Truck News


No more horsing around

TORONTO, Ont. - Ed Dailous may raise horses and train truck drivers, but he's happy to use different equipment for each job, thank you very much.The vice-president and general manager of Markel Profes...

TORONTO, Ont. – Ed Dailous may raise horses and train truck drivers, but he’s happy to use different equipment for each job, thank you very much.

The vice-president and general manager of Markel Professional Transport Training in Guelph, Ont. has long lobbied to get the Ontario Ministry of Transportation to require something more than a horse trailer and pick-up to earn a Class A licence – a loophole that has existed for years. Now his wish has come true.

Ontario’s Transportation Ministry will soon require those applying for Class A licences to take their road tests using equipment they are likely to drive as professional truckers.

Those who take tests under the restricted regime will have to be at the wheel of a tandem-axle tractor with a tandem-axle trailer, using a non-synchronized transmission with a minimum of eight speeds and a need for double clutching, a full air brake system on the tractor and trailer, and a fifth wheel. Trailers will have to be a minimum of 45 feet long with a minimum trailer wheelbase of 10.63 metres (34 feet, 10.5 inches) as measured from the kingpin to the centre of the rear bogie.

The new standards will be applied to training schools and community colleges by July 17. And the second phase of the changes will include a licence restriction for those who want to use smaller vehicle configurations (legitimate horse trainers, for example), although a deadline for this requirement has yet to be set.

“The best thing they could start with was to get rid of the single-single,” Dailous says.

Although ministry yards weren’t jammed with wannabe truckers looking to slip through the cracks by taking their tests with easier-to-handle equipment, it did happen. “And if a guy loses his job as a horse trainer, he could say, ‘Hell, I’ll drive a truck,'” Dailous adds, referring to another dimension of the problem.

The Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario tried to make the point last November, parking a horse trailer and pick-up outside a meeting that featured a speech by Ontario Transportation Minister David Turnbull. On it was a banner that proclaimed the configuration was approved by the ministry for Class A road tests.

It was an extreme example, admits association president Wayne Campbell. But it wasn’t that far from the truth. Examiners were seeing students drive in with 25-foot pup trailers and automatics.

“The examiners have to test them. They don’t have a choice,” Campbell says in their defence. “It was the system’s fault.”

Both men see the move as a key step to improving training schools that operate on the fringe of the industry.

But Dailous admits that the new standards will require some additional training of those who conduct the ministry tests. “Some of the examiners, they wouldn’t tell if I had a 42 or a 45 (foot trailer),” he says. “And if I move the bogie up one hole, I change that wheelbase. Will they measure it?”

The ministry is also expected to introduce a requirement for vehicles to be loaded, the Ontario Trucking Association reports. But there are still questions about the weights that would be required. “It’s going to depend a lot on the configurations,” Dailous says.

“There’s a long way to go, but what I have noticed in the past year is the Ministry of Transportation has been very open to positive change,” Campbell says of industry lobbying for a tougher regime. “But we gotta tighten up on all the schools. We got to put teeth in the regulations that require people to run a school in this province, and make them all conform with a provincial standard. The next step is (to introduce) training standards for instructors, and to get (Human Resources Development Canada) to stop funding non-registered schools.” n

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