Making a training program for truck drivers mandatory in Alberta is expected to make roads safer for all drivers. Research and Development Lead with Continuing Education at Grande Prairie Regional College Chad Boone says the government’s recent announcement is a positive move for the industry.
“Required trainings for any individual prior to getting their Class 1 or Class 3 is a step towards making the roads safer for all motorists and also for those Class 1 and 3 drivers.”
Transportation Minister Brian Mason announced earlier this week that a mandatory training program for truck drivers will be introduced early next year. It will apply to anyone seeking their Class 1 (tractor trailer), 2 (bus), and S (school bus) licences.
Improved regulations had reportedly been in the works last year, but Mason says the Humboldt Broncos fatal bus crash pushed it up the priority list.
“Clearly, the terrible tragedy has focused everyone on the need to do even more to make sure that our highways and trucking system are as safe as possible.”
GPRC offers Professional Driver Training courses, including those for Class 1 and 3 drivers. Boone says even before the crash that killed 16 people, he was seeing more companies interested in training for their employees.
“I think this is something that would have happened organically. It seems that all industries have been placing greater emphasis on employee training over the last few years, to the extent that GPRC’s Continuing Education has actually been approached by different companies to provide custom Class 1 training.”
Boone argues the majority of companies see the benefits of training, which include lower accident rates, less wear and tear on vehicles, as well as safer cargo, drivers, and roads.
The mandatory entry-level training program is expected to start in January 2019. Exactly what it will look like is still being worked on, with consultations planned for July. GPRC has already been given surveys, but Boone says he’s hoping for a face-to-face meeting.
“We’re excited to see what changes the government are going to be rolling out. We have already begun the process of identifying training that we could add on to our existing product.”
The province is also looking at introducing requirements for new commercial carriers starting a business in Alberta to prove they comply with national standards before getting safety certification. Currently, they have a 60 day period.
Changes to the road test model for all classes of drivers are also in the works and could include taking them back from the private sector. An independent report in 2016 found issues in the industry like inconsistent road test fees, poor service and even criminal activity.