The head of a national trucking group says it’s encouraging that more provinces are seeing the need for mandatory standardized training for drivers.
There are no minimum training requirements in the industry outside of Ontario, said Stephen Laskowski with the Canadian Trucking Alliance.
“What we are asking for as an alliance is all provinces to adopt a similar approach to Ontario,” Laskowski said Friday.
“There appears to be much more movement on this front, and we’re encouraging the other provinces to work with their local provincial trucking associations to move this file forward.”
The issue was brought to the forefront after a devastating collision in Saskatchewan earlier this month between the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team bus and a semi-truck. Sixteen people were killed and 13 were injured.
The owner of the trucking company involved in the crash, Sukhmander Singh, has said the 30-year-old driver had been working for him for about a month. Singh said he had checked the driver’s credentials before hiring him.
No charges have been laid and the RCMP said it could take weeks before their investigation is complete.
In Ontario, drivers must undergo 103.5 hours of mandatory training. Drivers there must also show they can handle a loaded truck on major highways before they can get their licences.
Even then, it may be some time before companies with strong safety cultures allow new employees to drive a truck solo, Laskowski said.
“That may involve working in the yard, working in the dock, partnering up with another driver until they’re familiar with operating a commercial motor vehicle on a public highway.”
Saskatchewan’s Crown insurance company said in an internal memo sent to driving instructors this week that a mandatory training plan should be in place by next year.
The memo from Saskatchewan Government Insurance said details are still being worked out, but the curriculum is to include at least 70 hours of training in the classroom, yard and behind the wheel.
“As you know, a lot has been in the media following the Humboldt tragedy and there is a spotlight on Class 1 testing and Class 1 driver training and that’s OK. We are all united in wanting to make our roads as safe as possible,” the bulletin said.
It said SGI has been working with the industry and training schools. The company also commended Ontario’s approach.
“We are looking closely at that work and we think there is a lot that can be adapted to a Saskatchewan curriculum. Matching the full 103.5 hours is also a possibility.”
The Saskatchewan government said Friday there’s been consultation with the industry since last July, but no decision about standardized training has been made.
Alberta Transportation has reviewed Ontario’s model and is preparing options for minister Brian Mason to consider, ministry spokesman Graeme McElheran said.
“Alberta Transportation officials and industry stakeholders agree that mandatory training for commercial drivers needs to be effective, affordable and accessible,” McElheran said in a statement. “We need a program that is going to enhance safety without creating insurmountable obstacles for industry.”
The Manitoba government said this week it also is looking at standardized training and certification for commercial truck drivers, Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler said in a release.
“This is something the trucking industry has asked for and we want to work together in a collaborative way to see how this would work in Manitoba.”
By Lauren Krugel in Calgary