In Australia, you can obtain a truck driving license very quickly. Pursuant to applicable laws in one of the states, it is sufficient to have an Australian driving license for two years and complete a few hours’ training to be able to drive vehicles up to 22.5 tonnes. Then, it takes a year and another quick training course to get behind the wheel of a tractor unit, which weighs up to 42.5 tonnes with a semi-trailer. Unfortunately, the ease of obtaining a driving license has begun to produce tragic consequences on the roads.
The Australian press has recently reported on a disastrous week in the state of Victoria, with numerous fatal road accidents as well as an increase in similar incidents across the country. Suffice it to recall that as many as four police officers were killed in one of the accidents when a truck with a semi-trailer drove into an emergency lane where the officers had just stopped a speeding driver.
The Australian newspaper “The Age” states that the increase in the number of accidents has led the government to consider radical changes to improve road safety. Because the statistics are dramatic. The data of the Australian Federal Department of Transport indicate that during the 12-month period up to December 2019, a total of 188 people were killed in 173 truck accidents. This constitutes an increase of more than 27 percent compared to the previous year.
Therefore, the government of Victoria is looking into the “sinister” training standards to get them improved. The heads of transport companies insist on at least a five-day training course for truck drivers, for example. In their view, the existing gradational licensing system in Victoria is based on “completed training time” rather than actual driving skills.
They also add that without major reforms, the number of fatalities will continue to increase, and the lack of drivers will take its toll since employers will be more and more reluctant to hire people without the necessary experience.
Too easy to qualify in Australia
The transport sector demands from the authorities that drivers be properly trained before obtaining a driving licence and getting behind the truck’s wheel.
“Now, getting qualified is easy, since all you need to do is pay around 1,000 dollars and sacrifice five hours of your time” – asserts Peter Anderson, Executive Director of Transport Association, quoted by “The Age.”
As a result of government scrutiny, the transport industry expects the authorities to introduce a mandatory training system of at least five-day duration, which equals to at least 66 hours of training before a driver can obtain its license.
Craig Nicholson, CEO of Armstrong’s Driver Education, believes that such a system would significantly improve the competencies of heavy truck drivers in Victoria. For the time being, he sees poorly trained drivers as a threat to public security.