What to look for in a heavy vehicle driver training organisation

Now sure, we are a driving training organisation, so the points made in this post will be benchmarked against what we believe should be the industry standard. It will also allow us the opportunity to highlight some of the strong points of our organisation. That being said, the points made and suggested questions to ask, will certainly help students when shopping around between providers, and may assist in securing a fair deal on quality training.

My motive for this post came from a student of ours commenting in conversation on why he chose us for his training. He said to me that he had phoned around a few places and explained to those who served him that he had (a) never reversed a trailer (b) he was very inexperienced at driving trucks, and (c) is a really nervous person. All the people who took his calls made it sound too easy, he claimed, and he believed (rightly so) that their offers were probably too good to be true. Fortunately for him, he was smart enough to know when he was being taken for a ride. Sadly, many students fall for these “too good to be true” offers, and many leave disappointed, with very little to show for their course fee. He made comments that he was sold on our honesty, and we were the only company that made it clear that he would probably need more time (compared to the average student), to complete the licence assessment, based on his over-the-phone training needs analysis.

So, what to look for and what questions to ask when shopping around?

1) Will the company provide a written (emailed) quotation, detailing all fees payable, and the amount of hours included in the package price?

2) Does the company allow for the agreed course hours to be carried over to another training date, if the training is too much to be absorbed in one whole day?

3) Does the organisation have a clearly defined, accessible, and reasonable refund policy?

4) Is the company a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) and an RMS Accredited Provider of Heavy Vehicle Competency Based Assessment (HVCBA), or do they partner with one?

5) What is the age of the truck/s the company provides for training?

6)  How well does the trainer communicate in English?

7) Do their trainers use session plans?

8) Does the company provide access to appeals and complaints forms?

9) Does the company provide a genuine list of testimonials of students?

10) How many years of experience in the training industry has the company got?

11) Is the company serious about safety?

At Alltruck Driver Training, all students receive an emailed quote at the point of an email enquiry, and a booking conformation reconfirming the course fees. Both enquiry and booking conformation include a clearly defined amount of hours the student is entitled to receive to achieve their licence. Our allowance for training hours often exceeds the average amount of time needed to achieve the competent standard and complete the program. We agree to supply “up to” an amount of hours, as to increase the likelihood that students will succeed, and leave us satisfied.

At Alltruck Driver Training course hours can be carried over to another training date, if it suits the applicants progression towards success, or if it is in the interest of Work Health and Safety (fatigue management). A condition we impose is that course credit must be consumed within 6 months from enrolment, as detailed in our refund policy. Another condition is the course hours are personal and non-transferable to any other student, and that the credit is only to be used towards the course that the student is enrolled in, and expires at the time when the student has successfully completed the training program.

At Alltruck Driver Training we have our refund policy posted on the Home and FAQ pages of our website, and in our student handbook, and send it to each student in our booking conformation. We have a very fair policy, written in plain English, which has been audited by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA). We often rule in favour of the student, contrary to our refund policy. This includes matters such as a late cancellation due to genuine sickness, sicknesses or deaths in the family, mistakes made by the RMS when issuing logbooks, etc. We don’t compromise when students don’t show up for training because they simply slept in; that is not acceptable in the workplace, and is not acceptable at our training organisation either.

Alltruck Driver Training is an RTO and an RMS Accredited Provider of Heavy Vehicle Competency Based Assessment (HVCBA). We genuinely believe that being an RTO improves our quality, and significantly influences our approach to student satisfaction. We are at the forefront of assessment validity, with a direct line of contact with the RMS. We engage with the RMS on matters including: ambiguities, errors, suggested improvements, and/or areas which are reasonably likely to cause difficulties or delays in carrying out assessments. Our trainers speak with other trainers who are partnered with RTOs, and are amazed at how confused they are on matters such as compliance, and assessment procedures. Our staff training/induction system is simple: Internal training and induction – moderation and internal audit – validation, continuous improvement and professional development. As an RTO we effectively engage the industry, and we set out to contextualise our training to meet the needs of the drivers of today.

At Alltruck Driver Training we use a combination of near new (we purchased a brand new Heavy Rigid vehicle in 2010) and mid to late 90’s vehicles. We have four vehicles, and for us to have a fleet of brand new vehicles would require that we charge more than the market is willing to pay. We cost-benefit-analyse our equipment, and sell off and purchase based on the analysis. All our vehicles are well maintained, with a recent addition of two brand new Isri seats in one of our trucks, at a cost of over $5500. We have plans to purchase another brand new truck in the near future. We often hear horror stories of sub-par quality training vehicles, with issues such as wandering steering, faulty gearboxes, etc. Vehicle age is not the most important issue, but something to factor in.

At Alltruck Driver Training all of our trainers speak fluent English, and provide very clear instruction.

At Alltruck Driver Training all trainers have continuously revised session plans, which can be contextualised to your needs.

At Alltruck Driver Training all student receive an appeal and compliant form in their student handbook. We are very proud of the fact that (at the time of writing) no student has ever appealed or complained.

