If the vehicle you drive is bigger than an average car, then there is a likely chance you will need to apply for some kind of heavy vehicle licence. But in Melbourne, VicRoads offers 5 categories of heavy vehicle driver’s licence: light rigid (LR), medium rigid (MR), heavy rigid (HR), heavy combination (HC) and multi combination (MC). So what is up with the three levels of rigidness for these vehicles? And just how heavy is a HR vehicle? Here’s what you need to know.
How heavy is your vehicle?
Heavy vehicles are described as weighing over 4.5 tonnes. But to be categorised as a HR vehicle, it would have a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of more than 8 tonnes.
How many axles does your vehicle have?
Axles can also be described as the number of wheel sets a vehicle has, to the casual observer. If your vehicle has more than 2 axles, it is considered at least a HR vehicle – regardless of if the axles are on the road or not.
What is the structure of the vehicle?
The different between a HR and HC vehicle comes down to its structure. HC vehicles are typically characterised as semi-trailers, but it does not mean HR vehicles that tow become HC vehicles. A vehicle is still in the HR category if it is towing a single trailer that is not a semi-trailer, and makes up a GVM of no more than 9 tonnes. Another type of vehicle is an articulated bus. These buses are comprised of two rigid sections that are connected by a pivoting joint called the articulation. Articulated buses allow for rotary movement, larger passenger capacity and access for passengers between each of the rigid sections of the vehicle. In Melbourne, articulated buses are in the HR category according to VicRoads regulations.
Once you have established that the vehicle you are driving is indeed a HR type, then you need to apply for the licence. To apply you need to have a Victorian car licence and been holding an Australian car driver licence for at least 24 months. This holding period includes learner and probationary periods, but excludes suspension and disqualification periods. There are also various tests and assessments you need to pass: eyesight, knowledge test, on-road driving and off-road skills. You also need to meet national medical standards regardless of whether you area a private or commercial heavy vehicle driver.
The good thing about getting a HR licence, is that you will be able to drive MR and LR vehicles legally as well. However, HC and MC licences requires extra training. HR is a great one to have if you are starting out on the job as it will help you manage various driving responsibilities without overwhelming yourself at the same time. Just be sure to get professional training and advice from heavy vehicle instructors in Melbourne so that you are compliant within the VicRoads jurisdiction. There are plenty of industry-standard HR licence training places around Melbourne, so be sure to do your research and ask lots of questions!