As outlined in this month’s cover story by Julia Kuzeljevich, it appears the trucking industry’s dirty little secret is out.
As Julia reported, the embarrassing fact you can obtain an A/Z licence in Ontario without ever getting behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer was highlighted during a recent investigative report by Global TV.
One could accuse the Global reporter of sensationalizing the story somewhat – after all, though she did obtain an A/Z licence, most trucking companies would weed her out pretty quickly when her lack of skills became obvious during a road test.
Still, the report will surely heighten already overblown concerns that most four-wheelers have about sharing the road with big trucks.
The trucking industry has known for some time that it needs to revamp its training standards and purge the industry of socalled ‘licensing mills’ that can set up shop almost anywhere and churn out a steady stream of under-trained drivers.
Unfortunately, when it comes to elevating the industry’s training standards for new drivers, it seems that government doesn’t share the same vision or ambition as the trucking industry itself. Witness the impending demise of Alberta’s Professional Driver Certificate Pilot Program, which was reported on trucknews.com in December.
The program has been in the works for many years now, and at one point Alberta appeared poised to be the first province to raise its training standards to an unprecedented level, with an apprenticeship-type program that would raise the bar substantially for new drivers.
Now, the province’s failure to include a Class 1 licence component in the program has resulted in a lack of interest and it appears the program may ultimately get axed, placing Alberta right back at square one.
In Ontario, proponents of more rigorous training standards have worked tirelessly to introduce a voluntary truck driver apprenticeship program for professional drivers.
They should be commended for their efforts – it’s a giant step in the right direction.
However, the extra time and expense required of prospective drivers is hard for them to stomach, when the option still exists to enroll in a school whose main priority is to help them obtain an A/Z licence as fast – and cheap – as possible, even if it means training them only to pass the road test.
It’s no secret that a national training standard must be adopted by each and every province. The Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council has been working towards this goal for some time now.
It’s essential that provincial governments help the industry achieve this goal, rather than erect barriers in its path, facilitating the continuing operation of licensing mills, which remain the scourge of our industry.