On the Alltruck Driver Training website, we proudly display a rapidly growing list of satisfied students comments (see here)

Our family company has been in the driver training industry since approximately 1980. We’ve had a few name changes in our 30 plus year history.

At Alltruck Driver Training, we are serious about safety and we do require that safety clothing (high visablity Vest/Shirt/Jacket/Jumper) is to be worn at all times during the training (we supply a vest if you do not own one or forget to bring your own). A Work Safety Analysis gets completed at the start of every program. Work Health and Safety is a standing agenda item in staff meetings. All staff have participated in the development of a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) relative to the training and assessment activity.

Criteria 3 – Start, move off, shut down and secure

It is only the early days of the ‘new’ 2013 HVCBA system, and our team of trainers are starting to see a trend emerging. Criteria 3 – Start, move off, shut down and secure, is a very memory intensive assessment task for students to perform unaided. We strongly recommend that students memorise the following procedures BEFORE commencing training/assessment. We will train you on these procedures on the training day, but students who have memorised these procedures, will have more time to focus on arguably more technical tasks, like Reversing. Some of the steps listed below may not be applicable to the assessment vehicle that you’re assessed in.

Call 1300 521 289 to speak with a trainer, if you need any help.

Criteria 3 – Start, move off, shut down and secure

3.1 Start Engine
The applicant must in accordance with the vehicle manufacturer’s guidelines and specifications:

o  Ensure park brake is applied.
o  Ensure auxiliary braking systems are turned off.
o  Ensure gearbox is in neutral/park (auto).
o  In a diesel heavy vehicle, check engine stop mechanism is in the start position (if fitted): switch on start heater (if fitted and required) allow to warm (if required)
o  Engage the clutch (if not fitted with an air assisted clutch and air pressure is low).
o  Switch on the ignition.
o  Activate the starter.

3.2 Instruments & gauges
The applicant must check the following items:

o  Fuel, oil pressure, alternator, temperature, tachometer, voltmeter, air pressure.
o  Monitoring devices (warning lights, air pressure warning system, buzzers).
o  Service brake (move vehicle forward then apply the service brake).
o The Park brake and ensure it is on.*
o  The Trailer brake.*

* When using a low gear bring the clutch to friction point and apply load to the park brake or trailer brake as required.
Note: The applicant must be asked to support their checking with a commentary to demonstrate why they are undertaking the check of each item.

3.3 Move off
The applicant must:

o  Ensure all the doors are shut.
o  Depress the clutch; select the appropriate gear (manual).
o  Place the foot on the brake, select drive (auto) or the appropriate pre-selection range.
o  Check the mirrors (right and left).
o  Indicate for a minimum of 5 seconds.
o  Apply the appropriate power.
o  Release the clutch to friction point & hold.
o  Check all the mirrors and blind spot.
o  Release the park/trailer brake.
o  Engage the clutch.
o  Accelerate smoothly.
o  Steer the vehicle away from kerb.
o  Cancel the indicator.

3.4 Return to kerb
The applicant must:

o  Check all mirrors.
o  Indicate.
o  Apply the service brake.
o  Depress the clutch, slightly above stalling.
o  Stop smoothly, parallel & close to the kerb but not over hanging the kerb.
o  Apply the park brake.
o  Select neutral in a manual and park in an auto.
o  Release the clutch and the foot brake.
o  Cancel the indicator.
o  Open the passenger door (bus only) (if operable from Driver’s seat).

3.5 Shut down Vehicle
The applicant must:

o  Apply the park brake.
o  Select neutral in a manual and park in an auto.
o  Check the operational gauges.
o  Allow the engine to idle (if required).
o  Activate the engine stop mechanism to stop (if fitted).
o  Turn off the engine.
o  Switch off the ignition.

3.6 Secure vehicle
The applicant must:

o  Check that the park brake is applied.
o  Remove the key.
o  Check for traffic (by mirror or head check) before opening the door.
o  Use step, footholds and grab handles if fitted to the vehicle. Must not use the steering wheel for support.
o  Exit backwards by using the available steps and grab handles and not jump to the ground while at all times maintaining three 3 points of contact.
o  Secure the door.
o  Leave the cab area by walking in a safe direction.

Source: RMS Publication – A guide to Heavy Vehicle Competency Based Assessment – October 2012

Wheel Nut Indictors

In a recent staff meeting, it was raised that we needed a solution that allowed for easy inspection of our vehicles wheel nuts, and a solution has been found.

We have purchase and fitted yellow indictors that will assist in daily walk-round inspection, defect reporting and scheduled maintenance requirements. Their use allows accurate monitoring for loose wheel nuts and helps prevent wheel hub damage or the loss of a wheel, should a wheel nut loosen. An additional safety feature of the indicator is that they are heat sensitivity, when higher than normal operational temperature are reached the indicator is designed to melt indicating an imminent bearing failure or brake issues.

We are 50% through the roll out with all vehicle to be fitted in the coming weeks.