Primary brake and low gear areas

Are truck drivers ever permitted to use primary (service/foot) brakes in low gear areas like Mt Ousley?

Road Rules 2014 (NSW) s 108(1) requires:

If the driver of a truck or bus is driving on a length of road to which a trucks and buses low gear sign applies, the driver must drive the truck or bus in a gear that is low enough to limit the speed of the truck or bus without the use of a primary brake.

If law enforcement requires that the primary brake is not to be used in this context, it is my view that there may be an absurdity in the drafting of this statute. To clarify this point, if a truck driver is maintaining, for example, 35 km/h in a low gear section of road, using a low gear and engine brake, and without the need of the primary brake, the driver may have complied with this law. However, if that same driver in the same context approaches another vehicle from behind, travelling less than 35 km/h, the situation would be such that without the use of the primary brake a collision may occur.

The ordinary and plain meaning of the words ‘without the use of a primary brake’ suggests that the primary brakes are prohibited from use in the low gear signed area.

Unless I am mistaken, the mischief that the statute is enacted to address is to prevent excessive use of the primary brake, which may lead to overheating and brake failure.

It is my view that a judge may consider a statutory provision that prohibits an action to prevent an accident as absurd and manifestly wrong. Hence, if a judge agreed, he or she may resort to a Golden Rule means of statutory interpretation to avoid the absurdity. This is because ‘by inadvertence parliament has overlooked an eventuality’ of this statutory provision, as offered by McHugh JA’s comments in Bermingham v Corrective Services Commission of New South Wales. Moreover, it is also reasonable to consider that a judge may arrive at the purpose of the statute by other, perhaps more modern, means.

I cannot accept that it is the intention of the parliament to enact an unqualified prohibition of use of the primary brake, without reconciling the issue of slower moving obstacles in front of the low-geared vehicle. It appears that case law that has tested the statutory construction of  ‘without the use of a primary brake’ does not exist.

It is irrational to think that police or inspectors would sanction drivers in this unreasonable context. However, it appears that industry do not accept that law enforcement are trusted to only apply the rule in the excessive use context, hence the concerns raised in recent times.

Michael Sciberras

Michael is the Chief Executive Officer at ALLTRUCK DRIVER TRAINING. He has 16 years of heavy vehicle training and assessment experience, and is currently studying law at the University of New England.

Disclaimer – This article must not be relied up for legal purposes.

Changes to truck licensing expected

The revised Heavy Vehicle Competency Based Assessment (HVCBA) provider agreement is its final stages of revision, and it is expected to be ready for comment in early May with providers set to sign up following that. This agreement is the agreement that providers have with the RMS to offer heavy vehicle licensing to the public.

No one knows for sure exactly what changes will be made to the heavy vehicle licensing process in NSW, but there are a few contenders:

Separation of training and assessment – clause 4.2(d)

About 4 years ago, this infamous change saw 20 years of privatised heavy vehicle licensing turned on its head with a requirement for a different assessor to conduct the final assessment. This requires two assessors to conduct an assessment on one candidate. This policy brought significant hardship to regional parts of the state, and consequently, variations where provided to the rule on a needs basis. It is speculated by some in the industry that adjustments to this rule will occur, and there is a chance the policy will be dropped entirely.

Video recording of criteria

Currently, the video recording is only of the Final Competency Assessment (FCA), which is the final assessment of the driving elements of the course. This final drive does not include criteria such as load securing, reversing, coupling and uncoupling, and pre checks, thus these criteria are not captured on the video recording. There is some speculation that the RMS considers this to be too big a risk, and therefore may consider requiring all criteria be video recorded.

Adjustment of required hours for licence candidate

For decades, industry groups have pushed for an increase to the minimum course times for truck driver training programs. Some speculate that the release of this new contract might see a long anticipated adjustment to the hours a licence candidate is required to undertake before achieving a licence. Historically, RMS has appeared careful not to impose more than the minimum on candidates and this position has been seen as reasonable as the public are entitled to receive recognition for experiences and acquired skills. Change in this space equals increases in course fees.

