With regards to the story “Who is driving that thing?” in the February issue of Truck News:
There are no stats to show that recent driving school graduates are responsible for more accidents than experienced drivers.
I have been a driver trainer for over 20 years, training entry-level drivers, and in that time have worked for three different schools in Ontario, and feel I have a pretty good handle on what is required to train an entry-level driver.
I think there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that the reporters are not reporting on.
Are all schools accredited with the Ministry of Colleges top-notch schools and all non-accredited schools poor schools?
The fact is that to become an accredited school with the Ministry of Colleges a bond must be posted (which in some cases can be in excess of $50,000) for a student completion fund. For some of the smaller schools this is an unachievable financial obligation. Therefore a school can put on a top of the line training program which far exceeds the standards set by the ministry of colleges yet be considered a “licence mill.”
On the other side of the coin, as long as a school submits an approved curriculum with the Ministry of Colleges and pays the money, there is very little done to see that all students are receiving the program as submitted.
I have worked for a school that would cut the training time short in order to make pre-booked road test dates, and tell the students that they can come back for the additional hours if they want, at a later date, however none did. Therefore these students are leaving an approved school with about twothirds or less of the submitted training curriculum.
To become a car driving instructor there are training and licensing procedures in place. For truck driver training this is not the case, and an individual can teach truck driving with no formal training, and in some cases very little driving experience.
One of the main problems with the trucking industry is that for many people that get into it, driving was not a first choice of careers, (how many guidance councillors would recommend for a high school student to become a truck driver?) and are entering the trucking industry because of lack of employment in their previous occupation.
People in this situation normally do not have a lot of money saved up to invest in training, and living without income while attending the training classes.
Other than E. I. there is very little funding available for anyone to take the training, and the time between being laid off and being approved for training can be excessive.
A truck training school is a business, and like most businesses, is there to make a profit, therefore training time equals money, and the only way to get the student more hours behind the wheel is higher tuition fees. There are some schools that will offer a person with a limited amount of funds as much training as they can with the funds available.
Is this wrong? Who knows?
If you walk into a car dealership with a very limited amount of money you are going to come out with a car that likely barely made it past the safety inspection.
Does this make for a well trained driver? Definitely not.
Will this person get a licence? It is possible. They may have achieved the minimum standards required to pass the road test.
Like most things, there is one easy way to get 10 years experience as a truck driver, and that is to do it for 10 years. This is where the trucking companies and/or government must get involved.
A prospective employer should spend time evaluating each driver they are going to hire, and this should involve a written test, and an on-road evaluation at least three hours in length, and if the driver is not found to be qualified they should not be hired, or offered further training by the company, which possibly could be offset by government funding or paying the employee a lesser wage for a period of time.
It all boils down to the old story:A hundred trucks will pass you safely and you will not notice them or think about them again, however if one truck cuts you off you will remember it for a long time, and that is what you will base your thoughts of trucker on, not the 100 good drivers out there.
John Miller Via e-mail
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