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Driving Schools – Why not get it right!


Just read James Menzies article “Cutting Corners” front page of July Truck News and thought it was spot on, congratulation to him, we need folks to start a dialogue on this issue and it needs to change. I agree whole heartedly with him but I do have a different twist on his thinking. In that this industry is the same as any other in a free market system, you have read this before coming from me, and it is simple supply versus demand. When there are too many trucks for the freight that is available, the rates go down, when there is more freight than trucks then the rates go up. It really is simple, and it really is a joke to take seriously any argument that would try to support the idea that there has been a driver shortage for the past 25 years. If this were the case the rates would be dictated by the service provider not by the shippers who have been squeezing truckers till they have no margins left for far too long. When trucking companies buy too many trucks and can’t find drivers for them that isn’t a driver shortage, its poor management at best and it seriously hurts the industry but it’s not a driver shortage.
Add to this a government that is ignorant to the transportation industry as a whole and the frustration level climbs exponentially. With the size and complexity of this industry and the fact that the transportation sector is the number largest employer of men in this country, wouldn’t you think our representatives in Ottawa would pay a little more attention to the trucking industry, it boggles the mind! Speed limiters, safety blitzes, safety audits on and on but no minimum training standard for entry level drivers. I know I rant about this a little too much for some of you but I get emails all the time from people who have been stiffed by one of these crapola training schools and it bothers me to think that these scammers are allowed to exist. Exist hell most of the folks who write me have had their training paid for with our tax dollars, that’s right we the tax payer are allowing our tax dollars to support these sleazy operations, it’s just wrong any way you slice it and no one seems to care in our government or in our industry associations.
Want to take a huge step towards fixing this industry financially; want to improve the quality and professionalism of your fellow drivers? Regulate these schools with a standardized training curriculum that will ensure they get the training that is needed, not just enough to pass a one hour driving test. I am talking 400 plus hour’s minimum with mandated one on one behind the wheel driving with a driver trainer who has been certified as an instructor by the government to a minimum standard.
I am starting to think that I am losing it; it seems obvious to me where fixing this industry should start and guess what it is at the start with the proper training of the new drivers coming into the industry. Increasing training times will slow down new entrants to the industry, which scares the heck out of trucking companies. But guess what it will also drive rates up and get everyone a bigger paycheck, supply and demand remember? In addition increasing the training standards would be much more effective in the safety arena that any speed limiter will ever be. Add to this the obvious result of better qualified entry level drivers that have a ten fold better chance of being successful and staying in the industry!
Safe Trucking


Ray Haight

Ray Haight

Mr. Ray Haight has enjoyed a successful career in transportation starting as a company driver and Owner Operator logging over one million accident free miles prior to starting his own company. After stepping down from a successful career managing one of Canada’s 50 largest trucking companies, Ray focused on industry involvement including terms as Chairman of each of the following, the Truckload Carriers Association, Professional Truck Drivers Institute, North American Training and Management Institute and the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities voluntary apprenticeship of Tractor Trailer Commercial Driver, along with many other business interests, he enjoys a successful consulting business, also sitting on various Boards of both industry associations a private motor carriers. He is also Co-Founder of StakUp O/A TCAinGauge an online bench marking service designed to assist trucking companies throughout North America focus on efficiency and profitability within their operations.
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28 Comments » for Driving Schools – Why not get it right!
  1. luke winkels says:

    If you are running for parliament you got my vote. This is a supply and demand industry always has been always will be. With a slow or stagnant economy everyone who hits the unemployment lines is encouraged to become truckdriver. This keeps the training pipeline overflowing and the supply overfilled and the quality is obvious on the road.( Interesting that trucking is considered unskilled labour yet requires a training course and a special licence) Keep hammering ray. luke

    • Rob Vienneau says:

      What about the people who are trying to get there license and can’t afford the tuition as it is now. If you add more hours of training will it not raise the tuition costs to be less affordable? I understand more hours would be better but it seems I’m fighting an uphill battle trying to get my license.

