‘Too many truck drivers aren’t receiving enough training’

Long-time MC truck driver Corrina Riley is now turning her hand to driver training, in the hope of helping to bridge a skills gap that’s becoming more and more prevalent on the highways.

It’s not the first time Riley has used her experience on the road to train others, on several occasions, she’s taken other drivers under her wing, allowing them to join her on long distance two-up runs to help further their skills.

Based in Brisbane, she says the move into driver training hasn’t come out of the blue. It’s something she’s been passionate about for a long time. She was able to take that to the next step when a friend named Joanne Cartwright, who owns a business called Town and Country, gave her the opportunity to utilise her fleet of trucks.

“A lot of truck drivers stress about other drivers when they’re out on the road. There are car drivers who don’t know how to properly share the road with trucks, and truck drivers who haven’t received enough training,” said Riley, who plans to offer training from cars through to heavy combination trucks.

“The issue is that some of these truck drivers just haven’t received the proper training – instead they’re signed off – tick and flick. If we can train people to share the road properly from the beginning, when they first get their car licence, it makes it better for everyone on the road.

Riley believes more targeted training is needed for drivers before moving up to bigger truck combinations with more trailers. “There’s just not enough time taken to train new drivers. You can’t learn everything you need for your MC licence in two days. I think training should be spread over multiple weeks or make it that drivers need to complete 100 or more hours of training, like what they have to do to get their car licence,” she said.

Corrina and Sean head out on the road for training. Image: Corrina Riley

According to Riley, upgrading from a HC to MC licence in two days is simply unacceptable. “And one of those days is spent in the classroom, so you’re only getting five to six hours in the truck, then you’re sent out on the highway.

“I think you should have to have your HR for 12 months, then your HC for 12 months, before being able to upgrade to your MC, to give you a bit of experience on the road before adding on another trailer. I know there are a lot of people who won’t like that and it’s a lot of money but you’d prefer to have experience on the road than drivers who’ve just paid the few hundred bucks to upgrade their licence.”

The training she’s offering will incorporate things like coupling, uncoupling, loading, logbooks and fatigue management.

“Coupling and uncoupling is a big one. It’s very rare for a trailer to just detach and yet you see these issues where people are dropping trailers. That’s usually driver error, because the driver isn’t double checking and rechecking the pin – they don’t just come undone. People need to start from the bottom and learn these things from scratch,” explained Riley.

In Riley’s opinion, a lack of comradery is only further adding to the problem out on the road. “I’ve seen it before when people either don’t have their radio on or they aren’t listening to it, because they’re always being abused. Everyone needs to be nicer to each other and just get along. Communication on the radio is important because it can forewarn you about things coming up ahead.

“And if someone is broken down on the side of the road, ask if they’re okay. You don’t see that very much anymore.”

Another issue Riley points to is that most businesses don’t allow parents to take kids in their trucks. “That’s meant we’ve lost two generations of truck drivers. Some smaller companies allow kids in their trucks, but a lot of the bigger ones don’t.

“My son was driving a car on our property when he was seven and started learning to drive a truck when he was nine. He was already backing a trailer onto a dock at strawberry farms at nine and a half. Now he’s 13. He’ll get into the industry somewhere, as he loves trucks.”


  1. The whole issue of training is so different from 45 years ago when I got my licence. I got my HR in a local Farmers truck (so he could have me delivering grain to the silo at harvest) Then I spent weeks off & on in the passages seat of local Cocky Carriers Semi helping load Wool, then sit there all night it seemed to delivering at the City Wool stores, then back-loading with bagged fertiliser.
    Thing is growing up in the bush & wanting to drive trucks was so much easier than being a city boy with no experience & wanting it handed to you on a plate with today’s prescriptive graduated driver licencing is fundamentally flawed.
    I see 2 different kinds elder statesmen of the industry today, some have forgotten where they came from & that there’s those among us that remember the way they ran their business back in the day. Then there’s the one’s that have never forgotten what it is like to be behind the wheel.
    Unfortunately it’s the former group that tend nowadays to speak like they have the answers just because of their longevity in the industry that are running the organisations that government listen to. For those, I say step out of your suits & back in the real world seat for a while and remember.

  2. what has stopped drivers taking their kids with them is insurance. the insurers will only want to cover employees of the business no one else. yes owner drivers can do it its their own vehicle. but still they may have a issue with the insurer.

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