Mission (Mostly) Impossible – HR to MC

At Armstrongs we get a lot of inquiries from current HR licence holders about how they can get their MC licence. Although the jump from HR to MC is legally permitted, this is not something that Armstrongs supports or recommends. While most give us the opportunity to explain why, some are adamant that it’s a conspiracy designed by Armstrongs to get more money out them by making them do more training.

Heaven forbid they should have to do more training! Is it just us, or do you think that most of the road going public would expect that someone behind the wheel of a 60 tonne, 26 metre, killing machine which takes at least 200 meters to come to a stop at 100kms p/h would have done a reasonable amount of training before they were let loose??? Umm….we do.


Think of it this way – would you get on a plane if you knew that the pilot, who normally flew a little Cessna, had only a couple hours of experience behind the controls of the A320 that you and your family were about to get on? No, of course you wouldn’t. Yet somehow some HR drivers fail to accept the monumental jump in licence category that they are seeking to attempt.

Enough scaremongering, the point is clear – hopefully.

What HR drivers with MC aspirations need to appreciate is that there are a lot of factors going against them – and consequences for trying to skip the Heavy Combination licence category. If you’re a HR licence holder, keep these things in mind when considering whether to try and skip the HC category and go straight to the MC

  • You are going from a rigid vehicle, to a vehicle with not one, but two articulation points. That means a one centimetre steering input results in a two foot swing down the back.
  • MC courses are not designed to teach you how to drive a HC. HC courses are designed to teach you how to drive a HC.
  • MC courses are designed to teach experienced HC licence holders how to ‘drive’ the extra length (that is, the B trailer).
  • If you’ve never tried to reverse a semi, then you have next to no chance of successfully being able to reverse an MC. This is not a matter of opinion, it’s a matter of fact. MC’s do not behave in the same way as a HC does – especially when reversing.
  • If you attempt your MC from a HR and you fail the HC component of your training, you will be prohibited from undertaking the MC component until you can pass the HC component. Makes sense. However, you can’t just keep trying to pass the HC and you will be restricted to one retest per day.
  • Going from HR to MC is financially risky. If you book a MC course and fail the HC component, then any additional course money you have paid (essentially for the MC component) will have to be used to give you extra training and testing at the HC level. That means if and when you eventually pass your HC, you’ll just have to pay again to undertake training and assessment at the MC level.
  • In a similar way, if you pass your HC but fail your MC component, you’ll be faced with the choice of either (1) having paid more initially but then having to walk away with only a HC licence; or (2) paying more money to get additional MC training. How many more hours will you need? How long is a piece of string?
  • We haven’t heard of anyone employing MC drivers with no HC experience and who can’t reverse a single, let alone a double.

If by this stage you’re still thinking that an MC is a walk in the park and you are adamant to give it a shot, Armstrongs recommends you book in for your HC first. This will ensure that you don’t bite off more than you can chew and you won’t be risking more money than you need to up-front. By booking into a HC course first, you will also be able to get a good feel for articulated vehicles and some insight into the challenges you’ll face should you want to pursue your MC. A lot of HR licence holders suddenly have an epiphany right about here and give up on pursuing their MC until they have some HC experience! Once you pass your HC you can then book in for your MC.

You should think of getting an MC licence as a licence ‘upgrade’. The heavy vehicle graduated licensing system is designed in such a way to allow progression through the various licence categories in a manageable and incremental fashion for sound reasons. Deciding to skip a crucial step in that process is only inviting trouble.