      • Ray Haight says:

        Rob as I point out in the article over 50% of all prospective drivers use some sort of government assistance, if the facility you are talking to hasn’t offered to assist in helping you access some assistance in this regard let me know and I will point you in the right direction!
        Ray

        • GOTTGirl says:

          Our truck school faces potential student everyday who do not fit into the “suitability matrix” of any of the funding programs. Students attending Public career colleges or courses over 12 weeks are able to apply for OSAP but otherwise there is little assistance from the government. Individuals who work full-time, do not collect social assistance, or are not part of any minority group tend to be left high-and-dry. I offer loans but debt is never a good solution. I often find these individuals to be potentialy great truck drivers but the successful applicants for government funding aren’t always the best fit for the industry.

          Government funding is not a reliable solution to high truck training tuitions.

          • Ray Haight says:

            You know what, I think your right that is not a perfect solution but let’s be realistic about it, government funding is the solution for more than 50% of entry level drivers into the industry, it’s a hand up!
            But it should only be a hand up if the candidate has a high likelihood of success and is going to get proper training from a good school facility!
            Our provincial government has squandered hundreds of millions on moving gas plants and producing electricity that we now have to sell to get rid of, as far as I am concerned like everything else the Liberals have had anything to do with funding is a mess but it can be fixed and I would rather see our elected fools investing in people rather than all the other money pits that they seem to enjoy dumping our tax dollars into!
            Ray

    • Ray Haight says:

      Thanks for the endorsement Luke!
      Ray

  2. Rotimi Tola says:

    I have a bit of difficulty to understand Ray’s argument in this article, which is leading me to ask this question, are the truckers interested in being properly remunerated for their services, or in being respected as professionals? I think the former is the case, because drivers think, and rightly so that they put in lots of hours into this profession just as nurses, doctors, pilots do, and therefore need to be well remunerated for the lots of time they put into completing product deliveries.
    Secondly, Ray thinks the driving schools need to be more highly regulated, but he is not mindful of how this will be adding up to already huge lists of regulations on the drivers. If one looks at what is happening in the industry, I do not think there is issue with drivers ensuring safety of lives and properties they deliver, except that there are too many of them, which is causing shippers to think of their availability as a ‘dime a dozen’ type of thing, Nevertheless, this is not the result of quick turnaround by driver training schools, nor is this the result of improper regulating of driver training schools.
    Finally, you can professionalize all you want, this will not likely increase the earnings for the drivers, which is the major reason behind why most drivers find it unattractive to remain in the industry. And if you go by the law of supply and demand as explained by Ray, this will likely lead to shortage in driver availability as a result of insufficient number coming our of ‘Ray college’, which also will lead to increased pay for moving the goods, and guess what, that increase in cost will end up being passed to the consumers.

    • Ray Haight says:

      I have a bit of difficulty to understand Ray’s argument in this article, which is leading me to ask this question, are the truckers interested in being properly remunerated for their services, or in being respected as professionals? I think the former is the case, because drivers think, and rightly so that they put in lots of hours into this profession just as nurses, doctors, pilots do, and therefore need to be well remunerated for the lots of time they put into completing product deliveries.


      Comment
      I strongly believe they want both and why not, they deserve it one does not need to at the exclusion of the other every human being want and deserves respected!

      Secondly, Ray thinks the driving schools need to be more highly regulated, but he is not mindful of how this will be adding up to already huge lists of regulations on the drivers.

      Comment
      The question is should entry-level drivers be made to train to an expectable minimum standard, the answer to this is yes! Undoubtedly, if the only measure is the passing of a road test, which in many cases is administered by someone who has never, driven for a living and by a outsourced 3rd party, that is a bad scenario in my mind and that is what we have now!

      If one looks at what is happening in the industry, I do not think there is issue with drivers ensuring safety of lives and properties they deliver, except that there are too many of them, which is causing shippers to think of their availability as a ‘dime a dozen’ type of thing, Nevertheless, this is not the result of quick turnaround by driver training schools, nor is this the result of improper regulating of driver training schools.


