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A no confidence motion

I said then, and still believe, that if truck drivers with insufficient or inappropriate training continue to find jobs, there is little or no incentive for schools to train to a higher standard, or f...




I said then, and still believe, that if truck drivers with insufficient or inappropriate training continue to find jobs, there is little or no incentive for schools to train to a higher standard, or for prospective drivers for that matter, to demand a higher level of training. And that seems to be the case in today’s environment.

The basis for my comments was a report from the Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council (CTHRC) stating that 38 per cent of drivers who had been fired were considered by their former employers to have been poorly qualified, and another 17 per cent, again in the view of the employer, had poor driving records.

So why do carriers hire these drivers in the first place? There is so much at risk when a driver of this calibre is put behind the wheel.

Even the argument that ‘the freight has to move’ quickly loses its value when the risks are considered.

Few of us would hand over the keys of the family car to an inexperienced teenage son or daughter and send them off on a trip, so why would any carrier treat his equipment in such a cavalier fashion?

Considering the escalating cost of insurance, of equipment, of driver turnover, and the potential cost of lost customers that can result from using drivers without the proper training, one wonders why carriers don’t hold fast and demand better trained drivers.

The gentleman who called was considering returning to truck driving, something he had not done as an occupation for many years. But, he was concerned about the high cost of truck driver training and the lack of guarantees that the training would meet industry requirements.

He proposed that carriers should select candidates for training and then cover the cost of that training in exchange for a contract of employment that would bind the driver to the company for a specified period of time, perhaps one year.

It’s not a bad thought. Some of our members already cover the costs of training for existing employees who want to be professional truck drivers.

In these cases the company can select the candidate as well as the school and thereby ensure that both meet their needs. But as good an idea as it is, it is still not a wide-spread practice, not even among private carriers.

Another alternative to help ensure adequate training in this area is to consider better ways to handle public money that is spent on driver training. That money needs to be directed towards candidates who attend industry approved driver training courses.

At the moment there is no such restriction and candidates are free to choose the training school of their choice.

In most cases those candidates have no idea of the type of training they will receive or whether it even meets the industry’s needs. As a result, many of them fail their test, or can’t get the type of job they thought they would qualify for, and they have no recourse with the training establishment.

In Ontario, the failure rate for those attempting to obtain a commercial truck driver licence varies across the province, but it ranges up to 65 per cent.

I suppose there are many reasons for the failure rate to be so high, but a person can’t help but think that chief among them must be the quality of training the candidate received leading up to the test.

If we were to control funding of driver training by directing students to industry approved schools there would be some assurance that those funds were being spent on quality training for drivers.

It would also encourage all schools to raise the bar a little and train to an approved standard. When a prospective driver wants training we should help ensure that the money, be it his or her own money or that of a funding agency, is well spent.

The goal is to have a commercial driver’s licence that is an indicator of a well trained driver who now needs to gain experience – at the moment it’s anyone’s guess what that newly granted licence represents.

In the meantime, choosing an appropriate school remains a continuing dilemma for prospective drivers.

And now for the icing on the cake – the Calgary police have uncovered a school that allegedly falsified documents and medical exams to obtain Class 1 licences for 172 people.

Is it any wonder that neither students or employers have little confidence in the current training system?

– The Private Motor Truck Council of Canada is the only national association dedicated to the private trucking community. This column presents opinions on trucking issues from the perspective of private carriers. Comments can be addressed to trucks@pmtc.ca


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