Alberta moves forward with driver training program after crash that killed 16

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line Digital Content Editor | Thursday, July 12, 2018

A proposal that would mandate driver training for new commercial drivers is expected to be implemented in the province of Alberta as early as January, according to the province’s Transportation Ministry.

Transportation Minister Brian Mason cited a recent deadly crash involving a commercial tractor-trailer and bus transporting the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team in Saskatchewan on April 6. Sixteen people were killed and another 13 were injured in the crash. The driver of the semi-truck, Jaskirat Sidhu, faces 29 criminal charges including 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death.

In July 2016, the province of Ontario became the first jurisdiction in North America to introduce mandatory entry-level driver training for commercial truckers. The driver training policy took effect on July 1 of this past year. The U.S. has its own entry-level driver training policy which is scheduled to take effect in 2020.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association supports entry-level driver training among its top safety priorities.

Johanne Couture, a senior OOIDA member from Brockville, Ont., who trucks in the U.S. and Canada, called Alberta’s announcement “a step in the right direction.”

“It’s showing that some jurisdictions are listening and seeing that this needs to be done now,” Couture said in a phone interview with Land Line Now. “It’s something that should have been done 30 years ago. But it needs to be done now.”

She said the crash “added pressure to the whole industry to make this mandatory now.”

“I think Alberta has stepped up,” she said. “This is a pretty quick timeline for them to come up with a program by January 2019 into full implementation. Ontario took over a year from their announcement to their implementation date.

In addition to mandating entry-level driver training, the Ministry also announced it would be launching consultations with citizens and key stakeholder groups on two other transportation initiatives:

  • Pre-entry requirements for new commercial carriers.
  • Modifying the road test model for all driver’s license classes.

“Safety on Alberta roads is a top priority and a commitment of our government,” Mason said in a news release announcing the proposals. “We have laid the groundwork for changes that will enhance safety and improve services for Albertans. Now we need to hear from Albertans and stakeholders about the best approach.”

In a news conference on Tuesday, July 10, Mason said the province would also eliminate a temporary certificate that had been issued to commercial drivers allowing them to operate while working to get their safety fitness certificates.

Land Line Now correspondent Mary McKenna contributed to this report.

Related stories:
Ontario's mandatory entry level training plan now in effect

 

 

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