You’re Lucky You Don’t Want To Get Your Licence In The USA – Or Are You?

A little while ago Armstrongs met with one of the largest heavy vehicle training organisations in the US – if memory serves us correctly, give or take, they had about fifteen training locations scattered around the country and had about a four hundred’ish strong fleet of training vehicles.

Hand-shakes and “G’day mate” all round.  Round table talks were had, and war stories were told.  Our host were gracious and we got the grand tour.  Armstrongs – to say the least – was very impressed.  Out hosts – to say the least – were very unimpressed.  Shocked is maybe a better description… we’ll tell you more about that later.

Why are we bringing this up now?  Well, the US (with certain Canadian provinces not far behind) is about to implement by law minimum behind-the-wheel training times that, if introduced into the Victorian market place, would have just about every Victorian based heavy vehicle licence training provider lined up outside VicRoads first thing in the morning waiting to give them a serve for ruining their businesses – or more specifically – their business model of ‘churn & burn’ and demanding that VicRoads right this horrible wrong and allow them to go back to teaching their clients absolutely NOTHING about driving a heavy vehicle during the 3-4 hours of behind-the-wheel training that has become the norm in Victoria.

jhguyglkjjkk

Armstrongs Has the Longest Heavy Vehicle Courses In The Market Place.  

MORE Behind-The-Wheel Training Makes You MORE Employable.  

Find Out “More” Here

jgjgygig

This presents us with a nice segue (or ‘segway’ depending on which side of the tracks you come from!).

When people talk about getting their heavy vehicle licence in Victoria they talk in hours – 3 to 4 mostly (not at Armstrongs of course!)

In the US, when people talk about getting their CDL (Commercial Drivers Licence to you and me) they talk in weeks – 3 to 4!

So going back a bit, you can now understand how our American hosts came to be so shocked.  After they had finished telling us all about the licensing requirements in the ‘States, Armstrongs chirps up with “…Well in Victoria you can get your equivalent CDL with about 3 to 4 hours of behind the wheel training time…”

Initially, they thought they had simply misunderstood us, given we speak a different language from them and all.  But once we assured them that we both spoke the same mother tongue and that they had actually heard us correctly the first time, the shock well and truly set in.

It makes us laugh-cry-laugh when we read how the subject of getting a CDL is framed in the States.  For example, on our host’s website the following questions were posed:

  1. “Is 3 or 4 weeks of truck driver training enough?”
  2. “What if I get through the training but still don’t feel ready?”
  3. “What if I still need to work on certain skills”

We’re just crying at this stage.  Literally, just crying.

Contrast that with how getting your heavy vehicle licence is framed in the Victorian market place.  I can hear our competitors now:

  1. “Don’t worry mate, 3 or 4 hours will be plenty”
  2. “Oh, you’ll get through the training alright whether you’re ready or not, we have methods to make sure of it“
  3. “Let’s get one thing straight, the only skill you need to work on is memorising the test route.”

DSC2067

Let’s get to real point of US v Vic truck training.

In the US, most CDL applicants (from the bigger training organisations like our host) are ‘pre-hired’ before they even complete their training and obtain their CDL.  Sure, it’s a much, much bigger industry and much bigger economy, but fundamentally transport companies are happy to hire newly licenced guys straight after training because they know what each of those applicants has gone through – and they trust the training organisations to deliver quality training.

On that premise alone, what transport company in Australia would risk hiring someone who had just completed 3 to 4 hours of behind the wheel training just going around a test route?  A stupid one.

So when we break it down, applicants from large CDL training organisations in the US are simply more attractive because they have spent at least one week studying for the CDL learners permit (which is somewhere in the vicinity of 125 to 150 questions long) and they have obtained at least 3 weeks of behind-the-wheel training.  Transport companies are lined up at the door of training schools to pre-hire those currently undergoing their training, and most of the applicants have certainty that there is a job waiting for them upon them successful obtaining their CDL.  Win-Win.

Conversely, applicants in Victoria are not attractive at all because they have spent probably 1 hour studying for the theory test (which is only 32 questions long at the HR level and and additional 20 at the HC level) and then spend around the 3 to 4 hour mark learning to pass the driving assessment.  Most newly licenced heavy vehicle drivers then struggle to find work because every employer wants someone ‘with at least 2 years driving experience’ and then transport companies have to put up with incredibly high incident and accident rates because their new drivers have no basic foundational skills.  Lose-Lose.

Why is it that the US got it so right and Victoria has got it so wrong?

Well, for one, when commercial interests and road safety come together there is only going to be one winner.  And that’s not road safety to make it clear.

Obviously no one feels as aggrieved enough (cheated?) – other than Armstrongs – regarding the state of heavy vehicle license training in this state to actually complain to VicRoads.  We know our competitors will resist change to the death for fear of upsetting their clients and losing business.

