A soldier turned truckie has praised the Australian Defence Force for its high standards of driver training – and hit out at driving schools in the private sector.
Sydney native David Lynch, who joined the ADF as a teenager and stayed for almost nine years, did his truck driver’s course at the Army School of Transport in Puckapunyal, Victoria back in 1985.
He went on to start his own successful trucking business, Lynch Regional Transport, which he managed for 17 years.
He still drives trucks part-time while studying for a degree in nursing, and said the skills he learned in the army have been a huge asset to him over the course of his life and career.
“Anyone who’s been in the military, you’ll find they’re a different breed from everyone else,” he said.
“It’s disciplined, it’s structured. It’s the culture, the leadership, the mentoring – those are the biggest factors why the Australian Defence Force are the best teachers of skills.
“It’s not just trucks, it’s in transport, logistics, leadership, systems. It’s the way they build you as a person.
“There’s no other structure like that, and it makes you a better employee.”
Lynch, who served in the frontline infantry battalion, said everyone in the army had to learn to drive.
“You had to do the driver’s course because it was a skill that was always needed.
“You did the Land Rover course and if you couldn’t drive manual, they sent you back to your unit. It was a prerequisite.
“Now nearly everyone who knows how to drive manual in Australia is older, and the younger ones don’t know how.
“A lot of truckies just can’t drive properly, they abuse the trucks.”
Although Lynch did his driver training a long time ago, he still remembers everything he was taught at Puckapunyal.
“You’re not just sitting behind the wheel, you’re actually getting out in the truck.
“You actually know about how to drive off-road, load restraints, regulations, compliance, and maintenance of the truck.
“You know about rules, regulations, and fitness, because that’s what driving is about.
“There’s a perception from drivers, they say ‘That’s not my job.’
“Well, it is, as dictated by the laws and regulations of the NHVR. It’s about compliance and safety.”
He hit out at registered training organisations, claiming that many of them do not provide sufficient driver training.
“With the military, if you fail your training, you fail. In the private sector, you can do a one or two-day course and they pass you because you have paid for it.
“They don’t want to fail you because you might not come back. It should never be like that.”
He shared a personal experience of a driving instructor who couldn’t care less about ensuring he had the right skills to get his MC licence.
“I had my HC licence from the army, but I still had to get my MC so I went to a driving school in the private sector,” he said.
“The instructor just said ‘Ah, you know what you’re doing, you’re fine.’
“Then he put his sunglasses on, he had his feet up on the dashboard, and he was half asleep, giving me hand signals where to go!”
Lynch said schools like these are putting “dangerous” drivers on the road and he thinks the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator needs to bring in stricter regulations.
“It comes back to compliance, and the NHVR are the ones who have got to change the regulations around it,” he continued.
“They need to say, you’ve got to go through a structured process. You can’t just go from one licence to another.
“You’ve got to show written evidence of prior experience driving, the registration of the truck, how many hours you put in driving it, what you did exactly.
“You put it all in a logbook. A competency-based assessment. People aren’t going to like it, but that’s the only way.”