Canadian Underwriter

Road safety at heart of Ontario move to introduce mandatory, entry-level Training for Class A Truck Drivers

June 29, 2016   by Canadian Underwriter

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The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) has welcomed the announcement by transportation minister Steven Del Duca that mandatory, entry-level training will be adopted for new tractor-trailer drivers.

Modern dark blue semi truck reefer trailer profile on roadDel Duca said Wednesday all new commercial Class A truck drivers will need to successfully complete mandatory, entry-level training through an approved training provider before attempting the Class A road test. A Class A licence is needed to drive a commercial motor vehicle towing a trailer exceeding 4,600 kg.

The mandatory course “will take approximately four to six weeks to complete and course fees will be set by individual training providers,” notes a bulletin from Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation. “Schools approved by the province have a year to develop a curriculum using a consistent provincial training standard,” it states, adding that the new Commercial Truck Driver Training Standard (Class A) will be available early July 2016.

The mandatory training will be delivered by private career colleges, Ontario colleges of applied arts and technology and recognized authorities under the ministry’s Driver Certification Program. Course completion will be recorded by approved training providers on a provincial web-based system and verified by Drive Test Centres prior to allowing an applicant to attempt a Class A road test.

The new requirement is scheduled to come into force July 1, 2017. Individuals who already have a Class A licence before this date will not be required to take training, the bulletin points out.

“The introduction of mandatory training, in addition to knowledge and road tests, is designed to ensure that commercial truck drivers are properly trained before they are tested,” Del Duca (pictured below right) notes in the bulletin.

Steven Del Duca, Ontario's Minister of Transportation

Steven Del Duca, Ontario’s Minister of Transportation

Beyond improving road safety and addressing the industry’s need for qualified and well-trained commercial Class A truck drivers, the bulleting states, the change will also help with “eliminating inadequate training through unregistered truck schools.”

“The new standard will help to produce higher quality commercial drivers and ultimately make our roads safer for everyone,” notes Kim Richardson, chairman of the board for the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario.

Adds Mike Millian, president of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada: “Overall the mandatory entry-level training standard is a great win for the industry and will help to raise the profile of the job of the professional driver in our industry. The standard will also go a long way in removing the unqualified licensing mill training schools from our industry.”

Calling the move a game-changer for the province, OTA chief executive officer David Bradley says in a statement that Ontario will become the first jurisdiction in the country to introduce mandatory, entry-level training for tractor-trailer drivers.

“Ontario is leading the way in further improving highway safety and helping the industry ensure it has an adequate supply of consistently trained, quality new drivers in the future,” Bradley says. “The days of basically being able to walk in off the street and take the tractor-trailer test with no training whatsoever are over,” he adds.

The change will also inject consistency in the basic level of driving competency exhibited by licensed Class A drivers, Bradley suggests. “Simply getting the Class A licence has not been a sufficient indicator that a person has the basic skills that a carrier can then mold into a professional truck driver,” he says.

Details of the new minimum training standard are expected to be released next week, notes the OTA statement.

That said, Bradley notes, “we have a pretty good idea of what the standard will look like.” It is expected the new standard will require a minimum of 103.5 hours of training (115.5 hours if the MTO air brake course is included), OTA adds.

“Given the level of input from industry – including carriers, drivers, insurance companies, training schools and safety organizations – we are in strong support,” Bradley emphasizes.