Open note to our competitors – Remember, the market place will always do only what it has to do to get a licence.  At the moment it is ‘allowed’ to do very little and under the current licensing regime heavy vehicle training providers are also ‘allowed’ to do very little to facilitate this. But don’t worry.  When change comes – and it will – the market place will continue to do only what it has to – except what it will have to do in the future will be much more.  Last time we looked; more clients doing less training hours = less clients doing more quality training hours.  Unless of course, you don’t care about quality training outcomes.  In that case, when change comes, your trainers and your clients are going to be bored out of their brains driving around the same test route for days on end.  Don’t agree?  Happy to discuss it with you.  Give us a call.

If this has got you thinking about how you can better position yourself to get that driving role (and give yourself a chance at getting around the ‘2 year rule’) then you need to get as much behind-the-wheel training as possible.  And by that, we don’t simply mean spending more hours going around the same test route, we mean getting ‘out there’ and experiencing more driving environments that you are going to come up against on a daily basis.

Why?  Because the boss is going to call your bluff, walk you out to the yard and get you to take him for a drive.  If you want to beat that 2 year rule then you gotta’ show him you can get passed the front gate without destroying his gearbox, side-swiping every pole and tree as you go around corners, and can get his customers freight to them without shaking it all about.

If you’re up for it, and not many are, then you should check out Armstrongs HR Synchro, HR Non-Synchro, and HC “Plus” courses or give the team a call to discuss getting more time behind-the-wheel.

Would You Hire Someone Who Only Had 3 Hours Experience? Of Course You Wouldn’t!

Q: So why then are there so many heavy vehicle licence courses which only include about 3 hours of behind-the wheel-training ?

A1: Because that’s all you want!

A2: Because that’s all the road transport industry gives you the impression you need!

A3: Because the authorities are obviously happy with the low licensing standard!

A4: Because heavy vehicle training providers are more interested in your money than training you!

A5: Because training providers are scared they’ll lose your business if they offer courses that actually train you to be a half decent driver – why is that?

A6: Refer A1…

 “Well Mr Armstrongs, if things were so bad, the industry or VicRoads would’ve made changes a long time ago” we hear you say.  Point taken – that’s a logical position to arrive at.

If no one cares about the low standard of newly licenced drivers then quite clearly changes aren’t required.  Point taken – again.

Generally, for anything in this world to change, there needs to be an adverse effect on someone, and that someone needs to be tired of being adversely effected and therefore wants a change.  Before you even go there – point taken (again!) – if someone was being adversely effected by the current low standard of newly licenced truck drivers then they would have spoken up ages ago.

So, no one complaining, no changes required.  Case closed.

Not so fast your Honour…

Armstrongs tables Exhibit A – latest NTI Insurance & National Truck Accident Research Centre (NTARC ) RESEARCH Victorian Heavy Vehicle investigation report (covering truck accidents 1 Jan 2011 to 17 September 2015)

What was that about no one being affected and no one complaining?  A couple of stats from the report to keep in mind while you attempt to hang onto your original logic.

  • 17.8% of notified large losses came from Victoria (claims over $50,000)
  • In Victoria in 2013, there were 74 incidents over $50,000 costing a total of $11,113,001 (average cost per reported incident $150,176)
  • Australia wide in 2013, there were 549 incidents over $50,000 costing a total of $71,723,007 (average cost per reported incident $130,643)
  • 17.56% of reported incidents occurred in metro/urban areas, 39.18% highways, and 20.27% on regional roads
  • The determined cause of the incidents reported to NTI were as follows:

    Inappropriate speed 36.66%

    Multiple at fault 11.66%

    Multiple not at fault 3.33%

    Other 18.33%

    Total due to driver error 69.98%

    Fatigue 11.66%

    Mechanical 0.00%

  • The determined  ‘at fault’ party of the incidents reported to NTI were as follows:

    64.86% single vehicle accidents resulted in a finding that the driver was at fault

    60% of multi-vehicle collisions resulted in the finding that the HV driver was at fault

    20% of multi-vehicle collisions with fatalities resulted in a finding that the HV driver was at fault

Site Image

And on it goes.  We’ll continue to detail and comment on the findings contained in the report in future blogs, but for now surely these facts are enough ‘prima facie evidence’ to suggest that indeed, someone is complaining (they’re called “the public”) and that they are being adversely affected.

So back to our original question – Why then are there so many heavy vehicle licence courses which only include about 3 hours of behind-the wheel-training so common?  To clutching onto that ‘no one’s complaining’ logic?  Surely, no one in their right mind would be ignorant (stupid?) enough to argue that about 3 hours of behind-the-wheel training is enough to learn how to drive a heavy vehicle and at the end of that time actually be a competent, safe, and low risk heavy vehicle driver – let alone ‘employable’?

Unfortunately “the public” is too abstract a term to mean anything meaningful to most newly licenced drivers.  “The public” consists of other people, not you, or your family or friends.  The stats above affected someone else’s “public”.  Ok, then how do we bring it home to you?  Let’s talk about the thing that prospective heavy vehicle drivers are most concerned about – money!

