Industry: Strengthen driver training standards

Abdul Latheef

Air Brake

Tory MPP Amarjot Sandhu

TORONTO, Ont. – Trucking industry leaders are calling for a strengthening of driver training standards in Ontario in the wake of a bid by a Tory legislator to abolish the written test on air brakes at licence renewal.

Amarjot Sandhu, who represents the Brampton West riding in the Ontario Legislature, tabled a private member’s bill last week, claiming that eliminating the re-test will reduce red tape.

Commercial vehicle drivers in Ontario are required to take the test when they renew their licence.

The move was widely criticized, but Sandhu defended his decision by telling Truck News that Bill 142 Highway Traffic Amendment Act (Air Brake Endorsements) 2019 is aimed at reducing red tape without compromising safety.

“Safety of people and highways remains paramount; however, the re-test requirement is not based on any CCMTA (Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators) National Safety Standard Code or suggested best practices,” he said in a statement.

Sandhu said other jurisdictions such as British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island do not require the re-test.

He said the objective assessment of this bill should rather be based on facts and empirical research.

And, Sandhu said, there was no empirical evidence to suggest having no air-brake re-testing requirement in other provinces had any adverse effect on road safety in those provinces.

Reaction to his proposal ranged from anger to ridicule as his move comes at a time when the industry is grappling with falling driving standards.

“Why not offer blindfold too,” a reader identified as Kenneth Hewer wrote on the CBC News website.

Others said, if at all, the criteria for heavy-duty licences should be strengthened.

“The PMTC is not in favor of the private member’s bill to remove the written air brake test from the commercial license renewal process,” said Mike Millian, president of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada.

Air Brake“We have already reached out to the MTO and made them aware that if this moves through the house we would be opposed strongly.

“If anything, we would like to see the test strengthened and enhanced as air brakes continue to be one of the leading out of service defects discovered during inspections.”

Brian Adams, president of Crossroads Truck Training Academy in Ottawa, Ont., agreed.

“Our recommendation would be to strengthen air brake knowledge rather than weakening it,” Adams said.

“It has been our experience that the most misunderstood component which results in compromised road safety is air brakes.”

That is also the reason why Ontario has always considered it such a high priority, Adams added.

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  • First of all no one teach air brake endorsement course to new drivers anyways.
    Ontario 12 hours air brake endorsement course over two days is a joke.
    Instructor teaches half the course on first day without any practical portion and half the course complete next day and after one hour (Lunch Break) ask students to write the knowledge test and do practical test.
    Ontario air brake course 15 people class with one instructor and (same examiner) and one tractor trailer over 12 hours including all breaks.
    MPP is right with his point when no other jurisdiction have retest why Ontario.

  • Really ! Can you say money grab ! 1) Melt program is $ 5,000.00 & up and if you fail yes you do get a second road test free. But the training it self is not that thrall. Pushing you threw the course is not good. Truck Schools don’t care .

  • I am a dump truck driver with over 15 years experience and with clean driving record. I know all air brake components and their functions very well. WHY me and my fellow drivers have to write down these 20 questions which they never upgraded. It’s wastage of time and money to re write air brake test for experienced and knowledgable drivers,

  • Knowing air break fonction is good although today all tractor and trailers have auto slack adjusting mechanism and they should be working at all time when you go true the sequence of the pre trip and if problem the driver is not a mechanic and has no right to fix he has to call on service truck or the company he work for to send a qualified mechanic for that.
    Just tell me if I am wrong???

  • Let’s look at our industry and compare it to other industries and their requirements. Nurses, carpenters, electricians, mechanics are all required to have refresher training on a regular or predetermined basis. Our drivers need the same. Confirmation of qualification is any safety sensitive position is key to both driver and company success.

  • The problem as I see is not the knowledge portion about air brakes as drivers we can’t touch or adjust unless certified. The problem is now, let’s have a show of hands, of the drivers that what to crawl under there truck and trailer first thing in the morning and get very dirty, or covered in mud on a rainy day, freeze there buns on a cold night or day. This is to place a plastic tie on each push rod to measure the stroke for each wheel everyday. Sounds like something I don’t want to do everyday.
    To avoid this miserable task I had Brake Safe push rod indicators installed on my truck when it was brand new. Google it 36.95 per axle plus installation this is something that should be built in from the manufacturer this is far simpler and easier to check and would eliminate 70-80% of out of adjustment brakes. There is always 20-30% doe heads that will drive while out of adjustment anyway.
    The point being remove the out of adjustment problem and we don’t need to retest for air brakes out of adjustment. As this seems to be the main reason for the retest for air brakes. The drivers have the knowledge they just don’t want to crawl under the truck and trailer.

  • I also agree with MPP Mr Singh, it’s just money grab. There is no need to write down same questions answers every five years. Any kid can check mark these multiple choice questions answers. PLEASE spend this money on roads and develop better training standards for new drivers training.

  • As a certified air brake instructor and former instructor at one of Ontario’s larger truck training schools I feel compelled to comment. At the school I was at, we did not do any sort of weekend course for air brakes. I made sure that every student performed the air brake practical exam required by Drive Test every time we went out in the truck. At the end of 4 weeks of training, the student knew the exam front to back. Nobody failed the Z endorsement on test day at Drive Test, because they knew their stuff. Not all schools and instructors are equal.

    A professional driver will know how the air brake system operates and how to check brakes for adjustment. The argument that it’s dirty or unpleasant is not valid. It’s part of the job. There are systems available, like Brake Safe, that do make it much easier. That being said, the driver must know how to use the Brake Safe system , and more importantly use it daily as part of the daily vehicle inspection process. It’s not there for decoration.

    There are drivers who are currently licensed that don’t have a clue how the air brake system works. This is scary. At least if they have to write a test, they might be forced to do some reading and refresh their memories with system operation. If they can’t pass the written test, should they be on the road? The answer is more training and testing, otherwise you just end up with steering wheel holders, not professional drivers.

  • Ontario like to be difficult on everything. Why dont give brake adjustment on their New Brunswick you cant take road test or change an out of province CDL over until u adjust both manual and automatic slack adjusters but you cant adjust a brake in the province of Ontario

  • I’m all for refreshers. Recently I redid my First aid and from some things had changed. My question is why doesn’t everyone licensed driver have to do a ‘refresher’ test (even online). A lot of people today don’t know the pedestrian designated crosswalk law and what better way to have them learn the changes then an online tutorial. Maybe if we get everyone on board we would see fewer crashes on Ontario roads.