drivers, what they can do to ensure the safety of themselves and our truckies. The program covered blind spots, turning room and braking distances, with all students also given the opportunity to jump in the truck and sit in the driver’s seat, with one of Cleary Bros’ drivers next to them.
“Nothing beats the reaction from the students than when they actually get to jump into the truck. They’re all given a safety brief on entering and exiting the truck, and the drivers let them toot the horn too, which they really enjoy. The driver of the truck sits in the passenger seat with them, and someone else helps them to get in and out safely. We have the blind spots marked out, so they can see what truckies see from inside the cabin,” said Daly.
“The feedback we had from students was all really positive. The only negative feedback we’ve had is that they didn’t get to drive the truck – but that obviously can’t happen!
“Students are blown away by how much extra time it takes for a truck to stop. We know it’s not always the young ones who act dangerously around trucks, but if we can educate people from a young age, it’s hopefully going to get better eventually. When it comes to being on the road, the more educated you can be, the better.”
Since the program went live, Cleary Bros has been contacting local schools and offering up the free program. Another two schools are booked in for November, and the team is hoping to lock in more schools throughout December and into the new year.
“We would love to get the program into more schools and have issued invitations to 34 schools in our area. The outcome we’re aiming towards is for the program to be launched nationally, so that other transport businesses can run it at their local schools too,” Daly added.
“It’s a free program and we’re hoping to get as many schools as we can taking it on.”