News flash – after only 3 hours or so of behind-the-wheel training your heavy vehicle licence is literally worthless.  You will have shopped round for the cheapest HR licence you could find and you probably paid about $900 for it (not at Armstrongs though…), but really, all you bought was the privilege to get yourself into all manner of sticky situations that you simply won’t have the knowledge or skill to get out of.

With about 3 hours of behind-the-wheel training under your belt – quite simply – you’re now a bona fide risk to “the public”.  But guess what?  Given that on average, over 3000 people are licenced to drive a heavy vehicle of some sort every quarter – at least one of the other 2999 newly licensed drivers that got their truck licence during the same period as you is putting your “public” at risk.  You might even have the privilege of being included in the next NTI report…

So if you’re the type of person who thinks that the above is not a great outcome, then the solution is simple.  Don’t shop for a heavy vehicle licence like you would bread.  Cheaper is not better.  Look for a heavy vehicle course which includes as much behind-the-wheel training as possible and ask tough questions of the heavy vehicle training providers you call.

If you’re looking for a heavy vehicle licence we’d be glad to give you an answer on how many hours of behind-the-wheel training you’ll receive at Armstrongs and the extra value you’ll receive when you do your training with us.  You can find out about all your heavy vehicle licence course options here.  You’ll also find a sneak-peek at what the driving assessment looks like here.  Have a look and then give us a call.

Getting A Forklift Licence : A Heads-Up From Those Who learnt The Hard Way

Forklift licensing and heavy vehicle licensing share a fair bit in common you know? Forklifts and trucks don’t look like each other you’re right, but we’re actually talking about the similarities between people who want a forklift licence or a heavy vehicle licence.

 A lot of people from both sides of the fence give very little thought to the skill required to operate their chosen machinery well – in fact they often downright think their training course is actually an ‘attendance course’ and that obtaining their licence is a fait accompli (fancy French word for “it’s in the bag!”). They also think that because this ‘thing’ is so easy, it shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours at most, and given that it takes so little time and so little skill, necessarily it shouldn’t cost much – it’s just logic right?.  Hmmm….see what we’re up against?

Get More Information on Armstrongs Forklift Courses for Beginner and Experienced Operators Here

So to all future forklift operators out there, here are a couple of home truths from us to you, via some of our clients who learnt the hard way and then told us about it in detail.

  1.  If you’re actually thinking about going with one of our competitors (but you’re not really right?) you might want to ask whether your “1 or 2 day beginner course” starts with your theory test because if it does then you’ll want to study hard – real hard. The theory test is NOT a simple multiple choice test, it’s a full question and written answer test and there are a LOT of questions.
  2. If the course you’re thinking about booking doesn’t include a trainer going through the information with you before your test then don’t be surprised when you find out that you failed…and that you need to take a retest – not on the same day of course – but at a later date and at an additional cost of somewhere around the $100 to $150 mark. Ouch.  Everyone loves to start their course with a ‘fail’ right?  Puts you in such a good headspace for the rest of your course!.
  3. Next you might want to ask when the calculations test will be conducted. If it’s conducted straight after the theory test then…well, need we say more?  But don’t worry, you can always come back for a retest if you fail – not on the same day of course – but at a later date and at an additional cost of somewhere around the $100 to $150 mark.  Ouch.  Again!  At this point you’re two for three.

In this hypothetical situation (it’s not so hypothetical believe you me!), you have paid about $400-$450 for your ‘cheap’ 2 day beginner course, but you’ll need to potentially pay at least another $200 for retesting – on the basis that you don’t fail again – and be inconvenienced again by having to set aside another day to come back. So your 2 day beginner course for $400-$450 has become a 3 days beginner course for $600-$650 and double the inconvenience.   See where we are going with this?

At this point you’re thinking there must be a less stressful way to go about it right? I mean, why else are you torturing yourself by reading this then?

At Armstrongs, your 3 day beginner course looks like this:

  1. learning support to ensure you understand all the theory. You’ll go through videos and slides to help with your understanding, but most importantly an Armstrongs trainer will be go through all the study information with you to make sure you don’t miss any of the key concepts and that you understand everything you need to know BEFORE you sit any assessments.  This applies to both the theory test and the calculations test. Additional cost to you for this personalised service is $0.00.
  2. in the event that you are not successful on your first attempt at the theory or calculations test (or both), you can sit your retest straight away! C’mon, how good is that?  Additional cost to you – $0.00.
  3. in the event that you are unsuccessful on your practical assessment (but this is not the difficult part for most students), you can sit your retest – you guessed it – straight away. Additional cost to you – $0.00.
  4. it gets better. In the event that you are unsuccessful on your practical test a second time or our trainer thinks that you could do with some additional training then you still have the Armstrongs Training Guarantee up your sleeve.  An additional 2 hours and retest.  Additional cost to you – $0.00.

