Opinion

Driver licensing system needs an urgent review

After spending two days in the last few weeks with members of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator Prosecution team and learning more about Enforceable Undertakings (EUs), I was very impressed with the continuing work the NHVR is doing to engage with the trucking industry. 

During these seminars we had many questions from the floor and many anecdotes; a majority of these were about licensing which is not under the auspices of the NHVR, but Belinda Hughes and Dallas Henderson tried to give as much information as possible. 

One aspect that came up repeatedly, is that the licensing laws need a review; that the people doing the licence testing need to be better trained; the training schools themselves need to be better accredited, and the driver training itself needs to be overhauled. 

I don’t think anyone in the industry will disagree that there is a lot of inadequacies in the industry, from the driver training to the driver licensing to the driver testing, especially when doing the driver testing or the re-testing for older drivers.

Some of the testers are in the first few months of their career and have no knowledge of heavy vehicles. In some instances quoted it appeared that they were actually breaking the law when conducting the driving tests. 

Where do we go from here? Where do we make a formal complaint? Who follows it up? Who wouldn’t want more safety on our roads? This is where we have to start – at the beginning not after drivers have an accident. 

Belinda Hughes, NHVR chief prosecutor, was a riveting keynote speaker at our Dubbo breakfast.

As always, we had complaints about logbook fines and everybody knows how I feel about them, with all the different rules for rest, counting and working and so forth; but for anybody who needs help with this, the NHVR has a Helpline which I have used on several occasions with great success. 

There was concern within the audience that if you contacted the Helpline and told them you had a problem and spoke about that problem with them, that this would lead to an investigation of your company. 

I find that nothing could be further from the truth, they just wanted to help you get it right and then make sure that they fix it. 

They are not looking to go back to what has been happening, they say you’ve identified the problem and now you’re going to fix it. If they were going to then come down on you, no one will contact the helpline. 

I advise anybody who has an issue and needs help to contact the NHVR. I have done so and received the help I needed from the amazing staff who monitor this Helpline. 

It is there for your convenience, so take advantage of it. It is another way that the NHVR is there to engage with the industry and they do this really well. I think everybody in the audience was really interested in learning about EUs and what they mean.  

I learned from the examples shown the different ways they could be enacted and this is a much better outcome for our industry than just prosecuting. 

Under an EU, money is put into safety and education to benefit all of our industry, by making these undertakings, we are encouraging companies to think about better safety initiatives for all. 

Of course, all of our Transport Women Australia Limited IWD events were not so serious, we just had some fun and some amazing speakers at Melbourne, Sydney and Wollongong dinners. 

We would like to thank the speakers, for giving up their time to share their stories. We now look forward with great anticipation to our conference in June and the expansion of our initiatives and the launch of our new initiatives in the coming months. 

We will be at the Careers Expo at Oran Park next month and the Hands On Trades Career Expo at Winton Raceway in May. 

For information about Transport Women Australia Limited, its initiatives or events, please contact chair@transportwomen.com.au or call 0417422319.

Jacquelene Brotherton is the chair of Transport Women Australia. 

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