Technical Writer Paul Aldridge heads to the Accredited Heavy Vehicle Training (AHVT) in Sydney to sit his HR unrestricted licence in the second of this two part series
Having become acquainted with the staff at Accredited Heavy Vehicle Training, it’s time to get behind the wheel
In last month’s edition of ABC, I spoke with Accredited Heavy Vehicle Training (AHVT) manager Steve Grima, driver trainer Jon Attard, and driver trainer and assessor Tony Stephens about the process of acquiring a licence and what makes the company tick. Having received the lowdown, it was my turn to hit the track.
ON THE ROAD
Day one of my two- day course started early at Moorebank at 6.30am. I felt nervous – like a teenager going for their rst drivers licence. It’s been a long time since being behind the wheel made me feel this way.
My trainer, Jon Attard, has been in the industry all his working life.
Experience shows in his approach to the students as he was very business-like and professional, very knowledgeable, and was happy to explain over and over until he could see that I was con dent to proceed.
We started with pre- departure safety checks and instructions on the safety aspects of the truck.
Attard drove to Smeaton Grange while he explained and demonstrated the process of double shuf ing and applying the correct revs to match the engine and gearbox.
Initially, this process looked a lot more complicated than I had anticipated. My rst drive started in second gear, third gear, then fourth gear, and this is where the fun begins.
There is a splitter button on the gearstick which takes you into fth gear. To slow the truck, you need to ick the splitter button again to go back down the gears, and when you get up to the eighth gear there is another splitter button!
If it sounds complicated to manoeuvre through 18 gears, it is. Initially you think you will never comprehend something this complicated but Attard worked with me through it until it all clicked.
Coming into this, I felt I was a pretty experienced and con dent driver but I was very grateful for Jon’s patience and expertise. I think his approach would be invaluable for an inexperienced heavy vehicle driver.
Attard really stressed the importance of driver patience when gearing down to
slow the vehicle or to manoeuvre a corner and how to correctly time-manage the gears to prepare for what’s ahead on the road. A lot of what he taught was the mental approach to operating the vehicle and how to constantly monitor your driving to ensure safety.
At the end of day one Attard explained the upcoming process that would happen in day two, going through the points he thought I needed to master in our last session the next day. He pointed out that I had the ability to get things right but he gave me advice on what to think about and prepare for the assessment.
I will admit I didn’t sleep too well that night but felt prepared that I had done everything to succeed.
The next morning I spent a few hours with Attard practicing and going over the key points of gearing. We drove in an area that is commonly used for testing and he gave me scenarios that I might expect to face in the assessment. He also went over all the driver testing criteria that I would have to pass, and by the end of our session I felt a lot more con dent to face the hour of driving.
During your nal driving assessment, an in- cabin camera and GPS technology records both your driving and the road and traf c outside. This procedure was brought into effect in 2014 by the RMS. Although this could seem intimidating, by the time I came to this part of the process I felt that Attard had me to the point that I was con dent I could pass if all went well. He assured me that there is up to a 98 per cent pass rate – so even with eyes watching and knowing I had to write this article, I was determined not to be the minority.
The test process started off with in- depth vehicle checks, and then you are asked to proceed and follow the assessor’s instructions. A few times I re- checked his instructions as nerves were making me second-guess myself but the hour thankfully ew by with nothing remarkable happening.
I had Attard’s voice in the back of my head telling me to constantly tell myself what gear I’m in, and this helped me not let the nerves get in the way of my driving.
I wasn’t overly con dent I had passed, as the test is understandably formal, but I did feel like I hadn’t made any major mistakes in the driving assessment.
PATIENCE IS KEY
Previously, if I were to ask a manager of a thriving business what contributed to their success, and the response was patience, I might not really have understood.
But being in the driver’s seat and lacking con dence and knowledge in an industry that I have been in for 17 years, I was more than grateful that patience was a key virtue at Accredited Heavy Vehicle Training.
Thanks to Attard’s training and guidance I passed my HR Licence with a result of 98 per cent and look forward to my rst drive in a 3-axle coach soon.
I was more than grateful that patience was a key virtue at AHVT