When driving interstate, the licence you currently have will suffice, as long as it is still valid. But when you are moving from another state, you must apply for a new licence to permit you to drive trucks in your new state. Here is a handy guide to obtaining interstate truck driving licence and some safety tips.
Licence Requirements for Interstate Truck Driving
Each state in Australia has its licencing requirements. In NSW, you can drive for three (3) months on an interstate licence, but beyond that period you need to have your licence transferred to NSW. To do that, you must visit a service centre in person and bring all the necessary documentation:
- Interstate or territory licence
- Proof of identity
- Completely filled-out Licence Application form
- Medical report, if applicable
There are five categories of heavy vehicle licence:
- LR or Light Rigid – has a gross vehicle mass or GVM not greater than 8T (for towed trailer, not greater than 9T GVM) and can accommodate more than 12 adults (including the driver). Holders of provisional P1 licence are not eligible for a LR licence.
To obtain this licence, you must have held a Class C licence for at least a year (learner licence not considered). You must also pass the eyesight and knowledge test. You must also either pass the Roads and Maritime driving test or carry out a Heavy Vehicle Competency Based Assessment (HVCBA).
- MR or Medium Rigid – has a GVM greater than 8T (towed trailer must not be greater than 9T GVM) and has two (2) axles. The requirements to obtain this licence are the same as LR. Similarly, P1 licence holders are not permitted a MR licence.
- HR or Heavy Rigid – has a GVM greater than 8T (towed trailer must not be greater than 9T GVM) and has three (3) or more axles. You must have held a Class C licence for at least two (2) years or more (learner licence not considered). You must pass the knowledge and eyesight tests; you must also pass the Roads and Maritime driving test or instead undertake HVCBA. P1 licence holders are not permitted a HR licence.
- HC or Heavy Combination – has a GVM greater than 9T has three (3) or more axles. To obtain this licence, you must have held MR or HR class licence (or equivalent) for at least a year. You must pass the knowledge and eyesight tests, as well as the Roads and Maritime driving test or otherwise undertake HVCBA. Holders of provisional P2 licence are not qualified for a HC licence.
- MC or Multi Combination – for this licence, you must have held HR or HC class licence or equivalent, for a year or more. You must pass the knowledge and eyesight tests, and must undertake and complete the HVCBA.
Applicants with class HR licence must pass a class HC licence assessment before they are permitted MC training. A medical examination is also required for MC licence. Holders of provisional P2 licence are not qualified for a MC licence.
Safety Tips and Driver Management
To keep up with the demanding job of driving a heavy vehicle such as a truck, proper driver management, and observation of safety rules are essential. As a driver, you are expected to be familiar with, and abide by, the traffic and heavy vehicle driving laws. But there are some things worth being reminded with again. In the last 12 months, accidents involving articulated and heavy rigid vehicles have increased by more than 2% and 6%, respectively. Here are some state-recommended health and safety tips to keep you in your best driving condition:
Staying Fit to Drive
- Get a regular night sleep, at least seven or eight hours, to help manage drivers’ fatigue. A good night’s rest is a lot better than daytime sleep. This will also help keep your mind sharp and alert on the road while operating a heavy vehicle.
- Proper diet and exercise will keep you fit and healthy for this job. Try to maintain a good weight and go for healthy food selections.
- Stress stemming from work or home can affect driving and makes accidents more likely. Stress management is a part of safety driving routine. Consult a GP or talk to your employer for help and advice if a work or home-related situation is causing you stress which affects your driving performance.
- Avoid drinking alcohol before and during the trip.
- There may be occasions when you have had a drink. Note that it takes more than 18 hours to get rid of your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The legal BAC level when driving is under .02; this means that even one drink can put you above the allowable limit. Sobering takes time, and the best way to deal with it is to just wait it out until your BAC is in the clear.
- Stimulants, depressants, and prescription drugs all have the potential to affect driving. More often than not, these substances can impair driving ability and may result in road mishaps. Consult your doctor or pharmacists for advice regarding these drugs and how they could impact your driving.
Task Management for Peak Driving Performance
- Planning your trip ahead of schedule will allow you to arrange for rest breaks. During rest breaks, you can do some stretching or rest your eyes and mind for a bit by taking a nap. Many rest areas are available 24 hours a day, such as service centres, country towns, petrol stations, and parks.
- Never drive, or agree to a driving roster, longer the legal number of work and rest hours.
- Have a work diary indicating your basic information, work and rest hours, number plate of vehicles driven, start and end odometer reading (of every vehicle driven in the event of a vehicle change), locations of work and rest change. If working with another driver, indicate the other driver’s name, licence number and issuing state or territory, identifying or security number, and get the other driver’s signature as well.
- A seatbelt is compulsory, and it is considered an offence to remove a fitted seatbelt from a vehicle. Drivers of any vehicles, including heavy vehicles like trucks, have the responsibility to ensure that all passengers are properly restrained in a seatbelt.
- Check the traffic before entering and exiting the vehicle, and before opening the door. Exit carefully facing the vehicle and use the available steps and grabs; do not jump.
- Check that the brakes and tyres are in good working condition and that the load is distributed equally between axle groups, before driving.
- Be a “low-risk” driver — observe the road, your vehicle’s speed, and your vehicle’s position on the road in relation with other vehicles and other road objects.
Read additional state-specific rules concerning driving hours and fatigue management at the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator website.
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