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

ABC (Australia) - - CONTENTS - WORDS PAUL ALDRIDGE

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.

JUDGE­MENT DAY

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

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