TORONTO — Instead of writing to Santa, the Ontario Trucking Association wrote to Premier Kathleen Wynne. What do they want to receive this year? Mandatory entry training for commercial truck drivers.
And they’re not the only ones. The Training Schools Association of Ontario some Canadian trucking insurers, such as Northbridge Insurance, The Guarantee Company of North America, Old Republic Insurance of Canada and Zurich Canada all wrote requesting the same thing.
Old Republic commented: “Mandatory entry level training standards will provide that needed benchmark to ensure those licensed to drive commercial trucks have the necessary skills to help them safely navigate Canada’s roadways. Our company believes strongly that mandatory entry level training standards must be implemented.”
But of course, those in the trucking industry know that the issue is not cut and paste.
On one hand, a driver with the required driving skills should be able to go for their commercial driver’s license test without first going to a mandatory training program. It’s been that way for many years. But the industry also wants truck drivers to have a better image, to be recognized as professionals, not unskilled labour as it is now, according to the Canadian Trucking Alliance’s Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF) report on the driver shortage.
The BRTF acts as a warehouse of information, research and outreach material exclusively dealing with the driver shortage. They say mandatory entry level training is part of the solution to a better image and more new skilled drivers, which the industry desperately needs and wants.
Current licensing conditions for commercial trucks lack benchmarks for candidates to be measured against. Mandatory entry level training would make truck driving a skilled occupation and produce better new drivers, it may even help reduce driver shortages.
The Guarantee Company of North America commented: “Currently, years of experience and driver vehicle abstracts are the only benchmarking criteria for determining driver’s qualifications. There currently isn’t any criteria in place to obtain a heavy commercial license or ensure that a safety standard is maintained in the critical first three years of licensing. Having a program such as mandatory entry level training will create and maintain a culture of safe driving behaviour and increased driver confidence.”
The OTA’s President, David Bradley, says some provinces are gaining traction, but there’s still some work to do.
“There is still a very long road ahead and major hurdles persist, which is why the training and insurance industries joining OTA on this issue is an important step,” Bradley says. “The good news is that at the very least a dialogue is now underway.”
In its letter, Northbridge Insurance said that mandatory entry level training would bring “much deserved respect to truck driving as a valued and skilled occupational skilled trade” and a “necessary step to ensure qualified men and women are behind the wheel of Canada’s distribution network.”
Zurich added: “We believe that establishing a qualification standard will ensure that driving a commercial vehicle is recognized as a profession and an important career, rekindling the deserved respect for the profession while also making our roads even safer.”
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