For all you highly motivated and studious beginners out there, you might not NEED most of this extra value – but what you might WANT is the piece mind that Armstrongs has practically guaranteed that you’ll have your forklift licence at the end of your course. Think of it like health insurance.  You moan and groan for years about paying for something you’ve never had to use, but are relieved to hear that the bill for the whole body scan using the latest thermo-bobby-nuclear powered-scanning machine and the three Professors it takes to work it is covered by your insurance premium that you moaned and groaned about.

forklift Image

But for all the guys and girls out there whose idea of a good time isn’t studying then not only do you WANT to do your forklift training at Armstrongs, but you NEED to do your forklift training at Armstrongs.

So, we’ve always known why some of our competitor’s prices are so cheap (compared to ours), and now you know too. If you like the thought of twice the stress, twice the cost, and twice the inconvenience, then we wish you all the best.

However, if you’re looking for a fixed price stress free experience then check out our forklift course page and then give the team a call.

 

 

Let The ‘Value’ War Begin!

Now that the sun has faded on motorcycle short courses and Stage 2 of the M-GLS quietly commences (yes, quietly because every man and his dog got their learners or licence pre-March 19 and now there is comparatively little demand for motorcycle training and assessment), what does the new motorcycle training and assessment landscape look like?

Take advantage of our 2 Day Learners Permit Course Introductory Offer for Only $495! Book & Pay Online Here!

Firstly, the market place pretty much got what it wanted as far as the cost of getting a learners permit is concerned. So in that sense, we have gone from cheap short courses to cheap (comparatively) long courses.  Good for the consumer but bad for motorcycle training providers.  Let us be clear on that point – bad for OTHER motorcycle training providers.

How so you ask? Well, it appears that a lot of providers out there must feel as though they are at the mercy of weekend dirt bike riders and farmer’s sons, because now that they can’t offer them super short courses (which is how motorcycle training providers traditionally attract this type of rider to their training organisation instead of say…Armstrongs), most providers have now decided to offer them super cheap prices as compensation instead. Heads up, unless the training provider you have selected has the backing of a big parent company or is running its operation out of their lounge room, super cheap prices – far below what it could conceivably cost to actually deliver two whole days of training – are not sustainable.

Prediction – expect a couple of motorcycle training providers to quietly disappear. Super cheap learners permit course costs don’t actually encourage competition and customer service, they destroy it, by slowly letting ‘economic attrition’ take its course.  But for now, all motorcycle training providers are riding high on the thousands of extra people who decided to get their learners permit before Stage 2 of the M-GLS commenced on March 19, 2016.  But wait ‘till pain kicks in.  There’s a fair chance providers will go broke being busy – less students per course, longer courses, more running costs and super-slim margins.  This is not what you would ordinarily call a recipe for commercial viability – but hey, the motorcycle training industry brought that one upon itself.

Seriously, you got to ask (and we did!) “What’s wrong with giving new riders at the learners permit stage a really great training experience, the best it could possibly be?” Silence.  Someone coughing in the background.  Quite clearly the answer to that question is “We’re worried about charging the riding public more.”  What are you worried about?  That they won’t like you anymore?  Motorcycle training providers aren’t here to make friends per sae or concern themselves with how many Facebook likes they have, we’re here to make sure that our clients are prepared the first time they go out there by themselves and to make sure they get back home to the families safe.  From having the client’s best interests in mind always comes respect.  A client can even fail their assessment and still respect your organisation.

kawasaki-z300-1437762891762_956x500

Anyway, this provides us with a nice little segue. You should only ever be worried about charging more for your service if you intend to deliver less.

Rhetorical question to the masses out there – What standard of training and equipment do you think you’re going to get from a motorcycle training provider who isn’t making enough to put back into their business? if you’re thinking little to none then you’re on the right track.

Enough about others though. What about Armstrongs?  We, as usual, will be taking the ‘best value’ approach.  Sure, we won’t be cheapest out there (we never are!) but we are easily the BEST VALUE.  Brand new bikes (Z300s – safest fleet out there), brand new protective DriRider jackets (others will let you do you’re on-road training and assessment in a long sleeve T-Shirt!  That’s really going to hurt if you come off), brand new helmets, brand new gloves, excellent trainers, excellent customer support from start to finish…you get the picture.  But hey, that’s always been the Armstrongs way.

So if ‘value’ is what you’re after, then Armstrongs is the motorcycle training provider for you. Don’t forget to take advantage of our introductory offer for the 2 day learners permit course – it is unbelievably good “value”.

Old Habits Die Hard – “Bye Bye” to the Old System and “Hello” to the new M-GLS!

Let’s get one thing straight. Come March 19 the sun will still shine and everyone wanting to ride a motorcycle (at least legally!) won’t be put off by the new M-GLS.  If you managed to get your motorcycle learners permit or licence under the current system then you might have done so specifically to avoid having to do any training or testing under the new M-GLS.