      Comment
      I get email all the time from folks who just got their license who cant get a job because of the fact that the companies they go to are telling them that their training was of the standard that they can be hired. The retaining would be to expensive, how can this be explained but with the fact that there is no minimum standard for these facilities?

      Finally, you can professionalize all you want, this will not likely increase the earnings for the drivers, which is the major reason behind why most drivers find it unattractive to remain in the industry. And if you go by the law of supply and demand as explained by Ray, this will likely lead to shortage in driver availability as a result of insufficient number coming our of ‘Ray college’, which also will lead to increased pay for moving the goods, and guess what, that increase in cost will end up being passed to the consumers.

      Comment!
      The Ray College you speak of does not offend me if that was your goal, if the Ray college means that an individual has been trained to an expectable minimum standard and their likelihood of success in increased exponentially, bring it on. On your last point, which is very weak in my mind, what if each driver was paid an additional $200.00 per week or let’s say 10K per year, brake it down, are you telling me that spreading that cost of 2 – 4 trailer loads of goods hauled by the typical driver in a week is going to have a dramatic impact on the consumer and they economy, I think not. My good friend John Kaburick who hauls produce based in St Louis calculated a 10% increase to his Owner Operators hauling a load of onions at approximately 5 cents on each bag, come on man your argument has whole I can drive a truck through!
      Ray

      REPLY

  3. Henry Van Veen says:

    If you make it more difficult and more expensive to get a license you will get less people using transportation as a job of last resort. You will in turn get only those that are interested in being a “professional driver”, there will be less drivers, higher demand for transportation which will lead to higher wages.

  4. John Wihksen says:

    Hi Ray, I have been involved in the Trucking Industry since 1961. Through this time frame as a Cl-1 driver-driver Instructor-truck sales-Fleet Management and Commercial Accident Investigation. Trucking should be established as a Trade in all Provinces and a Government course for a six month period leading to a three year apprenticeship similar to other Trades. This would minimize the Commercial Accidents as we have today. Canadian high school graduates would be interested in a Trucking career and eliminate overseas recruiting. The” Driver shortage” is due to low wages attracting only unskilled people.

    • Ray Haight says:

      I thoroughly agree that the voluntary apprenticeship that now exist in “Ontario Tractor Trailer Commercial Driver” should be mandatory and that it should have a “Red Seal” designation as a skilled trade across Canada! I would have to think through your timelines but I basically endorse your line of thought here John
      Thanks Much
      Ray

      • Doug B says:

        I agree with John. Especially the last line. Also, who in their right mind would go through the time and expense for a $16 per hour job.
        The Red Seal designation is a pipe dream. The Red Seal folks wouldn’t want their recognition brought to a lower standard based on the caliber of some drivers on the road today.
        Carriers need to quit negotiating freight rates on the backs of the driver and start to increase rates substantially in order to attract better skilled drivers.

    • Ray Haight says:

      I agree I think the terminology is Red Seal when the apprenticeship is recognized across Canada, I agree add to the conversation by deeming truck drivers as skilled labour and now we have something to aspire to!
      Ray

  5. Professional Trainer from non registered school says:

    I agreed with Ray article fully. There should be 400 plus hours training ONE ON ONE behind the wheels not just in class showing applicants just youtube old videos. The main cause for this problem which is hurting everyone in the trucking industry is Free Air Brake Endorsement licence. More than 80% new and old drivers can not pass the air brake written and practical tests. More than 90% new applicants who go for truck training get their
    Z endorsement free over the weekend from all truck training facilities. 40% commercial vehicle failed at the airport mississauga blitz last week. Why, because poor training from uneducated trainers who passed all these new and old driver in the air brake courses. If MTO monitor this test we wont have this problem.
    As we all know we dont stop at red light while making right turns and we claim best trainers and drivers. Thanks Ray.

