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Driver licensing concerns logged at Senate inquiry

Truckies’ peak training body has doubled down on its call for an urgent overhaul of the driver licensing system.

In a submission to the recent Sydney round of the Senate inquiry into the road transport industry, the Australian Driver Trainers Association (ADTA) said the national approach to licensing is too disjointed, and the education for both applicant and instructor is woefully inadequate.

Lead author Mick Humphries, General Manager of ADTA, told the committee that new drivers are being “churned” out of driving schools in as little as half a day.

“This includes drivers of B-doubles. I have spoken to a number of QLD license applicants that have upgraded from Class HR to MC in a group of three applicants in 5 hours….for the lot,” he said his detailed submission.

“A worrying, worrying outcome. We see groups of applicants that aren’t equipped to be put onto the road.”

Some of the shortfalls and issues that he has discovered include:

• Grossly insufficient training times (cost driven)

• Non-compliance with video and assessor separation requirements

• Unladen/under-laden training vehicles

• Vehicles used are non representative of the license class

He also told the inquiry that the pool of assessors is becoming polarised, with one group committed road safety professionals supported by an RTO with a good understanding of the industry, and the other not equipped with the methodology required to produce good drivers.

“They run fleets of old technology trucks and every client is assessed in the absolute minimum time to the bare bones level,” he said.

“These assessors generally struggle to even measure/determine competence.”

He added that the financial interest between RTO’s and assessors needs strutiny.

“Many RTO’s offer no auditing, no professional development and no support. If we were back in the VET space they would be 100 per cent required to offer this support under their agreement with the national skills regulator.”

Humphries goes on to recommend to the committee that Austoads develop and set a curriculum for the process of upgrading a license with expanded skills that reflect the task to be performed after obtaining new and upgraded qualifications.

He also suggests the following steps:

1. A reasonable time frame to allow for skills development accompany the curriculum.

2. The concept of “tenure” be removed and a meaningful and relevant measure of both experience and skill be substituted and reinforced by provision of evidence of relevant industry experience.

3. The the state regulators not be permitted to conduct Heavy Vehicle license assessments unless the regulator staff meet all the requirements of VET assessors

4. That the scheme be fully immersed into, or fully removed from the VET space.

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