Austroads to Work on Pilot Schemes to Bring Younger Drivers to the Trucking Industry Amid Skill and Safety Concerns

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Amid ongoing concerns over skill shortages and safety in the trucking industry, Austroads, the peak organisation of Australasian road transport and traffic agencies, has announced its intention to develop pilot schemes aimed at bringing more young drivers into the industry while ensuring they are adequately trained and safe on the roads.

At the ATA’s annual conference in Canberra earlier this month, Austroads consultant Judy Oswin highlighted the critical need for these programs.

Judy Oswin (Image: ATA)

“According to data compiled by the Monash University Accident Research Centre, there is a 45 per cent to 90 per cent higher risk of being involved in a heavy vehicle crash when a driver has progressed quickly through the different licence classes,” Big Rigs reported her saying.  

Paul Davies, General Manager of Programs for Austroads, emphasized the organization’s commitment to creating viable pathways for young drivers into the trucking industry. “We recognize that for young drivers, the pathway to the industry is a challenge,” he said.

Davies further mentioned that Austroads plans to closely collaborate with industry stakeholders and jurisdictions to bring these pilot schemes to fruition, which could eventually serve as a model for licensing moving forward.

Earlier this week, Big Rigs published a news story where a young truckie anonymously reported that he was passed in his HR licence test by a driving school in Victoria despite the examiner admitting he should have failed. The young driver recounted that his examiner cited profitability as a reason for passing him, revealing a concerning focus on quantity over quality in driver training.

This alarming situation brings to light the issues within the current licensing system, where expedited and inadequate training can lead to unsafe driving practices. Especially in an industry where there is always an impending fear of accidents.

The truckie expressed his fears about continuing in a career that might endanger his life, especially as he prepares for interstate runs from Melbourne to Perth.

Austroads’ pilot programs aim to overhaul how young drivers are trained, focusing not just on helping them obtain licenses but ensuring they are thoroughly prepared to handle the responsibilities of the job.

“There’s a fair bit of work in designing the programs and then, importantly, we will need to evaluate those programs,” Oswin noted, suggesting that it could take up to ten years to fully assess the effectiveness of these initiatives.

As the trucking industry faces a dual challenge of attracting new drivers and ensuring they are capable and safe, Austroads’ commitment to developing comprehensive training and licensing models is a crucial step forward.

The industry, while eager to fill positions amid a driver shortage, must also prioritize the safety of its workers and the public. This balance will be key to sustaining the industry’s growth and ensuring the safety of its future workforce.

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