  6. Cliff says:

    Ray is correct there is no driver shortage, just an unwillingness of people to allow themselves to be treated poorly.
    The government has opened the doors (deregulation) and allowed industry to flood the market with too many carriers in order to keep industry’s profits up by capitalizing on the “drivers are a dime a dozen” and “anyone can drive a truck” mentality.
    If you look at how many routes have trucks running empty and passing empty trucks traveling in the opposite direction, you would soon realize that there is not a shortage of drivers, just drivers willing to be treated poorly.
    The government wants more trucks on the road so that they can collect more money from fuel taxes to maintain our existing government standard of living, because they sure do not use the road tax for fixing the roads and the old roads are in better shape than any of the new roads that have been built in the last 20 years.
    We still have too many loop holes in obtaining a driver’s license for immigrants that it makes the driving school standards look pretty good. Some of our provinces allow immigrants from countries, where they just have to apply to get license (no test or training) come into Canada and trade their license in for a Canadian one, then after one year they can go anywhere in Canada and switch it over in other provinces (without ever passing a test), ever wonder how that works?
    Would you allow a doctor to operate on you if all he had to do was spend even a week to get his license, I think not, Professional driving is a trade and if a person wants to get into the trade you need to put in your apprenticeship time, just like any other trade does.

    • Ray Haight says:

      Total agree with your running empty comment, I was asked to speak at an effort called regulatory cooperation committee trying to align rules and regulations of agriculture transportation and manufacturing in try to get the waste out of the system between US and Canada. I was there with Wendell Erb who did a great job explaining all the BS his driver go through crossing the border with a simple load of chicken. I spoke in generalities on conflicting regs but my real game changer for the presentation is your point on MT trucks. I suggested that if the general public could see all the MT trucks that are on the road there would be an outcry so LOUD. talk about greenhouse gases, wasted fuel and consumer prices elevated because of ridiculous cabotage rules and waste, what a crime when you really thinks about it! When you guess that I believe that a reasonable guess is that there is at 15-20% of all trucks heading anywhere are MT or at far less than capacity, that a huge number, now relate it to the so called driver shortage, something funny going on here and I don’t mean Haw Haw funny!
      Ray

  7. John Wihksen says:

    Hi Ray, The comment of “Cliff” is exacting regarding “driver shortage”. Trucking is the only business where the company receiving the service, establishes the “monetary rate” paid to the “contactor,” in this case the trucking company! In the province of BC. the Government standard to receive a Class 1 drivers license is twenty four hours of practical training and 16 hours air brake theory! A graduate legally can operate a commercial articulated vehicle combination up to [140,000] Lbs. The government or private sector seemingly do not want the Professional Driver upgraded to a Trade status. In the forty years I have been in this Industry there has been little progress in the Industry. Thank you — John Wihksen

    • Ray Haight says:

      Each of those responsible for this oversight should be made to drive beside these drivers with their families in their cars with them, it would scare the stuffing out of them!
      Ray

  8. Harry Rudolfs says:

    Hi Ray, a couple of thoughts. Regulating driver schools and certifying trainers would set up another department and regulatory agency, and would suck away those much-coveted tax dollars to another bureaucracy. Maybe trainees should do almost all their training on simulators, that would be cost-effect and they could put in the mandatory 400 hours that way (in Quebec simulators could be combined with video lottery terminals, put in $20 for your lesson and get a few spins at a jackpot–or a job reference). Students could then be subsidized from lottery gaming business.

    Trucking companies know which schools are good, and a driver trainer should know within minutes if their road test applicant can handle a truck and is a potential hire. But a mentorship program is so important in this industry more than any other. Guys and girls directly out of driver school, or those taught by a relative, won’t be any kind of excellent drivers for a year or more, no matter how good their training, in my opinion. One problem may be that some trucking companies are hiring marginal drivers. But in the grand scheme of things, the industry needs these risk-taking, low-wage employers. They’re the ones who will give a kid or an immigrant a chance in most cases.

    • Cliff says:

      Ray just read Harry’s comments and he is right on about the simulators, we used to have them in Alberta but transportation companies were unable to support them enough for them to stay in business.

      Cost to the carriers was too expensive, the concept was great, our drivers really appreciated the opportunity to learn how to handle units in dangerous situations without being in danger of causing damage or injury.

