Call for universal heavy vehicle licensing

Industry group NatRoad has told the national body Austroads to use a competency-based system for licensing

The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) has told Austroads that it’s time to move heavy vehicle driver licensing in Australia to a national competency-based system.

NatRoad’s call comes in a submission providing feedback on the Consultation Regulation Impact Statement outlining proposed changes to the National Heavy Vehicle Driver Competency Framework.

Austroads is the collective of the Australian and New Zealand transport agencies, representing all levels of government and it has been working on needed changes to the heavy vehicle driver licensing system for some time.

The current licensing framework has only been implemented in four jurisdictions: New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria and the Northern Territory. 

NatRoad wants Austroads to drop its proposal for post-licence behind-the-wheel supervised training and says its members have also made it clear that they do not support a time-based heavy vehicle licensing system.

“At present, licence progression is based on time served on a lower licence class,” says NatRoad CEO Warren Clark.


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“For a heavy vehicle driver to be eligible to apply to progress to a higher licence class, they must hold a licence for a prior vehicle class for a minimum period of one year. 

“The weakness is that there is often no record of actual driving experience during that period. In fact, actual driving experience is not required.”

Clark says NatRoad policy is that if a person achieves the relevant competencies, the time period between licence class attainment is irrelevant. Any revised Framework must be reformed on that basis.

“NatRoad policy is that licence tests should reflect real-world conditions and, on that basis, must contain training on dealing with risky behaviour of light vehicle drivers,” Clark says.

“Austroads should recommend educational material and testing on how to drive around trucks be part of licensing requirements for light vehicle drivers.

“Austroads should also recommend to state and territory governments that driver offence notification requirements be harmonised between jurisdictions, using Queensland as the best current system for that notification.”

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