Career News, Careers & Training, Features

The HV Safe Driver Project

The ongoing commentary about the time-based driver licensing process and the varying standards of heavy vehicle driver training around the country highlights one major issue.

Under the current licensing and training systems, there is no system for newly licenced drivers to gain the essential on-road experience to be considered safe and job ready.

The new drivers gaining licences under the current regime are often not considered suitable for employment due to limited on-road experience, poor quality of training and little or no safety knowledge.

To improve the safety and competency of newly licenced drivers, in 2023 the QTA launched the Heavy Vehicle Safe Driver Program (HVSD). The program is funded through the Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative (HVSI) from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), supported by the Australian Government.

The HVSD Program provides multiple benefits to both employers and to drivers by providing a training framework focussed on embedding driving skill and safety knowledge in an on-road environment.

For employers, it offers a training program that develops safe ‘job-ready’ drivers and a wage subsidy to offset the cost of the supervising driver mentor. For newly licenced or inexperienced drivers, the program offers employment and training through a structured program that includes 160 hours of on-road driving and practical application of safety knowledge and competencies.

Brendan Calloon from Russell Transport. Image: QTA

The program is unique in the way that the stakeholders are engaged into the program. The employer, driver training and driving mentor are all part of the program orientation where the expectation of the program is set.

This ensures that everyone is aware of the expectations in the program and suitability of the driver mentor. The skill level, knowledge and mindset of the driver mentor is integral to the participant’s success.

Another point of difference is the inclusion of an independent pre and post program assessment of driving skill and demonstration of safety knowledge both on and off the road. The pre-program assessment is used as a benchmarking tool to determine the driver’s skill and safety knowledge level.

Feedback is provided to the driver on areas for improvement and gaps in safety knowledge. This pre-program assessment benefits the employer in identifying strengths and limitations in current training practices and offers driver mentor’s insight into their instructional ability.

The post-program assessment includes demonstration of practical skills and knowledge associated with situational awareness, hazard perception, risk avoidance, resilience and problem solving and compliance with the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).

Upon completion of the program, the employer is paid a wage subsidy to offset the cost of the driver mentor who is providing the training instruction.

Participants can enter the program via an employer or through the Expression of Interest. All participants must be able to satisfy the conditions of employment and undergo any required screening and testing as required by the employer.

QTA CEO, Gary Mahon said, “The success of the program is evident as we have employers now actively recruiting inexperienced drivers. The rigour of the independent pre and post program driving and knowledge assessments is producing more competent and safer drivers who are job-ready.”

This type of program is an industry first and effectiveness of the program is being evaluated by Dr Darren Wishart from Griffith University.

How to apply

Employers who would like to enrol newly employed HR or HC drivers through the program can contact the QTA by emailing or calling 0405 152 952.

Interested driver applicants can apply via the QTA website –

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