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Truck driving instructor quits industry that has ‘turned to crap’

A former truck driving instructor has revealed how he’s decided to quit because of too much focus on red tape – and not enough on the standard of truck drivers that are being let loose on the roads.

Jason Kemp ran his own driver training school in Newcastle, NSW, for over a decade until he threw in the towel last September.

“The driver training side of things has absolutely turned to crap,” he told Big Rigs.

“Since they brought registered training organisations into the picture, Transport for NSW is only concerned with whether or not driving instructors are doing the right paperwork, or whether or not the customers are happy.

“They don’t seem to care whether or not the applicant can actually drive the truck.

“They will ask the applicant about what I have taught them, but no auditor has ever gotten in the truck and taken my student for a drive to see if they can do it.”

Kemp, who has been in the road transport industry his whole life, said many truck driver trainers do not have the skills or knowledge to be teaching new drivers.

“I’ve seen the way some driver trainers have secured loads on the back of a truck, and they are non-compliant.

“They have no idea what they are doing, and they are teaching others.”

He said the low standards held by some RTOs has had a clear impact on the quality of truck drivers on the roads.

“If you go to a truck stop and ask the older blokes what they think of the standard of drivers, every single one of them will tell you it’s gone to shit,” he said.

“When I started in the transport industry 30 years ago, if you pulled up on the side of the road you’d have a dozen trucks stopping to see if they could give you a hand.

“Now it’s like a competition to see how close they can get to you without smashing your mirror!”

Kemp said that on several occasions, he was made to feel like a “criminal” by Transport for NSW auditors.

“For instance, my B-double combination has two different types of wheel systems.

“My B-trailer is old-school spiders, and my A-trailer is 10 stud.

“I would teach the difference between those two and how to safely change a tyre, between those two different types of wheels.

“And I got a non-compliance because it wasn’t part of the system that they wanted taught.”

He added: “If you don’t remove a spider wheel properly and follow the procedure, you could possibly kill yourself or someone else around you.

“And those wheels are still in the industry!”

Kemp, who has now gone back to working as a truckie, wishes he quit being a driver trainer when RTOs first came in.

“I should have listened to a mate of mine who walked away when the system came in, in 2014,” he said.

“There are hundreds fewer driver trainers in NSW than there were a few years ago.

“The system is completely and utterly broken, and they won’t fix it.”

A spokesperson for Transport for NSW said that the organisation is committed to maintaining “high standards” in heavy vehicle driver training and assessment, to ensure that customers get a licence to drive heavy vehicles safely.  

“Transport for NSW adopts the National Heavy Vehicle Driver Competency Framework, which is led by Austroads,” they said.

“In addition to existing audits of registered training organisations (RTOs) delivering the Heavy Vehicle Competency Based Assessment (HVCBA), Transport enhanced its capability to deliver assurance in late 2022 by undertaking audits of the in-field Final Competency Assessment (FCA).” 

Transport for NSW adopted the RTO-based approach to delivering the HVCBA program in 2014.

This program includes both training and competency assessment for heavy vehicle licence upgrades.  

Currently, 17 RTOs are contracted by Transport for NSW to deliver the HVCBA program, with a total of 283 assessors associated with these RTOs.

All assessors need to hold a current Driving Instructor Licence relevant to the class of vehicle they are testing competency for.    

There are 15 criteria items, which include, for example: pre-operation checks, creating and maintaining crash avoidance space, and load securing.

Transport has established minimum training course times and mandates that participants log mandatory training and assessment hours before taking a final assessment.

These are as follows: five hours for a light rigid, medium rigid and heavy rigid (automatic) truck licence, six hours for a heavy rigid (manual) or a HC (automatic or manual) and eight hours for a MC licence. The final assessment should take at least 45 minutes.

6 Comments

  1. It’s always better in the old days, right? Got to say, interesting perspective from someone who was removed off the Transport NSW list of trainers for not meeting the standards of a fit and proper trainer.

  2. The easiest way to clean up the truck driver training industry is to penalise the trainer every time one of the trainees gets fined.

  3. Yet again we see people who know being told by people who don’t know how to do a job. Well done to all involved for driving another educated person from a key corner stone of the industry.
    Try this government? How about an apprenticeship for transport, lowering fines for spelling mistakes, educating your inspectors, making those responsible accountable? Oh that’s right, we spent millions of dollars to set up the NHVR for that didn’t we? No wonder people don’t want to drive or be involved with the biggest industry in the country that has NO apprenticeship, and can jump into a 68 tonne missile with very little training, so the number crunchers can look like they’re doing something positive. I live in hope that one day our industry is run by competent people who know what they’re doing, instead of ego’s and pay checks.

  4. Like all NSW laws it is only about making revenue who tests all driver instructors and who says there are weight when they take a driver for a test. and why. penalize drivers over 70 that have travelled millions of KLM without incident what needs to happen people with brains not saw dust

  5. It is the various versions of RMS, Austroads etc who set the standard.

    Did you know, under nsw rms rules, to become an instructor you need to have held your licence for 3 out of the last 4 years, and pass a course.

    There is nothing about how many hours heavy vehicle driving you need to demonstrate!!!

  6. Pity the systems not working out like it should as safety is surely number one shame on Aus heavy tans for Not compling

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