Ontario truck training schools group endorses provincial plan

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line associate editor | 6/3/2016

An organization that represents truck training schools in the Canadian province of Ontario is adding its name to a growing list of groups endorsing the province’s new standards for entry-level truck driver training.

The Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario Inc., gave its “thumbs up” to the Ministry of Transportation’s Mandatory Entry-Level Training standards after the MTO agreed to address concerns the group raised with respect to clarifying some of the language and standards outlined in the proposal.

“(The MTO) reacted pretty quickly,” said Kim Richardson, chairman of the board for TTSAO in a phone interview with Land Line. “It was important that we were heard and that this thing be done right, as right as it possibly can be, the first time.”

Richardson said the TTSAO had initially refused to fully endorse the proposal, citing issues with the language and standards around instructor qualifications, night-time training and clear definitions of what constitutes online education and verification of training hours.

“The big thing for us is we need to ensure that the timeline for addressing these situations and scenarios are addressed before full implementation in July 2017,” he said. “It’s important, number one, that they be enforced, because regulations without teeth just don’t work, but more importantly that they are clearly defined.” 

The MTO’s proposal would require any new applicant for a Class A commercial license to successfully complete a mandatory training course before attempting the road test. Nichols says the program will aim to ensure commercial truck drivers are “properly trained, tested and licensed.”

MTO is anticipating full implementation by summer 2017.
Under the mandatory entry-level training program, all organizations that will deliver the training must be registered with the province.

Among the key takeaways from the new training program will be three aspects of core curriculum: in-school, in-yard (inspections) and in-cab. The in-school training is proposed for at least 36.5 hours; in-yard training for 17 hours; and 50 hours of training behind the wheel (32 on-road, 18 off-road), for a total of 103.5 hours. In addition, the proposal calls for 12 hours of air brake training.

Classroom sizes will be limited to 15 students per teacher.

Richardson said the new training standards won’t amount to big changes for established schools that have been delivering the training properly.

“It’s going to help eliminate what we call licensing mills in the province of Ontario,” he said. “You pick up a newspaper or you see advertising online for getting your (commercial) license for $750 and done in 8 hours. There’s a tremendous amount of concern for road safety there, especially if they get to the wrong carrier.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association supports entry-level driver training among its top safety priorities. OOIDA Regulatory Affairs Director Scott Grenerth has said the proposal is another solid step forward toward raising the level of professionalism in the trucking industry.

“These standards will prevent CDL mills from merely providing enough training to set drivers up to fail,” Grenerth said in an interview last month. “Instead, the entry-level driver will get a much more comprehensive education to better prepare them for the responsibilities of operating a commercial motor vehicle.”

In the U.S., the first public steps toward a proposed driver training mandate are close to being completed. The proposed rulemaking on entry-level driver training has cleared its final hurdle before its public debut. It was signed off on by the White House Office of Management and Budget review Feb. 18.

The proposed driver training regulation is the result of the Entry-Level Driver Training Committee. The committee was formed by 26 industry stakeholders as part of a negotiated rulemaking process. The group included representatives from all segments of the industry, including associations such as OOIDA and ATA, trucking schools, trucking companies, special-interest lobbying groups and one lone owner-operator.

The group agreed on mandated curriculum areas as well as a minimum 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training and a registry of driver training providers.

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