Class 2 achieved, with the help of the brilliant trainers at TR Driver Training.
Photo: It might have been little, but the 300 had two very important, increasingly rare features: a third pedal and a manual gearbox.
I was a bit perturbed, having left the Rotorua TR Driver Training offices where I’d just completed the class 2 truck driver licence theory and logbook sessions with affable instructor Garry Thrupp. The overall feeling I got was that there was an assumption the learners have had some exposure to or experience in trucking. As we worked through the study guides and assessments as produced by MITO New Zealand and the NZ Transport Agency, it was a case of page upon page (well over 230) of theory. Thankfully, TR Driver Training sent out the study guides in advance, which for a couple of weeks took me back to my uni days of trying to juggle work with study. Having had only a year’s exposure to the industry in the New Zealand context, I wanted to ensure I was as clued up as possible before entering the classroom with Gary.
Nonetheless, truckies in general are hands-on, practical types, so I pondered the effectiveness of books and classrooms. With a lifetime of experience behind him, Gary speaks the truckies’ language and reiterated all the more important sections in a relatable way. I still expected some practical tuition before hitting the road for my test evaluation. Luckily this was to come a week later (it should have been two days, but work commitments had to take priority) when I met instructor Dale Brunskill at the TR Group Tauranga depot. We were straight into the yard and Dale – also with a wealth of experience to call upon – explained his approach to the art of the pre-trip inspection and loading of a 2-axle truck. With the opening logbook entry made, it was straight into the driver’s seat so Dale could evaluate my driving style. My enthusiasm was dampened a little when I was introduced to the 8.5-tonne Hino 300 917 Crew Cab I’d be driving… There were other, much larger class 2 trucks in the yard that both of us agreed would be better for an evaluation drive, except for the fact that Dale refuses to do an evaluation unless it’s in a truck with a manual transmission. The lone manual 300 was it.
Photo: Prescribed unit standards form the base of modern truck driving knowledge.
“If you master the skills needed to smoothly and efficiently drive a manual, you’ll be able to get the best out of any automatic,” he said. However, it doesn’t necessarily work the other way around. I fully agreed with Dale’s sentiment on that one. Within the space of a two-hour tour that took in the tightest urban roads, some highway, and the most challenging rural routes Dale knew of in the greater Tauranga area, he had identified and helped me rectify most of my bad habits. Confident in my abilities behind the wheel it was back to the yard for a yarn and quick cup of tea before hitting the road again for the actual evaluation. Happily, I now have a class 2 endorsement on the back of my licence card. However, Dale was quick to point out that all this means, for anybody moving up the licence ranks, is that they’ve met the absolute minimum prescribed standard to be able to drive that class of vehicle. The only thing left for me to do then, is to get behind the wheel as much as possible – and preferably with those far more experienced than I am.
The begining of Gav's journey