December 8, 2021 by Greg Meckbach
Two years after flagging the issue, Ontario’s auditor general says the transportation ministry has made “little to no progress” in mandating formal training for drivers of all large commercial vehicles.
In Ontario, Class A licensed commercial operators need a formal course, with 103.5 hours of instruction. But this only applies to tractor-trailer combinations where the trailer weighs more than 4,600 kilograms, or 10,000 pounds. It does not apply to other licence classes, such as D.
“We found that drivers of large trucks that do not require the completion of [mandatory entry-level training] appear to pose a significant risk to road users,” Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk wrote in her latest report released Dec. 1.
In 2019, Lysyk recommend the MTO evaluate the benefits of mandating entry level training for additional classes of drivers other than A class.
But in a follow-up report released Dec. 1, 2021, the office of the auditor general said the MTO only fully implemented 18% of the recommendations from its 2019 report. One of the recommendations which has not been implanted is the extension of mandatory formal training courses to drivers of large vehicles other than tractor-trailer combinations.
“In the example of a dump truck, which can be operated with a Class D licence, the dump bucket of the truck is not considered a trailer because it is fixed to the truck’s frame. Because licence restrictions are based on the weight of a vehicle and the load it is towing for trucks, and passenger capacity for buses, it is not always easy to determine what commercial vehicles require what type of licence,” the Office of the Auditor General said in its 2019 report.
“In our follow-up, we found that the Ministry has not yet evaluated the benefits of requiring additional classes of new commercial drivers to take MELT, nor has it extended MELT to additional classes of new commercial drivers,” the auditor general’s office said in its Dec. 1, 2021 report. “The Ministry informed us that it will first complete its review on the effectiveness of MELT for Class A drivers by the end of 2021 before evaluating the benefits of extending such training to additional classes of new commercial drivers.’
The transportation ministry is acting on some of the recommendations from 2019. As case in point is a checklist for all key steps to be undertaken during inspections.
In its 2019 report, the auditor general noted that the performance of roadside inspections is largely at the discretion of each individual enforcement officer who conducts them.
“In 2021, In our follow-up, the (transportation ministry) advised us that it intends to implement a digital checklist for roadside inspections so that inspectors have to indicate that they completed all components and steps of an inspection. The Ministry intends to include this checklist in its new Roadside Data Capture (RDC) system which will be used to document inspections and ensure each part of an inspection is completed. Enforcement officers will be required to check off and verify whether their inspection has been completed in accordance with CVSA procedures for each inspection completed.”
As for Class D licensing, motorists must pass a vision test, submit a medical report and pass both a knowledge test and road test. A Class D licence lets the operator drive a truck with a gross weight exceeding 24,000 pounds, or any truck or combination exceeding 24,000 pounds provided the towed vehicle does not weigh more than 10,000 pounds.
Feature image via iStock.com/vitpho