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Driver incident renews licensing standards call

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Company policy defended as VTA points to ‘inadequate’ system

Driver incident renews licensing standards call
Peter Anderson has campaigned to reform heavy vehicle licensing in Victoria


A matter involving a truck driver behaving recklessly behind the wheel has again raised questions over the standards of Australia’s heavy vehicle licensing and training models.

Channel 9 news publicly released footage of a driver who had filmed himself while driving, with the report revealing he had worked for operator Wettenhalls before being suspended pending investigation.

In the report Wettenhalls CEO Mike Lean pointed to the company’s half-a-million-dollar driver simulator and driver distraction warning systems in place to ensure strong driver standards, telling Channel 9 news he "had never seen anything like this" in the driving community.

Instead, the focus has turned back to how individuals slip through the cracks in the current system.

Victorian Transport Association (VTA) CEO Peter Anderson backed Wettenhalls – and by extension the majority of the state’s compliant operators – instead taking aim at broader industry changes that needed to be made.

"The VTA is appalled by any unprofessional behaviour by individuals within our industry, and are working constantly to raise the standard of knowledge and understanding within the transport sector," he tells ATN.

"Events like this don’t help our cause, but it doesn’t mean we’ll give up fight and we’ll continue to push harder for effective change that will improve our industry."

Anderson had earlier been grilled by radio station 3AW’s Neil Mitchell, admitting the time-based licensing system for heavy vehicle drivers was currently "inadequate" and not requiring "skill or experience behind the wheel of a truck to progress your level of licencing", which takes "about five hours of your time and a thousand dollars" to complete.

The issue has "been there quite some time where we’re not attracting the right sort of people for the type of work that’s involved".

The VTA says it continues to lead a review of the licencing system, while looking to implement a skills-based graduating system and move away from the current system that "delivers the kind of driver that should be on the road".

It recently won a commitment from the state government of $4 million over four years to educate 800 new drivers, focusing on 140 key competencies in a real-life situation, based on the eight-day Mandatory Entry Level Training (MELT) program adapted from a successful Canadian model.

Anderson reinforces that reform needs to be completed as soon as possible to benefit the industry - and the public.

"Victoria’s leading the way in our current review of the heavy vehicle licensing system, which will ensure new drivers have the skills and competency they need," he tells ATN.

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