Why though? What was it exactly that you were trying to avoid?  Additional cost – sure, that’s a real reason and the cost of living in general is so high, so why not avoid paying extra when you can.  What else?  Hmmm, well that’s what we kept asking people and they couldn’t really put their finger on it except to say that a few new riders and want-to-be riders somehow were of the humble opinion that they shouldn’t have to do it because they could already ride a bike and had had a car licence for years and knew the road rules – so they were above the rest of us so to speak, the new M-GLS unfairly questions their (subjective) motorcycle riding awesomeness.  Oh, and as for some of the conspiracy theories that we came across – two words, CRAY ZEE! 

So basically, Armstrongs was the brunt of a bit of flak regarding the increase in price which we weren’t all that happy about because:

  1. we didn’t come up with the new M-GLS structure, nor did we have any input whatsoever into the M-GLS
  2. as a VicRoads accredited provider we are contractually obligated to deliver whatever training and assessment regime the state regulator (that is, VicRoads) decides to implement
  3.  the new M-GLS will cost providers more to deliver and take longer to deliver which will result in a higher course cost – that just basic Economic 101 and you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to follow that logic.

But ‘buyer beware’ as it is wrong to confuse ‘cost’ with ‘value’. Much of the criticism directed at the M-GLS (we are going to be nice and say that when people were criticising Armstrongs new prices, they were really criticising the cost to deliver the M-GLS right????) was at the learners permit level as this is where one of the biggest changes was.  We were getting comments like “I’m not paying over $500 for a learners permit!”  At which point we politely reminded such people that you don’t actually ‘buy’ and learners permit because that would be illegal.  So what they really meant is “I’m not paying for two days training!”  This is where we find ourselves back at that point called ‘subjective motorcycle riding awesomeness’

This type of attitude is of course not new. So if ‘motorcycle riding awesomeness’ is so common then why are newly minted learners permit riders and first year licence holders over-represented in the crash stats?  Wouldn’t  a widespread outbreak of motorcycle riding awesomeness mean that newly minted learners permit riders and first year licence holders are hardly present in the crash stats?

VicRoads didn’t just suddenly decide one morning that it was going to totally change the way motorcycle training and testing is delivered by its providers because it was working perfectly. C’mon!  Let’s all wake up and smell the roses!

We reckon that anyone who actually bothers to take the time to find out a bit more about the in-coming M-GLS will be pleasantly surprised as to the comprehensive approach (the boring bit) and the fun that can be had (the…well…fun bit!) – at least if you come and do your learners, check ride, or licence at Armstrongs on our brand new Z300’s!!!! Did we mention that????  That is one sweet LAMS approved bike to do your learners, check ride or licence on (we digress).

16ER300B_343REDDRF2CG_C_903_677_60

You can now find all you need to know about the new 2 Day Learners Permit course, Check Rides, and Licence Assessments on our website. Be one of the first to train under the new system.  What have you got to lose?  Who knows, you may even come out a better rider because you spent more time training in a real world environment.  Who would’ve guessed?

Take a look at the new courses and then give us a call!

 

Driver Training Awards Which Driver Training Companies Can’t Win

Nominations for the trucking industry’s 2016 National Training Excellence Award in Driver Training have opened. The purpose of the award is to recognise businesses and programs that demonstrate a specific focus on driver training.

Australian Trucking Association Chief Executive Christopher Melham said that the training excellence award acknowledged those who look to the future of the industry. He also stated that “Training is one of the most essential pillars of industry safety…” and went on to also state that “Businesses that focus on training look beyond today’s profits to invest in tomorrow. This dedication to safety and our industry’s future deserves recognition.”

To be eligible to be nominated, an organisation must be able to demonstrate how they implement and manage a driver training program that fosters continuous improvement. The emphasis will be on how that organisation’s procedures or strategies enhance a safety based culture.

Well, on that basis, the ATA’s Driver Training Excellence Award certainly won’t be awarded to an actual, accredited, driver training (heavy vehicle licensing) organisation.

Is it just us, or can everyone see the sad irony in this?

Such an award SHOULD be hotly contested; not least by Victoria’s twenty-one accredited heavy vehicle training and assessment providers (including Armstrongs). Accredited providers are surely at the forefront of developments in driver training, seeking out new and innovative ways to deliver the best driver training experience to new entrant drivers, ensuring that safe driving behaviours and attitudes are engrained in new entrant drivers during their license training so as to promote a road safety culture, and looking beyond today’s profits in order to provide safe drivers for tomorrow – ok, ok, uncle, uncle, we can’t take any more, we are laughing so hard…and then crying. It’s a sad, sad situation we have all found ourselves in and it’s as serious as a heart attack.

It’s sad, because the transport industry itself has had to take on the driver training role, heavy vehicle license training (in general) has become a rubber-stamp exercise, and today’s profits are the be all and end all – stuff investing in tomorrow! End result is, industry has no faith in heavy vehicle licensing providers, new entrant drivers spend so little time behind that they virtually guarantee no-ne will want to touch them with a barge pole let alone entrust them with a rig and freight, and the industry is therefore forced to employ a large internal driver training team and spend more money on new drivers during a long on-boarding period.

