Province of Ontario seeks mandatory training for new truck drivers

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | Friday, October 17, 2014

The top transportation official in the Canadian province of Ontario is calling for mandatory entry-level driver training for truck drivers.

Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca issued a statement saying he’s working with Reza Moridi, who is the Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, to make sure the government is on the same page about training and licensing.

“The safety of our roads and its users is always our number one priority. It is a responsibility that I personally take very seriously,” Del Duca said in the statement.
 
“Part of that road safety is ensuring that commercial drivers are properly tested and licensed.
 
“There have been recent changes made to the commercial vehicle testing regime, including a training standard for class AZ driver’s license training programs introduced in 2010,” he said. “Since that time, we have seen the number of fatal collisions involving large trucks is at a five-year low; however, there is always more to be done.”

His statement continued to say “… we want to make sure we get it right and we want to make sure we get it in place soon.”

Del Duca said the province will work with industry stakeholders to figure out the best models.

Joanne Ritchie, executive director of the Owner-Operators Business Association of Canada, said the important thing is that the transportation and training ministries are working together.

“We have no mandatory training. And there’s no connection between the people who do the training and the department that does the licensing,” Ritchie told Land Line.

“What this has done is it has raised it to a level where it might get on an agenda and stay there,” Ritchie said.

Earlier this week, the Toronto Star ran an expose on unregulated truck driver training schools in Ontario, revealing what the news agency says are “major flaws” in the way drivers are trained and licensed.

According to the Star’s investigation, a prospective truck driver can pay less than $1,000 for a training course – which is unregulated – and get a license without ever driving on a major highway.

“I would be surprised if the (minister’s) announcement wasn’t related to what’s going on right now,” Ritchie said.

She said she believes training new truckers goes beyond safety and into driver productivity and pride.

“The big winners for training may be the carriers, and not just for the safety component, but for hiring and keeping good drivers,” Ritchie said.

In the U.S., the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association continues to advocate for mandatory entry-level driver training. The Association recently launched Truckers for Safety to urge Congress to adopt new standards.

Congress put out the call for new standards in 2012, but to date has not developed a formal rulemaking.

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