Australia’s leading truck insurer, National Transport Insurance (NTI) has entered  the national discussion about the dire shortage of truck drivers by calling for a national approach to address the challenge.

NTI has congratulated NatRoad on its recent announcement of a program to address the heavy vehicle transport and logistics skills shortage and has called on all industry bodies to work together in developing a national solution.

NTI’s general manager commercial, MikeEdmonds says increasing diversity and reducing barriers to entry has long been a focus for NTI.

“With annual contributions of $750,000 to industry associations, alongside the investment into safety statistics, NTI is pleased to be part of the solution in making a real difference,” said Mike Edmonds.

“The industry continues to call for national solutions to challenges and currently there are a number of bodies working on this  particular challenge and NTI is calling on all parties to work together to achieve a national solution,” he said.

“NTI made a change around four  years ago in consultation with industry representatives, to overhaul our driver acceptance criteria and change the snapshot of what the work force looks like. The agreed approach reflects the need for appropriate experience and training to ensure the safety of all road users Industry driven, industry approved.”

“Our goal since then has been to reflect Australia’s licencing system which supports graduated pathways for drivers, and to align driver experience with vehicle combinations.”

Geoff Crouch, Chair of Australian Trucking Association (ATA) says governments needed to match the industry’scommitment by upgrading truck driver licensing.

“Are centre view of the National Heavy Vehicle Driver Competency Framework found that the standard of training and assessment was inadequate. It pointed out, for example, that the existing Heavy Rigid licensing unit did not cover key safety skills such as driving down steep descents and avoiding skids,” said Mr Crouch.

“Governments need to act rapidly to improve truck driver licensing. This would improve safety and make truck driving more attractive as a skilled, safe occupation,” he said.

One of the ways NTI works with business owners and operators to encourage the next generation of operators to come onboard, is to work case-by-case and agree on pathways to competency.

“The challenges that young drivers face generally apply to inexperienced drivers of all ages. Our work in this space has seen NTI over haul our driver acceptance criteria to attract not only young talent, but more talent,” said NTI’s Mr. Edmonds.

“Freight movement is becoming more and more complex, so it’s also important to support continual driver education and skills development. That’s what keeps operators progressing through vehicle configurations and specialised freight movement,” he added. 

“Our priority is first and foremost based on safety outcomes for all road users. Our data tells us that inappropriate speed, driver error and fatigue remain the largest contributing factors in incidents involving heavy vehicles for all drivers – irrespective of age.”