It’s serious, because WE (accredited heavy vehicle training and assessment providers) are supposed to be the gate keepers. It doesn’t matter that the licensing threshold is too low (that’s our personal opinion) because there is nothing wrong with heavy vehicle training providers saying to Joe Blow (who wants a HR licence) over the phone “…don’t worry about the test, after you do 4 or 5 days behind the wheel you’ll be a pretty good driver and the test will be so below your skill level…” But no, somewhere along the line, providers got scared of upsetting the consumer – God forbid they insist that a want-to-be driver actually show some skill and not pose a risk to other road users (like your family and friends – think about it). This is was the beginning of the end…

DSC2067

So, back to the awards. Armstrongs can’t win because we can’t even give away free driver training. It’s a bit hard to show how you are promoting a safety culture when we have to practically drag most of our clients kicking and screaming to even an extra hours training. So in that sense we are forced to walk the fine line that is commercial viability and road safety. And trust us, commercial viability won’t win on our watch (Armstrongs Director sleeps easy at night, if you have met him, you’ll know who we are referring to. He would rather give you back your money than be responsible for putting a risky driver on the road)

But we can relax, it’s not like any of our competitors can win either. Because they don’t even try to drag them kicking and screaming…

If Armstrongs approach to heavy vehicle driver training and assessment speaks to you – and you know whether it does or doesn’t – then check out your heavy vehicle licence options here and give us a call. We’ll be happy to make the best driver you can be – spoiler alert – it’s going to take more than 4 hours!

3 Things Future Riders Need To Know Come March 19

In typical Armstrongs fashion, we have been out there on the front foot promoting the incoming new Motorcycle Graduated Licensing System (M-GLS) all over the place, and boy, have there been some mixed reactions!

But love it or hate it, it’s on its way and wanna’be riders and new learners permit holders are going to have to pretty quickly wean themselves off “quickie” courses that last a couple of hours and cost less than a couple of hundred bucks.

Come March 19, all prospective riders and those on their learners permit and going to need to acquaint themselves with the three stages of licensing and some new ‘words and phrases’.

Stage 1 – Learners Permit.

In with: 2 Days, on-road, standardised, no other option if you want a learners permit, providers actually having to put the work in to make it fun and interesting, quality, confidence.

Out with: short courses, riding experience, getting your learners permit on your lunch break, riding off into the traffic for the first time like a lamb to the slaughter, panicking on your first solo ride.

Stage 2 – Check Ride

In with: well…”Check Ride” we guess!  Also – on-road, compulsory, at least one, worthwhile, actually learning some road craft, going on some great rides out to the north of Armstrongs, going for a ride with another made biker (our trainers!), long lefts, long rights, assessments that are fun, real feedback that you can apply on your ride home.

Out with: Nothing. This is a brand new stage in the license training pathway and we reckon this is where our clients will have a lot of fun and learn a lot!

Stage 3 – Licensing

In with: one-on-one, on-road (there’s a theme here if you haven’t already guessed it), actually being a half decent rider by the time you’re finished.

Out with: more going around in a circle, riding off into the traffic for the second time like a lamb to the slaughter.

learning to drive

So if you’re thinking about getting your learners permit, or your licence, there is a lot to look forward to with the new M-GLS. Sure, not exactly everyone is thrilled with the projected price increase and the introduction of another cost in the form of a compulsory Check Ride but you’re going to get what you pay for – at least at Armstrongs.  We are going out of way to make all stages of the new M-GLS the best rider training experience it can be and to make sure that when our clients think about our courses they think about the ‘value’ of their experience and not just the ‘cost’ of it.

You can find a breakdown of each of the stages and projected course fees here. We’d love to get some feedback from some of the first clients to undertake training and assessment under the new system, so if you’re up for something new then make sure you mention “…after March 19 please…” when you give us a call.

 

 

 

When is a 1 Day Course Really a 3.5 Hour Course?

Consider this hypothetical if you will.

You’re sick of that crumby job and you’ve decided to take up that offer of a driving job extended to you by your best mate “Robbo” who runs a transport company. He needs a couple of HR drivers to move freight from DC’s in and around the Melbourne metro area.

You get right on it and start Googling away like a mad man trying to find the cheapest and shortest course out because “time is money” and Robbo needs you to confirm with him you’ve got the license a.s.a.p because he can’t hold the position open for you for ever.

After having a quick look at all the training providers you make your decision based on how close one of them is to your house (first mistake!), how quick you can get it done (second mistake!!), and how cheap you can get it done for (third mistake!!!).

You’ve ended up booking in for a 1 day HR Synchro course for under a $1,000.00. It starts at 7.30am and finishes at 4pm (…and word on the street is it won’t even take that long).  You reckon you’ve made the right choice and that you’ve got yourself a pretty good deal.

We wouldn’t call approximately $270 per hour to learn to drive a HR Synchro a good deal, but hey, that’s just us…

DSC1824---Copy

Ok, Mr smarty-pants-Armstrongs, what are you talking about now?  Well, that’s what it equates to. Plain and simple.  Here’s how.

