Can better training soothe trucker tensions?

by Carroll McCormick

ABITIBI, Que. – Several hours north of Montreal is the Abitibi region, where truckers, mostly log haulers, and highway inspectors do not always get along. Infractions are more common there, and a lack of training is the prime cause.

To address this, the Table de concertation rgionale en controle routier de l’Abitibi-Tmiscamingue-Nord-du-Qubec has announced that a pilot training project will deliver driver, administrator and bookkeeper training to the area.

“There is a possibility that there is an over-zealous application of the law, but there is a very strong possibility that the drivers are not aware of the subtleties. If the highway inspectors are applying the letter of the law, then the drivers are in trouble,” said Claude Chouinard, special projects manager, with Techni-Data.

The training should reduce the number of infractions. As for the charge that the highway inspectors are over-zealous, the training will give the drivers the confidence to plead not guilty to tickets that they feel are the result of misinterpreting the regulations. This feedback is expected to encourage highway inspectors to better inform themselves about the regulations.

The project is slated to run from Feb. 26 to March 12. Each course will last one day and cost $70, including lunch. The courses are scheduled to be held in Val D’or, Amos, LaSarre, Rouyn and Ville Marie – probably two sessions per town – and some 175 drivers and 75 owners and other company administrators are expected to sign up.

Emploi-Qubec is expected to announce a budget on April 1 that will fund more courses.

The courses were developed initially by the Qubec Trucking Association (QTA), which, in 2003, provided courses to area drivers and owners on their responsibilities and obligations under Law 430. Groupe Conseil Techni-Data Management modified these courses for the new pilot project and had them checked for legal content by the Socit de l’assurance automobile du Qubec (SAAQ).

The courses are tailored for two audiences: drivers will get a refresher on pre-trip inspections, learn about the new national tie-down regulations that went into effect on Jan. 1, cover special oversize permits for logs and machinery and review hours of service regulations for hauling between Quebec and Ontario.

Bookkeepers and administrators will learn about meeting the needs of the SAAQ with regard to Law 430. They will learn what information they need to give if they want an insurance quote. They will also learn how to set up their driver and vehicle files so that during an audit (by the SAAQ, the Qubec Transport Commission or an insurance underwriter) they can provide a clear picture of their operation.

The course will also cover interprovincial regulations, how Law 430 handles demerit points, what happens when a driver is ticketed for an infraction and what the trucking company should do when a driver is involved in a breach of a regulation.

“We are targeting the people who do the bookkeeping, and administrators of companies with five vehicles or less,” explains Claude Chouinard, special projects manager with Techni-Data. The program is targeting companies that are too small to be members of the QTA and use their training services, but are too large to be members of Association nationale des camionneurs artisans Inc. (ANCAI).

“We have exams afterward which we are keeping. (And since) we hope to add different courses, we want to have the history of the courses the drivers take. Participants will receive certificates of the courses they have successfully completed, and can ask for a record of their course results from Techni-Data if they change jobs,” says Chouinard.

The pilot project courses are aimed at dump truck drivers and owners, but Chouinard says any driver, administrator or owner is welcome. Logging truck companies are typically too busy in the winter to take courses, but more courses will be given after the spring thaw.

Anyone looking for information about the courses can call Lise Coulombe at the QTA, at 1-800-363-1358 or ANCAI in the Abitibi region at 1-819-825-5911.

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