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Editor’s Comment: Alberta’s time to shine, let’s not drop the ball

It's difficult to ignore the irony. An allegedly corrupt school that put Alberta's truck driver training institutions under the microscope across Canada appears to have prompted the province to take a...


It’s difficult to ignore the irony. An allegedly corrupt school that put Alberta’s truck driver training institutions under the microscope across Canada appears to have prompted the province to take a lead when it comes to implementing more stringent driver training standards.

The province certainly won’t admit the two events are related, but the timing of the announcement would suggest otherwise.

And that’s just fine. The Transportation Training & Development Association (TT&DA) has been working relentlessly on implementing higher standards for years now, and exactly what prompted the government to move the issue to the front burner is irrelevent.

The bottom line is, the province will soon have its chance to shine and set an example for other jurisdictions to follow. The end result – if the program is successful – will be safer highways and a partial answer to the driver shortage that continues to plague the industry.

The proposed Alberta program involves 37 weeks of training – far more than most students take now. It is based on the CTHRC’s Earning Your Wheels program, but it involves an even more intensive paid work placement.

It all sounds great in theory, but there are two key stakeholders that must come to the table to ensure the program works.

First, government has to be willing to provide a significant amount of financial assitance to students who opt to take the more in-depth (and much more costly) program. Cheaper alternatives will always exist, and if this program is to succeed, there must be an incentive for student drivers to take part.

It’s all fine and dandy for government to give this program the thumbs up and speak of its virtues in the media, but if it won’t provide significant funding then the program is doomed for failure.

The program promises to enhance highway safety, which should be a priority for government. It’s money well-spent that will benefit all the province’s citizens.

Secondly, industry must also get behind the proposed program. If carriers don’t differentiate between drivers who have invested in becoming a certified professional driver (as opposed to simply a Class 1 licence holder), then once again there will be very little reason for prospective drivers to enter the program. It’s not just carriers that must support the program, but insurance companies as well. It’s long been recognized that a significant deterrent to young drivers is their inability to get insured while under 25 years of age. By the time they hit 25, many have already entered other professions.

Here’s an opportunity for government and industry to come together to make this program work.

Let’s set an example for the rest of the nation to follow and raise the bar for good.

– James Menzies can be reached by phone at 403-275-3160 or by e-mail at jamesmenzies@shaw.ca.


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