  • First, remove the 30 minutes or so it will take to complete your enrolment paperwork when you first walk in the door.
  • Second, take away the 45 minutes (at least) that it will take to complete and mark your theory test (hopefully you studied the night before because there is no time for mistakes).
  • Thirdly, take away the 20 minutes or so you’ll need to complete and have your load securing skills assessed.
  • Fourthly, subtract about another 30 minutes to complete your cabin drill and vehicle inspection training and assessment.
  • Don’t forget to deduct another 20 minutes for your reversing assessment.
  • Then deduct at least 75 minutes for the time it will take to actually complete your driving assessment and the required paperwork.
  • Oh, and lastly, don’t forget to subtract just under 1 hour for the time you will spend doing nothing (lunch, smoko, walking to and from the vehicle).

That leaves you with a grand total of about 3.5 hours to learn the thing you actually thought you came to learn – how to drive a HR Synchro.  Surely, no one in their right mind would be that ignorant (stupid?) to argue that this is enough time to learn how to drive a heavy vehicle in a safe and competent manner and actually be ‘employable’.

So, if you find yourself in this same “hypothetical” situation, remember:

  • You’ve actually been completely ripped off – you just paid about $270 per actual hour of behind-the-wheel training ($950/3.5 hours). That’s hardly what you could call value.
  • Your licence is literally worthless. It’s hard enough to get a driving role as a new entrant driver, let alone one who has only 3.5 hours of drive time under their belt (“Robbo” may be about to find out the hard way).
  • You’re going to get yourself into all manner of sticky situations that you simply won’t have the knowledge or skill to get out of.
  • You’re a risk to other road users, their families and their friends.

If you’re the type of person who thinks that the above is NOT a great outcome, then the solution is simple. Just look for a heavy vehicle courses with as much behind-the-wheel training as possible.  So if a real-life “Robbo” ever offers you a job, remember that when you’re doing the ring-around, focus on getting a straight answer on how many actual behind-the-wheel hours you’ll receive from each potential training provider first, THEN consider proximity to home and course value (pure cost is never an indication of value).

So, if you’re looking for a heavy vehicle licence we’ll be glad to give you an answer on how many hours behind the wheel you’ll receive at Armstrongs and the extra value you’ll receive when you do your training with us. You can find out about all your heavy vehicle licence course options here.  You’ll also find a sneak-peek at what the driving assessment looks like here.  Have a look and then give us a call!

 

 

 

New M-GLS To Put All Training Providers On The Same Playing Field

As at 19 March 2016 all VicRoads Accredited Motorcycle Training and Assessment Providers will be required to deliver motorcycle learners permit and license training in a standardised format in accordance with the new Motorcycle Graduated Licensing System (M-GLS) training and assessment requirements.

The new M-GLS will be introduced to combat fatalities among motorcyclists and in response to research that indicates that rider ‘inexperience’ is a major contributor to Victorian motorcycle crashes – with learner and first year licensed riders comprising almost a third of all motorcycle fatalities and serious injuries!

Under the new M-GLS, motorcycle training organisations will no longer have the flexibility or authority to conduct learners permit or licence course that do not comply with the new M-GLS requirements – specifically the new M-GLS makss no allowances for “experienced” riders and “short courses” have been abolished for all prospective learners permit riders, irrespective of their prior riding knowledge and experience.

That means that all learners permit and license courses under the new M-GLS will be the same – same training timeframes, same training requirements – irrespective of the motorcycle training organisation you go to.

The new M-GLS therefore ensures that every prospective motorcycle learner and first-year rider gets the right amount of training and riding practice in the critical first stages of their training. No ‘ifs, no buts’.

learning to drive

The new M-GLS learners permit course is designed to give new and novice motorcycle riders the opportunity to gain experience and acquire critical riding skills both on the training range and out on the road under the supervision of Armstrongs highly experienced team of trainers.

Under the previous motorcycle training system, ‘how quick can you do it’ and ‘how cheap can you do it’ where the most common questions asked. However, under the new M-GLS, the key questions that anyone thinking of getting their learners permit or licence will need to ask any motorcycle training provider will now be:

  • What facilities do have?You’re going to be there for 2 days now, not 2 hours…

  • What motorcycles do you use for the on-road training?Clapped-out old training bikes might be good for the training range, but you’re going to want something better suited to the road come on-road training time.
  • How long have your trainers been doing this?Trust in your instructor and the training organisation is going to be a big thing under the new M-GLS. You want someone next to you who you can trust as you inch that front wheel out onto the road for the very first time.
  • What other support will you give me during the course?You’ll need to pass certain criteria along the way and if you don’t you may not be able to progress. You don’t want to ever be in a position during your course where you feel as though you’ve been left to work it out for yourself.

