TTSAO pushes for truck driver instructor certification
As Ontario looks to improve mandatory entry-level training (MELT) for new drivers, the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario (TTSAO) has outlined a plan to certify driver instructors.
The association wants instructors to undergo a three-day course approved by the Ministry of Transportation as well as a full MELT course. Instructors would then have one year from the date of hire to become certified.
“The majority of the potential instructors come from existing drivers currently employed in the trucking industry. Hiring quality people to become commercial instructors is much more difficult and time consuming than hiring professional drivers,” TTSAO said in a related discussion paper.
The existing MELT framework, in place for more than five years, is being updated.
“Whereas certain segments of the transportation industry have been critical of the current state of the legislation, we at the TTSAO remain confident and steadfast in our support of updating the MELT to increase road safety for all drivers and create a high-quality program,” TTSAO said in a release.
“Our mandate and goal throughout this revamping of MELT is to build on the baseline of learning, enhance skills and increase knowledge during the entire training process.”
Instructors need education
Philip Fletcher, TTSAO president, said the organization has been working with stakeholders for a couple of years to establish a certification process for instructors. It hopes to see that built into any future MELT updates.
“Not only do [students] deserve it, the instructor needs education on the why and how to properly deliver in-class, in-yard and over-the-road training properly,” TTSAO wrote in a document outlining its mission. “Learning how to drive a tractor-trailer properly is no easy task. It takes plenty of practice and it is a huge responsibility. Being an instructor of these big rigs is also a huge responsibility and cannot be taken lightly. To become a competent instructor takes time. You don’t go from driving one day to being an instructor the next.”
It noted that training is required so instructors realize what the job entails. Currently, many instructors go back on the road as drivers within three to nine months, resulting in turnover and additional training costs for training schools.
The TTSAO’s proposal would require new in-truck and in-yard instructors to take a three-day TTSAO Commercial Instructor Course within four months of being hired. New in-class instructors would also be required to take the course before they’re able to teach a class, also within four months of hire.
TTSAO says it would offer the course at least four times a year, or as demand dictates.
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There’s a SPECIFIC need from ” newcomers ” experienced or not, to jump in trucking industry. I have almost 50 years on road, now, 8 here in Canada the rest outside of. I had to struggle to get in , believe me. Terrible.
50 years driving commercial in European or North America operations?
Few drivers going to instructors jobs understand the position. Those fortunate enough to work for a reputable school may stay longer, but the puppy mills will always have a huge turnover due to the pressure to pass sketchy students.
Instructors require more than a ‘driver’ designation. A three day course is all but laughable.
There needs to be a level of mechanical skill and understanding. Exposure to accepted driving skills and a person with the patience and ability to transfer knowledge.
I attended 2 levels of classroom training – 1 for basic driver Ed instructor for 2 weeks. The second ‘Train the trainer’ was another 2 weeks to be able to reach Class 1 drivers. This was in addition to minimum 5 years driving experience validated by reference letters from employers.
The ‘MELT’ concept is in need of an upgrade – How about we go back and pull the ‘EARN YOUR WHEELS’ program off the shelf and use it. This course was developed for the industry and paid for by government – but was deemed to ‘pricey’ – now here we are reinventing the wheel.
As long as we try to satisfy the hoards who want ‘cheap safety’ and asses in seats trucking, the quality will never improve.
It’s time we start enforcing regulations instead of changing them to meet the lowest common denominator. Let’s start with the ability to read and write English/French in our country. Road signs only come in two languages in Canada.
Second step is to move the onus from the driver training schools to the ‘Corporate Employers’ – passing a test may be a regulation, but being a competent driver takes time and skill. More companies need to step up to the plate, with competent trainers, to mentor and coach new drivers in to this ‘trade’. It is not the role of training schools to develop ‘Qualified’ drivers, but to provide ‘certified drivers’.