ATA wants better licensing and training standards, tighter controls on foreign drivers

Trucking association says more consistent training standards are needed for drivers.

ATA wants better licensing and training standards, tighter controls on foreign drivers
The ATA's Bill McKinley says the quality of current driver training standards is highly variable.


Governments need to commit to improving licensing standards to ensure truck drivers being put behind the wheel have received consistent and high-quality training, the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) says.

The country’s peak trucking lobby used its appearance before a Senate inquiry into road safety to press the case for changes in the way drivers are trained and assessed, while also advocating stricter controls on foreign drivers working in Australia.

ATA national manager of government relations and policy Bill McKinley says the country’s federal infrastructure minister and the education and training minister should, along with the states, review the training, assessment and licensing arrangements for truck drivers.

"At the moment, the quality of training and assessment is highly variable. There are many excellent trainers, but others train to a price or guarantee how long the course will take, regardless of how competent you are at the end of it," McKinley says.

"Operators are particularly concerned about the variable quality of training in chain of responsibility, load restraint, fatigue management and work health and safety."

McKinley says the industry needs a common set of vehicle driver licensing standards, with jurisdictions or the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator responsible for applying them.

"The standards need to be imposed by a body that is responsive to feedback," he says.

"At the same time, at the regulation of providers side, we need a common national system where registered training organisations deliver the training packages they’re supposed to deliver."

The ATA also wants changes to provisions governing overseas licence holders driving in Australia.

"The rules should firstly require overseas licence holders to obtain an Australian licence within a year, even if they are only in Australia temporarily," McKinley says.

He says every jurisdiction except the Northern Territory allows temporary visitors to drive on their overseas licences indefinitely.

"Secondly, there should also be consistent provisions about what happens when an overseas licence holder fails a driving test," he says.

"In three states at the moment, it’s possible for an overseas licence holder to apply for an Australian drivers licence, go to the driving test, fail, and then keep driving on their overseas licence, even though they just demonstrated conclusively that they are not competent to drive in Australia."

The ATA also wants overseas licence holders banned from driving heavy vehicles in Australia if they do not hold an Australian heavy vehicle licence.

"An overseas licence holder should be able to drive a motorhome around Australia, but driving a heavy vehicle for commercial purposes should not be allowed," McKinley says.

The Senate inquiry into road safety is looking at a number of areas, including the social and economic cost of road-related injuries and deaths, vehicle design standards and new safety technologies.

The inquiry is due to report its findings on September 9.

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