Feds promise a national truck driver training standard by 2020

Canada’s federal government promises to introduce a national truck driver training standard by January 2020, but it will ultimately be the provinces and territories that decide whether such training is mandated.

“Canadians expect that people who receive their licences, as drivers of semi-trailers – large vehicles – should be properly prepared through training before they assume those duties,” federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau said, as he emerged from a Council of Ministers meeting with fellow transportation and highway safety ministers.

They all agreed to build on the work of jurisdictions that have mandated entry-level training. But there was no reference to making the national standard a “mandatory” model. Garneau agreed that provinces continue to have jurisdiction over training standards and licensing, too.

Ontario was the first province to mandate entry-level driver training, setting a threshold of 103.5 hours before someone can take the road test for a Class A licence. Saskatchewan and Alberta will introduce 121.5 hours of mandated training for their Class 1 licences this March. Similar concepts have also been promoted by B.C.’s Auditor General, while Manitoba has launched consultations into a training regime of its own.

Last April’s truck-bus crash in Saskatchewan that killed 16 people on a Humboldt Broncos minor hockey bus – and a recent Ottawa bus crash that killed three people – were both cited as reminders that more needs to be done in the name of highway safety.

Groups including the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario (TTSAO), and Private Motor Truck Council of Canada (PMTC) applauded the federal announcement.

Transport Canada believes regulations concerning ELDs will be adopted in the “next few months,” Garneau said, responding to a question from our sister publication Truck News. “It has to go through Canada Gazette. Then we need to allow some time for the trucking sector to put things in place.”

But a final date has yet to be set.

The ministers also promised more steps to protect vulnerable road users around heavy vehicles, referring to the recently published Safety Measures for Cyclists and Pedestrians Around Heavy Vehicles report, released last October.

Support was also shown for advancing the uptake of zero-emission vehicles, exploring mandatory seatbelts for school buses, collaborating on approaches to fight distracted and impaired driving, and promoting testing and investments in automated and connected vehicles.