Is endorsement training adequate?

A recent occurrence of a heavy vehicle again becoming stuck in the Sydney Airport Tunnel has once more brought the question of driver training to the fore. In this case the driver did not know how to reverse or uncouple and had no knowledge of the height limitations of the route he had chosen.

Endorsement training is provided by Registered Training Organisations who also undertake their own testing. While most do the right thing, there has been some recent cases of corruption where endorsements have simply been bought. Let’s face it, RTO’s are in competition with each other which leads to the lowering of costs in order to get the business. There is only so much training that they can do and still remain profitable.

This is a vital safety issue particularly since 457 visa drivers are being brought in to address the driver shortfall. There are already National Standards of training and assessment that RTO’s must adhere to so what can be done to improve this situation?

One answer may be to make driver assessors/examiners independent. Examiners could be registered and approved by the NHVR and/or the State Regulatory Body in a similar way to the NHVAS auditors, and engaged by the RTO when required. This separates the training from the license assessment and removes any inference of vested interest. A similar system for forklift training assessment has been in place in NSW for some time.

Authorised examiners would need to sign off on endorsement applications for successful drivers and be subject to regular auditing. This could also provide independent feedback to RTO’s regarding their training. Let us know what you think of this idea.

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