Advanced heavy vehicle driver training

There is not a huge appetite for advanced heavy vehicle driver training in Sydney.

This is possibly due to drivers generally not wanting to fund it. This may start to change soon, perhaps brought on by an ongoing over representation of truck driver accidents. This does not imply that advanced heavy vehicle driver training is the answer to reducing accidents, but that something needs to be looked at.

The fact that is transport company management’s are becoming increasingly nervous. Nervous, as they feel obliged to mitigate the risks, so far as they reasonably practicably can. They see the devastating effects that truck accidents have on so many people. Most importantly, the driver and other road users are at risk of death or serious trauma, should something go wrong on the road. The consequences extend beyond that, with company safety record and reputation brought into question. There are legal consequences that are to be considered, such as WHS laws, Fatigue laws, and Chain of Responsibility.

One thing that companies have had to be very aware of is Media management, especially Social media. You just have to look on Facebook half an hour after a truck rollover, and the story has spread virally. The online comments are usually not positive (that’s being polite), as other road users are caught in traffic whilst the accident is cleared.

All considered, it is worth noting that I don’t think that the recent spate of truck accidents is due to a lack of training. A recent poll on Facebook, on the public perception of what’s causing the recent spate of truck roll-overs indicated that the cause is not a training deficiency.  It’s fair to assume that NSW Government agencies RMS and NSW Police don’t consider the over-representation of truck incidents as a lack of training matter, and I assume this by the reactions and remedies implemented in response to these events.

“Personally, I believe that attitude and respect for the machine and other road users is a serious deficiency that exists on the roads. This of course is caused by a minority of cowboy operators”.

We recently had an enquiry from a prominent transport company’s Learning and Development Manager. He wanted to enquire about getting a few of his drivers upgraded. He opened with, “I don’t want them just licensed, I want them job ready”. This was a perfectly reasonable request, I thought. I explained to him that the Heavy Vehicle Competency Based Assessment (HVCBA) system is set up where the standards are set Federally and managed at a State level. The rules are that there are criteria that need to be met, and once they are, we are not able to hold the customer back by over-assessing. The idea there is that a customer should be able to deal with any provider and get the same treatment and be assessed to the same standards. Put simply, I suggested that my opinion is that passing a HVCBA does not necessary mean that the driver is job ready. This is something that I have come to accept over the many years, as companies have a role in inducting the driver to a specific vehicle and role, as drivers or their employers do not wish to spend thousands on external training.

So, I offered him two options:

  1. Heavy Vehicle Competency Based Assessment, as prescribed by government, or
  2. Heavy Vehicle Competency Based Assessment plus advanced heavy vehicle driver training which includes four (4) additional advanced criteria which I named: Load Security Awareness, Steep decent driving, Advanced gear shifting, Fatigue management.

The cost of the option 2 was exactly double that of option 1.

I found it interesting that all of a sudden the statement “I don’t want them just licensed, I want them job ready” wasn’t so important to him, and he selected option 1.

The moral of the story is that cost influences drivers and their employers, but the expense may only be deferred and be significantly higher if something goes wrong due to lack of training.


Truck licence test common mistakes

The truck licence system in NSW is, for the most part, a fair and equitable process. It can, however, be a painful experience when a learner fails a test, especially when only a minor error has occurred.

“What must be considered is that truck licence assessments are video recorded. The person assessing you must be a different person than the person who trained you, as per RMS rules. These two factors significantly contribute to an escalation in nervousness, and with nervousness often comes errors”.

There are three outcomes to a Final Competency Assessment, in the truck licence assessment system in NSW:




A pass is obvious; the learner has met the standard prescribed by the licensing regulator.

A fail is where too many errors have been made in the assessment, but the assessment is allowed to continue to the end of the assessment route.

A terminated assessment occurs for a number of reasons. The most common is where a breach of road rules occurs. The Austroads National tool for Heavy Vehicle licensing explicitly states that if an error occurs in Section D, the assessment must be terminated. We feel that this outcome is better that having to finish a test, only to break the bad news to the learner at the end. Also, this early termination does allow us to highlight the error to the learner, while it is still fresh in their mind. A termination would also be due to an unsafe situation arising, like fatigue or disobeying an authorised persons instructions.

To avoid a Fail or Terminated outcome, consider the following common mistakes:

  1. Incorrect indication: Signalling is a requirement prescribed in the Road Rules, with fines and demerit points applied for non-compliance. Ensure that you signal for at least five (5) seconds before leave the kerb. Ensure that you signal left when exiting a roundabout (unless not practicable). Ensure you provide sufficient indication before turning or lane changing.
  2. Speeding:  RMS are very fair with the application of speed measurement in licence assessments. We have been given clear instruction that we must only rely on the instruments that the learner has at their disposal during the assessment. This means that we are not allowed to rely on GPS for evidentiary purposes. We allow for parallax error when establishing vehicle speed and encourage learners to ask the assessor the speed zone if they are not sure. Beware, speeding results in assessment termination.
  3. Stopping over a stop line:  Whilst we want you to stop close to the stop line, under most circumstances you must not have any part of the vehicle over the line.  So when approaching a stale set of traffic light, be prepared to be able to stop behind the line.
  4. Stop sign: Stop mean fully stop near but not over the stop line.
  5. Mirror checking and observation:  Regularly be checking your mirrors for lane positioning. Including when turning to ensure the vehicle does not collide with a hazard such as a kerb or median strip.

Those are some of the items we strongly recommend you watch out for during your truck licence test.

If you’re interested in upgrading to a truck license, give us a call anytime on 1300 521 289 or use the contact form to send us a message.


Get a truck license in Sydney today

Getting a truck license in Sydney has never been easier.

“Be an MR license, HC license, or HC license, we have well designed courses that ensure that fees are kept as low as possible”.

At ALLTRUCK DRIVER TRAINING, we offer flexible options to see you succeed in the truck license training course of your choosing.

We receive high levels of positive feedback from our customers, as they are pleased they achieved the truck license that they set out to. Our FAQ page can help you get started.

For our Medium Rigid course we us a 2015 Model Hino 300.

For our Heavy Rigid courses we use either a 2015 Mack Granite, a 2012 Mack Trident, or a 2010 Hino 500.

For Heavy Combination, we connect a trailer to one of our Macks and away we go.

Considered by many as Sydney’s premium provider of truck license solutions, we are the preferred provider to many local councils and some of the worlds largest companies.  We specialise in corporate solutions, that provide companies with well defined pathways to have their staff appropriately licensed. What we do well is simplify the process, with our dedicated admin team ready to meet your needs.

Our team is ready to provide service.  We have four full-time trainer/assessors, and a fifth in training. Our newest recruit has spent the last five years driving semi trailers, and the time has come for him to join our team of dedicated professional.

We are located in a Western Sydney suburb called Horsley Park. Horsley Park is located next to the Western Sydney Airport area. Our courses are usually conducted on the truck friendly roads of Eastern Creek and Erskine Park.

Call us today on 1300 521 289 for any enquiry.