Executives at ALLTRUCK DRIVER TRAINING are participating in the scheme review process, and will be signing the new contract when it becomes available.

Change can bring an increase in course fees, and will bring significant increases if the hours of the courses are increased. Our recommendation is to upgrade your licence in the very near future if you wish to do it at today’s prices.

Call us for assistance 1300521289

80 year old gets a truck licence

About a year ago we were first contacted by an 80 year old gentleman named Michael who was required to pass a aged driver test to keep his Heavy Combination (HC) driver licence.

A member of our team politely questioned Michael’s reasons to not surrender his truck licence,  and Michael declared that he ‘just wanted to keep it’. Our team conceded that it was none of our business to question Michael’s motives, so proceeded to book him in.

We are delighted to report that, after some intensive training from us, Michael passed the aged driver.

Thinking of dealing with a dodgy truck licence assessor? Think again…

It is embarrassing that I am able to even find content for this article but the truth is that there is a minority of the training industry who think that it is acceptable to not follow the rules or outright engage in corrupt behaviours.

We link to the following recent cases of alleged damaging misconduct without prejudice:

250 heavy vehicle licences were cancelled in Queensland in 2018 due to not meeting the assessment standards.

678 heavy vehicle licences suspended in Western Australia in 2017 due to an allegedly corrupt assessor.

95 heavy vehicle licence holders were deem as falsely certified as competent in New South Wales, as identified in a 2013 ICAC inquiry.

650 heavy vehicle licence holders had to resit their licence test in Victoria in 2012, due to an assessor signing dodgy certificates required by drivers to get a licence.

Heavy vehicle licensing is a serious business, and when not done right the risks are that public safety is put at risk. Second to that are the negative affects that come when the authorities eventually catchup with the dodgy operators, and cancelling the licences.

“People involved in the practice of improper heavy vehicle licensing bring the training industry into disrepute and compromise the quality and reputation of the transport industry”

Dodgy truck licence assessors compete on an un-leveled playing field with honest and proper truck licence assessors for work. Sadly, a path to least resistance is desirable for many licence candidates, and the results for these cheap and low-quality assessors is that business is a boomin’.

The facts are though that quality will always beat supply and whilst it often takes the authorities sometime to catch up with them, these dangerous low quality providers often come unstuck.

We urge heavy vehicle licence candidates to consider the negitive consequences of dealing with a low-quality heavy vehicle licence assessor.

There are a few things that a heavy vehicle licence candidate can consider when shopping around for a provider:

  1. The training provider should be listed on the RMS website.
  2. The training provider should be a Registered Training Organisation (RTO).
  3. The vehicles used in assessment should be late models.
  4. The trainers and assessors must speak English fluently.
  5. The training provider should not be offering deals for cash.
  6. The training provider should be providing full details about the service they offer, and ideally, something similar to a Product Disclosure Statement (PDS).

Do it right the first time and only deal with a quality and honest provider. We guarantee that’s exactly what we are here at ALLTRUCK DRIVER TRAINING. Call us if we can help 1300521289

Will I fail my truck licence assessment?

Lets start this article with some statistics from a recent internal audit that we conducted. 250 of the last training courses were considered (50 from each trainer) and the results showed that approximately 90% of learners passed their Final Competency Assessment (FCA) first attempt.

We are very pleased with that figure, as 9 in 10 is a really good first time pass rate. The figures were all very close for each trainer, which indicates that they all are doing their job properly.

In the event of a failed attempt at a truck licence assessment, the rules allow that you can reattempt the assessment 1 hour later. Of course, this is dependent on the assessors availability. Our team of assessors always try provide the earliest reassessment opportunity.

In the unlikely event of a failed FCA, we only charge for the time to conduct the reassessment, which is applied at a discounted rate.

