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Sometimes it’s worth the wait

A couple of significant and troublesome issues with Ontario's system of licensing commercial truck drivers are well underway to being resolved - and while it took a while, perhaps it was worth the wai...




A couple of significant and troublesome issues with Ontario’s system of licensing commercial truck drivers are well underway to being resolved – and while it took a while, perhaps it was worth the wait.

In a letter dated Apr. 24, the Ministry announced the introduction of a new restrictive licence condition for Class A drivers.

The restriction will apply to those who pass the Class A test with a small truck-trailer configuration, such as a pick-up truck and a horse trailer, and will prohibit the holder of the licence from operating larger, more complex tractortrailers.

This new restriction takes effect June 16 and addresses a long-held industry concern. That being that people were opting to obtain a Class A licence without having the necessary skills to actually drive a tractor-trailer. It was a gap in the law, a rather large one, and some people took full advantage of it.

The issue had been brought to the attention of the Ministry on countless occasions, dating all the way back to a specific recommendation in Target ’97, and perhaps even earlier. That’s a long time to get a very important issue resolved.

Among industry professionals who kept hammering way at this loophole was Wayne Campbell. Wayne runs Adanac Truck Training near Toronto and has been tireless in his efforts to get the loophole closed.

Many other industry professionals and associations have raised the issue and received acknowledgements from the Ministry that the situation needed correcting, but until now nothing had been done. Until that is, the dreaded public exposure!

A short time ago Global Television ran a three-part series on its evening news broadcast exposing some of the ills of the driver training and licensing situation in Ontario.

During this series, a female reporter, who confessed to not having driven a tractor-trailer, received her Class A licence. The outrage that followed would have been humorous if it wasn’t just downright laughable to those in the industry.

After all the years of the industry telling the Ministry about this particular concern and requesting that it be corrected, it took a television report to embarrass the Ministry into action. Within only a few months of the exposure, the Ministry announced the change to a new restrictive code.

Now the Ministry has embarked on a review of another controversial commercial driver licensing policy. This is the one that compels drivers who have reached the age of 65 to renew their licence on an annual basis, including the need to complete the written and road tests.

This particular policy has raised the ire of many in the industry, and not just the affected drivers.

It is hard to imagine why a person who could have been a commercial driver for many years would need to pass a written test just because they turned 65 years of age. This resulted in drivers leaving the industry or accepting a downgrade in their licence.

The timing couldn’t have been worse for the industry at a time when experienced Class A drivers are at a premium. With so many drivers leaving the industry and so few entering, it’s difficult to understand the thinking behind such an affront to the men and women who keep the freight moving.

The requirement to renew annually wasn’t driven by an individual’s poor on-road experience visa-vis collisions or points – which would have been completely understandable – but was simply triggered by a birthday.

There have been many articles written on the subject and I have yet to read one that supported the Ministry’s position. In fact, I’m not even clear on the rationale that led to the policy.

In any event the policy is now under review and the industry is being consulted. We can all hope that the review will lead to a policy that addresses the actual need for re-testing, one based more on the driver’s on-road and medical record and less on an arbitrary number like 65.

So, it’s all good news and lots to look forward to. But to paraphrase the poet Bob Dylan, ‘I just wish we didn’t have to try so hard.’

– The Private Motor Truck Council is the only national association dedicated to the private trucking community. Your comments or questions can be addressed to trucks@pmtc.ca.


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