  • How will you keep me safe?All going well, you’ll be on the road on your second day of learners permit course (other stages of the M-GLS are also conducted on-road). You’ve literally just learnt to ride and understandably nerves may be starting to creep in as you start to pull out amongst the traffic.  What other measures will the training organisation take to keep you safe whilst you’re out on the road for the first time?

motorcycle licence

Ultimately, who you chose to do your motorcycle learners permit or license training with is going to come down to who you trust. So picture yourself about to go out onto the road for the very first time.  Then ask yourself “who do I trust to watch out for me and keep me safe?”  The answer is simple.  Armstrongs – your motorcycle licensing specialist.

If the thought of a more comprehensive motorcycle training experience (including on-road training) excites you then you can find more detail on the 3-Step process here, then give us a call!

 

 

Better Drivers in 2016? – The Power Is With Industry NOT The Regulator

The New Year is upon us. All the best to everyone out there and we wish all our clients happy and safe driving.

But what did we learn from 2015 that we can take into 2016 regarding heavy vehicle training and assessment? Not much.  Nothing to be precise.  The heavy vehicle licensing regime in its current format continues to ‘churn & burn’ whole geographic areas of Melbourne and beyond.  Some areas of Melbourne have effectively been “licensed out”.  No more available customers.  It appears that every man and his dog has a licence to drive a heavy vehicle.

While the heavy vehicle training industry may not have learnt a thing from 2015 (or 2014, 2013, 2012…), Armstrongs will continue to be vocal about the flaws in the current heavy vehicle licensing regime in the hope of effecting change. Why?  Because we are tired of hearing from our industry contacts that new entrant drivers can’t drive a greasy pole up a monkey’s…ahem…you get the picture.  Also because we are fed-up with being tarred by the transport industry with the same brush as some of our competitors.  We couldn’t be more insulted!

So how do we get better drivers if the “system” is so flawed? Easy!  Because the power to effect change and produce better drivers at the licensing level is actually with the transport industry and NOT with the regulator.  Always has been, always will be.  The regulatory authority obviously has the power to change the heavy vehicle licensing system, but industry has the power to make changes immediately!

Ultimately though it’s the Operations Managers, HR Managers and Training Managers of freight transport and public transport companies that set the quality and quantity of the amount of training that any new prospective applicant driver will need to undertake in order to land a driving role with them.

Therefore, as is the case now, if the industry makes zero demands on new applicant drivers to evidence a minimum of ‘X’ hours of training, having achieved a competency level of ‘X’ percent, across ‘X’ number of driving skills, then industry will continue to get new applicant drivers with zero talent. That’s not brain surgery – that’s not even rocket science.

But isn’t the fact that a new applicant driver has a licence enough? Absolutely not!  The threshold for obtaining your heavy vehicle license under the current regime is so low, and it covers mainly low level and intermediary driving skills, that there is a snowflake’s chance in hell that it can deliver what the industry needs and wants.

BRISBANE, AUS - SEP 24 2014:Traffic on Victoria Bridge in Brisbane.The Victoria Bridge is a vehicular and pedestrian bridge over the Brisbane River.

The point is, Operations Managers, HR Managers and Training Managers need to treat a new entrant driver’s heavy vehicle licence as a mere legal requirement – which is categorically no indication or warranty that the said licence holder knows anything about driving one of your rigs with your clients freight onboard. At this point, Ops Managers and the like need to ask new applicant drivers “so tell me about your driver training.  Where did you do it?  What did it involve?  How long was your course?  How many hours behind-the-wheel training did you receive?”  The list goes on.

See, the problem is not that transport companies and like don’t want to give newly licenced drivers a go, it’s that they have no faith in the current licensing system because there are no minimum training timeframes in place which means accredited providers are allowed to put their own capital interests before road safety and industry’s needs. This results in new entrant drivers struggling to secure a driving role because they haven’t spent enough time behind the wheel, and industry struggling to fill their driving positions because most applicants can’t get past the internal driver evaluation.  This pickle of a situation resulted in someone, somewhere, plucking from thin air the “minimum 2 years driving experience” rule.  There’s no logic to it (ie does 2 years of ‘bad’ driving experience count?) but in lieu of a robust licensing regime the industry had no choice but to try and protect itself from just plain old terrible accident prone drivers somehow.

However it’s not all doom and gloom out there. We are encouraged to see that there are a select few freight transport and public transport companies out there who have contacted us to talk about how they can obtain better driving resources in 2016.

So, to all the Operations Managers, HR Managers and Training Managers of road freight and public transport companies, if you want better drivers start making minimum training demands on your new entrant drivers. To all the new entrant drivers out there, if you want a driving job, start placing minimum’ behind-the-wheel’ training demands on yourself.

armstrong training

C’mon industry! Help us help you.  Forget about “licensing” and start imposing your own needs and wants on the heavy vehicle training industry via new entrant drivers.  You never know, you may actually end up getting what you need and want!

If you’re a proactive road freight or public transport organisation and you want to improve the standard of applicants applying for driving roles with your organisation, give Armstrongs a call and we will be happy to discuss your needs and put together a ‘training pathway’ for new entrant drivers into your organisation. What do you have to lose?  Better drivers…