We understand that failing is not a pleasant experience, and our team is well trained on treating each learner with dignity at this disappointing time.

Whilst the assessors final decision must stand, as per procedure, if a customer wishes to appeal the decision, the video evidence will be reviewed by the principle trainer. If the decision is deemed to be incorrect, we will provide a reassessment free of charge. Our assessors don’t make mistakes, as they are all very experienced and have intimate knowledge of the rules. Benefits of the doubt are always provided to the candidate.

Our mission is to not see you fail in the first place, so our trainers push you as hard as we can to see that you’re well prepared and likely to pass first attempt.

A few insights to consider:

  • Road rules such as Signalling and Stop signs are obviously treating seriously in assessments, and result in immediate test termination if they’re broken
  • In-cabin cameras are required to record the assessment
  • Appropriate conversation is permitted to relax the environment but assessors are careful not to distract you
  • The final assessment does not include off-road criteria like load securing or pre start checks.

You can be assured that when you received a licence training and assessment course with  ALLTRUCK DRIVER TRAINING, you’re dealing with a proper Roads and Maritime Services approved Registered Training Organisation.

Call us anytime if we can be of service 1300521289

Let our team help you pass your heavy vehicle driving assessment first go…

Free training session – Load securing and Road rules

On Wednesday 5 December 2018 at 6:00pm, we invite you to attend a free training and information session that will refresh you on the following topics:

Load securing

Road rules

The session will go for about 90 minutes and is free of charge.

The session is also an opportunity to meet a trainer and assessor, discuss any licensing enquiries you have and check out our fleet of training vehicles.

This session is not about generating sales; it’s all about giving back to the industry that has served us well for many decades.

We invite all to attend with Statements of Attendance provided on request.

The event will be held at 2C Burley Rd Horsley Park 2175.

A free sausage sizzle will be on offer.

Bookings are essential as spots are limited. Call today 1300521289 or email or message us on Facebook.

Free training session flyer

Need work? Get a truck licence

One quick search of Seek reveals 1753 truck driver jobs in Sydney alone. There certainly is a shortage of truck drivers in Sydney, and the problem is worse in regional areas.

If driving a truck for work is something that interests you, we can help you get started by offering two services:

Medium Rigid licence upgrade, or

Heavy Rigid licence upgrade, or

Heavy Combination licence upgrade, and

Advanced Heavy Vehicle Driver Training

Stage 1: The truck licence upgrade stage (HVCBA) provides training and assessment to meet the government prescribed licence standard to drive a heavy vehicle. Whilst this program is of high quality, the contents are set by government agencies, and not industry (or us), and in many cases that content and / or standard may be lower than what some employers consider as a job ready preparation. One fact that we’ve established numerous times is that generally speaking most employers enjoy paying low course fees to see their staff licensed, and will elect to only fund the licence process and not the advanced content.

Stage 2 (optional): The advanced driver training is not required to start work, as responsible driver transport operators will often provide sufficient employment training and induction, but it is fair to say that some employers expect that you are job ready at application to the job. In this program the training involves serious ‘low gear’ grades, advanced load security awareness, fatigue compliance, and advanced gear changing in constant mesh manuals (where applicable).

In a perfect world the licence standard would include the advanced training but that is not the case, as in a competitive training market, provider’s course fees are compared and sadly cheap and quick is often preferred over quality and content. The only way that will change is if the policy makers amend the rules and require new drivers to undertake training and assessment on more subjects.

So if you want high quality and reliable licensing process that doesn’t divert from the minimum licensing requirements, we provide that solution and do it in class with highly qualified trainers in near new industry leading vehicles. Highest quality – easiest pathway.

If you see value in learning more beyond the minimum licence standard or want to experience ‘low gear required’ grades like Mt Ousley, we can provide that too.

It’s about meeting your personal wants and needs, something our family company has done for nearly four decades.

Call us to find out more 1300521289