Reprinted courtesy of the ABC http://www.abc.net.au/local/photos/2015/07/29/4283…
CEO of a Bunbury freight company, Mark Mazza wants to see a nationally accredited training scheme for truck drivers
A 30 year veteran of the industry, Mark believes that many drivers are ignorant about the trucks they drive. He says they cost the industry millions in damage each year and put lives at risk.
One of the most common mishaps for drivers is a dropped trailer, he says. In New South Wales, the incidence has risen by 30 per cent in the last year.
“If you’re passing a truck at 100kph and the trailer comes off, the consequences can be horrific.”
Currently, a person gains a licence and then learns on the job, says Mark. For example, a driver can hold a rigid truck licence for 12 months, complete a one day course and the next day be pulling three trailers.
“They only have to possess it (the rigid licence). They don’t even have to drive…if I employ an MC (multi-combination rig) operator, I cannot be guaranteed of that person’s skills.”
Mark is a founder member of Transafe WA, an organisation dedicated to improving transport safety.
Not everyone agrees with his stance on skills upgrading, he says. “They see the merit but feel it’s all too hard.”
Mark envisages a national curriculum along the lines of an Institute of Technology accreditation.
Training could still be delivered on the job, he says but would adhere to an industry standard as opposed to a workplace by workplace standard.
Decision makers need to be onside and, to that end, Mark takes every opportunity to write, lobby, and speak at transport forums.
“Road users lives are at stake,” he says.
What’s under the hood
When Mark began driving, he was mentored by older, experienced men. Today is the opposite.
“I notice a distinct dumbing down of operators. There has been a deliberate attempt to increase safety by taking responsibility for vehicles away from drivers instead of educating drivers to be better at what they do.”
Speed is a major cause of accidents or death but so is a lack of maintenance on equipment, Mark maintains, and drivers and owners both need to take responsibility for vehicle roadworthiness.
Owners are duty bound to service their equipment and to provide documentation.
Drivers, on the other hand, “know the vehicle intimately, yet they fail to recognise issues or faults because they’re not being trained to understand what the faults are”.
With a damage bill in the vicinity of $300,000 a year, Mark has plenty of reasons to be passionate about better training. A hose linking which has dragged on the road and worn thin can wipe out “$30,000 worth of tyres”.
Transport is not an industry, it is a service to industry, says Mark and is therefore not seen as entitled to the same regulation or qualification as other trades.
Transport has to combat the attitude that ‘I can drive a car, how hard is it to drive a truck?’
Change is slowly happening, according to Mark. Yard Duties has been added as a training module which will enable young people to enter the sector and pick up basic mechanical knowledge before they sit for a licence.
For instance, says Mark, “Learn how to change tyres. There are many configurations and some are very dangerous if you do not know what you’re doing.”
With costs between $5,000 and $7,000 to train each person, insurance costs, and compliance imposts on top of the annual damage bill, Mark says he would be happy to pay higher wages for better skilled drivers.
If he were hiring a plumber or an electrician, says Mark, “I wouldn’t have to teach them to wire up a house to join a pipe”.
“That’s the difference with my business. I have to employ a person and then train them when the training place is on the road.”