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Minister to reject task force plan to delay new truckers

WINNIPEG, Man. - The Manitoba government says it will ignore its MLA task force on graduated licensing's recommendation that would extend the minimum age a person could get their commercial licence fr...


GRADUATING CLASS: Fleets were concerned graduated licensing would definitely mean higher minimum age limits for Manitoba's truck drivers.
GRADUATING CLASS: Fleets were concerned graduated licensing would definitely mean higher minimum age limits for Manitoba's truck drivers.

WINNIPEG, Man. – The Manitoba government says it will ignore its MLA task force on graduated licensing’s recommendation that would extend the minimum age a person could get their commercial licence from 18 to 19 years of age.

Marlene Zyluk, the province’s registrar of motor vehicles, says that while nothing is official at this point, the government has no plans to impact the minimum age of commercial drivers with its impending graduated system.

“The department is finalizing its review of the task force report,” she says. Zyluk explains the report recommended a three-year period before novice drivers would be able to get their Class 5 licence. This would mean new drivers wouldn’t be able to go for their Class 1 through Class 4 tickets until they were a minimum of 19 years old.

Manitoba statistics show that crash rates for novice drivers, regardless of age, are nearly three times as high as for the normal driving population. Experience in other jurisdictions indicates that multi-level licensing programs have resulted in significant drops, in some cases as high as a 37 per cent decrease, in traffic crashes and fatalities among inexperienced drivers.

“Research shows that drivers need the opportunity to develop the skills, knowledge and attitude necessary for optimal driving,” says Highways and Government Services Minister Steve Ashton. “These initiatives, along with our government’s initiatives to combat drunk driving, will make for significantly safer driving in Manitoba.”

Any move to delay the entry of new truckers into the driver pool, coupled with the aging work force currently in place, would likely have dramatic repercussions on Manitoba’s fleets and their ability to recruit new drivers. Instead, Zyluk indicates that a two-year beginner/probationary period would likely be the route taken by the Department of Highways and Government Services.

“Those details a still being worked out,” she insists. “(Ashton) is very sensitive to the impact a three-year system would have on the trucking industry.”

For its part, the Manitoba Trucking Association (MTA) is pleased to hear the government is taking a common-sense approach to the issue.

“We recognize that according to some of the studies, graduated licensing is appropriate for novice drivers,” says Bob Dolyniuk, general manager of the MTA. “We support that initiative … providing there isn’t a negative impact to our industry.”

Dolyniuk says an extended waiting period for new truckers would have put Manitoba fleet’s at a disadvantage when it comes to hiring.

“People make their career decisions in their late teens,” he contends. “Extending the minimum age would have only served to re-emphasis the incorrect notion that trucking is a job of last resort,” concludes Dolyniuk. n


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