The drive for driver improvement

By: The Owner//Driver team, Photography by: Greg Bush

Queensland-based driver instructor believes training should be longer for would-be heavy vehicle licence holders

The drive for driver improvement
Strategix driver instructor Ian Stanley


Ian Stanley has been in the truck and bus game for over 30 years – including as a driver, fleet and operations manager – and driving instructor at Strategix Training in Brisbane for the past decade.

He does B-double licenses in two days, including 16 hours behind the wheel and a two-hour driving test. He goes beyond the call of duty in taking nearly all candidates up and down the old Toowoomba Range, teaching them how to hold on to a big rig using either a crash box or an automated gearbox in manual mode.

"Should the training be longer for all heavy vehicles? Absolutely!" Ian says.

"I would love to have people for a week but we would price ourselves out of the game.

"For that to happen it would need to come from governing bodies and be implemented across the industry. Competency comes with time and practice on the road."

Ian actually spends most of his time training the far more comprehensive Certificate III in Driving Operations, a nationally-recognised qualification for which government subsidies are available. He says there’s "sometimes too much theory in it", but he believes something like it should be the minimum requirement for getting behind the wheel.

For newbies, the Certificate III taught by Strategix involves two days in the classroom for 10 weeks, covering key topics such as fatigue management, Chain of Responsibility, manual handling, load restraint and vehicle inspection. Then it’s 10 hours behind the wheel to prepare candidates for their Heavy Rigid (HR) licence test.

Strategix also offers Cert III in the workplace, "to make sure drivers are at the top of their game". This might include sitting with an already-experienced B-double driver while they do a long-distance changeover.

In addition to basic licensing and Cert III, for about $100 an hour Ian is often asked to visit trucking companies and help out with identified drivers, upgrading their skills.

"Three hours and $300 is cheaper than putting a new clutch and gearbox in a truck," he points out, and he’s not just talking about crash boxes in articulated trucks, but synchros in rigids as well.

In Queensland, HR and HC licenses are assessed by Department of Transport and Main Roads’ officers.

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