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Do driver training standards need to be improved?

BOWMANVILLE, Ont. - A wellpublicized trucking accident can do more than just damage mere equipment. The reputation of the industry at large takes a hit each time an overturned tanker finds its way ont...






BOWMANVILLE, Ont. – A wellpublicized trucking accident can do more than just damage mere equipment. The reputation of the industry at large takes a hit each time an overturned tanker finds its way onto the six o’clock news. A surge in highprofile trucking accidents also increases the likelihood of in-depth reports by news agencies, like a recent three-part feature which aired on Global TV. In it, the reporter explored the failings of the industry’s training standards after earning an A/Z licence within a matter of hours – with no highway experience and never having set foot in an actual big rig. Is the situation really that dire – and dangerous – or did the reporters happen to focus on a few bad eggs?

Truck News stopped by the Fifth Wheel Truck Stop in Bowmanville, Ont. to see if truckers think standards for training are in need of a serious tune-up.

Louis Leroux, a 37-year veteran

Adam Ledlow

Assistant Editor

with Clarke Road Transport in Montreal, says that the standards themselves aren’t necessarily the problem, but rather the lack of enforcement.

“You cannot make a driver out of a week or even three months (of training),” says the ex-driving instructor. “I believe in apprenticeship; to go as a trainee on the road for two, three, four months and they should never be put directly on the highway to start with. It’s okay with a trainer, but after that, do city work for a couple of years and then gradually (move to highway driving).”

Claude Bolduc, a driver with RONA in Quebec, says the trainers are guilty of overlooking simple points when giving lessons. For example, Bolduc says that when most training schools take students on the road, the trailer is empty, which doesn’t allow for a driver to develop “feel.”

“When you drive unloaded and with a load it’s not the same thing. It’s not the same feeling – especially when you back up,” he says.

Bolduc suggests that schools should send all drivers back for some level of training, if nothing else, to hone up on what rules have changed in recent years.

Montreal trucker Jean-Claude Triudul says not all training is created equal. In his native Quebec, Triudul says it takes Quebec drivers about a year to acquire their licence, while some Ontario schools have drivers on the road in just 60 hours. Besides the poor on-road habits he sees, Triudul says pushing for more intensive logbook training would benefit the industry as well.

Lorne Lynch, a driver with Sunbury Transport out of Fredericton N. B., says the lack of “seat time” is one of the main problems with driver training today.

“When I took my course we had to go out on the bad roads…(and) the back roads,”Lynch says. “A lot of them now just drive around the towns and cities, they don’t really get out there.”

Lynch says that a prolonged orientation with a new driver’s employer would help ease the transition. However, Lynch says that teaching the basic fundamentals of driving is paramount to developing a wellrounded trucker, because a poorly trained driver can be a dangerous thing. “I’ve seen people out there that can’t even back a truck up. I’ve had to get out of my truck and actually back a guy’s truck up for him.”


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