      Trucking companies are hiring marginal drivers (I like that term) for two reasons,
      1) Management is trying to fill a seat (warm body syndrome, which I call lack of driver respect)
      2) Management’s lack of knowledge that it is their responsibility to make sure the potential driver actually knows what is involved in being a Professional driver (long hours, away from home, coping with equipment, enforcement, public, customers, weather, etc.).

      Ever since deregulation in the late 1980’s all these problems in transportation have come to light, believe it or not the wages are just now starting to get to what drivers were making back then when the cost of living was a lot less.

      Hate to sound pessimistic, but not much will change until the government steps in and regulates corridors so that there are a lot less empty trucks running around (which would be a loss of tax dollars for the government).

      • Ray Haight says:

        Thanks for jumping in Harry always good to hear from you and you to Cliff I am going to offer comments on both of your reply’s. I have no problem with simulators in fact when i was Chairman of PTDI (Professional Truck Driver Institute) we authorized a school in Maine to test some of the curriculum training elements, I get it its the future and I also believe that much of the training can be done online I can see in the not to distant future online schools like the University of Phoenix offering training and when you think about it why not? The student does the practical while still working at their other job, there little time lost while the income is still rolling, they do a proctored exam when they get to the training facility and then they do their road training, they get to book learn at their own pace, i like the idea myself.
        As far as re regulating corridors, not on your life would I agree that this is a good idea, for all the complaining deregulation has allowed many companies to flourish and grow from one truck fleets to successful enterprises. restricting the open market to a few big players was lining the pockets of the big guys and very few others in my opinion. I would also argue your comment that regulating corridors reduced empty trucks, many trucks back in the day wouldn’t have the proper licences for products that they needed to load to get back home after their head haul. Filing tariff rates with the feds, small guys having to skirt the rules to squeak out a living, when they talk about the good old days of trucking let me tall you they are not talking about the ICC and regulated corridors!

  9. Earl Clarke @ inner circle says:

    Goo job keep up the good work

  10. Rory Burgess says:

    Hey Ray Long time……Bet the name isn’t ringing any bells…But as a former Driver Instructor in Ontario I could not agree more, with your statements or you replies to comments… I now live in Calgary Alberta, and surprisingly enough there is regulation up the wasu here. There is tight regulations within the training industry here in Alberta but just like Ontario Schools are finding ways around these regs. When I decided to re-enter the Training industry it was difficult to obtain my Instructors License…I had to prove not only that I could drive but that I could teach as well. My road test, started at 09:00 and was finished 16:00, And anyone who is slow at math that is a 7 hour road test. The first two hours was all about the pretrip inspection. Not only did I have to perform a full and complete pretrip I had to teach the examiners about pretrip inspections….. This was then moved to the Air brakes. Then couple uncouple, and finally after 4 hours we got on the road and I had to do my commentary right from the get go. And teach basic principles through out the entire 3 hours….Now all that being said, I am a 35 year veteran with over 6 million miles. I made one mistake on my road test now I can give you all a bunch of excuses as to why i made that mistake but it boiled down to one thing I made an error in judgement and well everything was going well I had made no mistakes and after the incident I made no other mistakes and would have passed with a perfect score…What did I do I ran the back wheels over a curb…INSTANT FAILURE. and I deserved it. On my second Road Test I did what I set out to do Pass. So after a 14 hour road test I am now licensed to instruct other drivers…. BTW my examiner was a 20 year over the road driver. Wow I know this is long winded but I am getting to my point….I work for a company that has more that one driver trainer the main goal of the company is not truck driver training it is in fact corporate training. The collective OTR not including myself and one other person who has as many years as I do but refuses to get his instructors permit… Is Nil nothing nada 0, even the other Truck driver trainer…. So being all this said here finally is my point… It is all well and good to demand and rightfully so the highest quality drivers to come out of schools, but as long as people are doing this job who have no real experience or skill then the students are the ones that will suffer for the lack of proper training, and out here in Alberta they are more likely to be sent out into the mountains……

  11. Mark Smith says:

    Calgary Driving School is one of the finest and authorized driving schools in Calgary and instruction each student with the best skills and techniques of driving the vehicle.

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