Do Truck Drivers Need More Training?
You’ve likely seen a semi truck making a tight turn or difficult maneuver, and think “Wow, those drivers are skilled. They must have a lot of training!” True, there are thousands of trained, experienced, and professional truck drivers. But is this always the case?
The findings of this CBC News investigation may surprise you.
Qualifications of a Truck Driver
Tractor-trailers can be up to 75 feet (23 meters) long, carry 60,000 lbs (30 tonnes) or more at highway speeds. How well are new drivers trained and prepared to operate them? Surprisingly, standards and qualifications vary from province to province. Only one province (Ontario) currently has any training requirements.
In the wake of the Humboldt Broncos accident, this issue came under major scrutiny and media attention. The truck driver involved in the crash had only 2 weeks of training. And that fateful day was his first trip alone.
An Easy to get License
To confirm these details, CBC sent an undercover student to a training facility in Saskatchewan. After just 16 hours of instruction and a 45 minute road test, he was fully certified and licensed to drive a tractor-trailer anywhere in North America. They sent the same driver through the more rigorous training program in Ontario. He failed nearly every test. His previous training program didn’t even cover how to connect a trailer to the truck. Carole Dore, an instructor at the Ontario facility said, “It’s plainly not safe for him to be on the road. Just because he has his license, doesn’t mean he’s ready”.
Low Training Standards
So why are most provinces reluctant to enforce mandatory training and higher standards for tests? Driver shortage. Canada needs tens of thousands of new truck drivers. This, coupled with the higher cost of more extensive training, has caused provincial governments to delay making any driver licensing changes. What makes things really interesting is that the federal government has the ability and resources to impose stricter rules and qualifications on each province.
However, they currently allow each province to create their own policies and standards. This has caused a ‘patch-work’ system of training programs without any unified standards. Many affected by the Humboldt incident, or other tractor-trailer accidents, disagree with the decisions being made about truck safety.
The Need for Real Training
There have been thousands of lawsuits filed in the hopes of forcing the industry and governments to change their viewpoint. Russell
Herold, whose son was killed in the Humboldt accident, sums the issue up well. “Make this a priority. Make saving lives a priority. Why should we wait until somebody else dies on the highway?”
While government policies vary for different provinces and states, most require all companies with 9 or more employees to have a designated Health and Safety Representative. This representative needs to have annual training and regularly identify safety hazards to the employer. However, many companies have gone beyond these minimum requirements, adding additional training and certification to their company policies. Frequently meetings and safety reminders also help prevent accidents and injuries.
Whether you’re a new driver, an experienced driver, or an employer, we can all help improve the safety of the trucking industry. Be committed to keeping health and safety at the forefront of your business.
Our Commitment to Safety
At T&P, we try to set the bar for safety high as we continually push to go beyond the trucking industry standards for training and safety. We don’t mind being transparent when it comes our viewpoint of putting a high value on not only the lives of our drivers, but on everyone else they share the road with.
We do this by holding semi-annual fleet wide safety meetings, so that all our drivers can stay up to date with new regulations and safety protocols. We are also proud of our new driver program, where our safety manager personally trains each new driver to match our high standards, regardless of their previous experience.
Not every accident is avoidable, but if each company does their part by maintaining a constant high level of safety training, we can all work together to be proud of our drivers and reduce the number of roadside fatalities.