Ontario considering changes to air brake endorsement renewal

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Ontario’s proposal to introduce learning modules for drivers to maintain their air brake (Z) endorsement prior to renewing their driving licences is generating opposing views among trucking organizations.

The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) is in favor of the plan, while the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada (PMTC) and Ontario Safety League (OSL) expressed their opposition.

The province plans to implement a phased approach to introduce learning modules as an alternative to the knowledge test taken at a DriveTest Centre. Presently, if a driver fails the air brake knowledge test, they lose the Z endorsement and their licence is downgraded.

(File photo: James Menzies)

The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) will introduce the program beginning with driver certification program (DCP) organizations that deliver air brake knowledge tests for renewals, and then expand it to all air brake endorsement holders.

In the first phase, participants will complete the learning module through their DCP organization, who will record it to update MTO records. The participants will then have to pay the renewal fee at a DriveTest Centre.

Learning module can be completed at home

In the second phase, the learning module can be completed at home or an individual may complete the knowledge test through a DriveTest Centre. If the module is completed at home, the driver can print or download a certificate of completion and pay the renewal fee at a DriveTest Centre.

OTA president Stephen Laskowski said the association’s board and members are support the proposal.

Geoff Wood, OTA’s senior vice-president, policy, added that electronic proctoring technology will help ensure people do not cheat during the learning module.

Laskowski said that the responsibility of the driver with regards to having air brake knowledge is not being eliminated and nor is the knowledge test. Individuals have already passed the test and the learning modules will provide a refresher going forward.

A truck driving school official was also in favor of the proposal, saying invigilation software could be used to ensure the authenticity of the person attending the learning module.

Radek Rogowski, operations manager at Richards Driving School in Mississauga, Ont., said taking drivers through an air brake refresher during renewal is not a bad idea as it adds another layer of training.

“If implementation is sloppy, it will be a problem,” he added.

Opposition to plan

The plan is also generating opposition. PMTC president Mike Millian said there must be a written knowledge test at a DriveTest Centre. Learning modules are a good way to increase knowledge, he added, but wanted to know how it would be verified that knowledge was gained, and that the module was taken by the correct person.

“In phase two of the proposal, you can log in online and do it from anywhere, how are you going to know who answered the questions?” he asked.

Millian also wants to know what the learning module would look like. He said he is not in favor of the proposal of doing either a learning module or completing a knowledge test during air brake endorsement renewals.

The OSL, an organization that provides MTO-approved air brake endorsement instructor training among other courses, is opposed to the proposal on safety grounds.

The league’s president and CEO Brian Patterson said the proposal is being masqueraded as a victory against red tape, but that is not the case. “It is unsafe for the public. We think it would be a disaster,” he added.

The province is seeking public comment on the proposal and the last date to provide input is March 16.

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Leo Barros is the associate editor of Today’s Trucking. He has been a journalist for more than two decades, holds a CDL and has worked as a longhaul truck driver. Reach him at leo@newcom.ca

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  • I agree with PMTC an in person written test is the only way to ensure that the Air brake test is properly completed.

  • If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Government workers?, who have never driven a truck, have no bu
    siness changing anything!

  • I’ve been keeping my AZ even though I now only drive tractor trailer off road, but if I have to pay more fees and jump through more hoops after 37 years accident and infraction free driving as both an owner and a driver I won’t be renewing again.

    I worked side by side with drivers that don’t even have a Canadian drivers license and I have to jump through hoops??? Screw that.

    This industry is as upside down as out government.

    • I agree, I’ve been out here for thirty seven years. The BS is never ending in this racket, I personally know of fourteen guys who hung the keys at Christmas. As far as I’m concerned people can starve, you want your products but the government wants to make it more difficult for the driver.

  • Air brakes and a knowledgeable operator in top condition are important but with a large amount of trucks on the road to day equipped with disc brakes braking has improved immensely. The Z endorsement training and updating has been ongoing at the licencing level as I recently experienced in rewriting the tests and thank god I read up the latest Z air brake drivers guide even though I just retired from forty years on the floor as a licenced truck coach technician.
    Now returning to driving AZ parttime as having been licenced from the age of 18 I am horrified at some of the driving I am witnessing and experiencing in all classes. I still cannot understand how some drivers have managed to get their licences and operate in such careless and dangerous manners again in all classes. Its in this area I think efforts need to be strengthen the most along with the continuing increased enforcement and fines.
    Also I know and still witness licenced inspection stations still bending the inspection regulations because theres still too much junk on the road. Having no money or working for low rates is never a reason or justification for not meeting safety standards.

  • Doesn’t it seem a little stupid that a driver has to know as much as a mechanic but can’t repair or do anything about it? Putting yourself out of service is the only answer and your decision to do so could be wrong for doing so. Remember we are drivers not mechanics.

  • The Truckers Voice is apposed to the OTA purposel!
    This just another short sighted idea for the OTA!
    There are more important issues than this!
    Because the ota members chose to hire foreign drivers to avoid paying a decent wage to the experience drivers!
    It is more important that they hire drivers that have some idea of trucking from the country they come from!

    We need more enforcement!
    Which is now being address by the MTO!
    Just a few weeks ago 24 charges to driver in 24 hours!
    Last year we participated in rewriting the melt program ,that was written by OTA! The OTA was only interested in getting drivers put in seats as to putting qualified drivers in seats.
    As per the OPP stats have proved 40 % increase yearly from 2017 to 2022 that is 200% increase! That doesn’t include trucks just drove off the road or the accidents that occurred out sideside of the OPP jurisdiction!

    This number would be double or even tripled!

    Until Ontario allows drivers to adjust there brakes then this just another non issue as to dealing with real issues that plage the trucking industry!

  • The drivers that cannot pass the test now just go out west change there address melt the same thing so why waste more money until all provinces get on the same page