An assembly of leading Canadian trucking insurers and the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario have banded with the Ontario Trucking Association in calling on the province to introduce mandatory entry level training for commercial truck drivers.
Northbridge Insurance, The Guarantee Company of North America, Old Republic Insurance of Canada, Zurich Canada and the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario (TTSAO) all recently penned letters of support for OTA’s position that mandatory entry level training would help reduce the driver shortage and raise the level of the quality of new drivers entering the industry by making truck driving a skilled occupation.
Mandatory entry level training is a key recommendation of both the Canadian Trucking Alliance’s Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF) report on the driver shortage and the landmark Conference Board of Canada study. (Click here to see both documents).
OTA and the provincial associations have been discussing the issue with their respective provinces and OTA recently brought the effort to the attention of Premier Kathleen Wynne.
“There appears to be some traction gaining in certain provinces. While that’s a good sign, 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,” says OTA President David Bradley. “The good news is that at the very least a dialogue is now underway.”
In its letter, Northbridge Insurance stated 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.”
Current licensing conditions surrounding heavy commercial trucks are lacking any benchmark for candidates to be measured against, points out Old Republic: “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.”
Added The Guarantee Company of North America: “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 licence 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.”
“Our ability to produce quality graduates is hindered by reasons identified and outlined by the Blue Ribbon Task Force,” states the TTSAO. “By addressing a multiplicity of standards and curricula and having industry uptake, awareness and buy-in is critical for our identified goals. Mandatory entry level training will ensure a balance is maintained between industry capacity needs and public safety.”
In its letter Zurich also supported the idea of a mandatory entry level training for commercial vehicle drivers, welcoming the opportunity to provide further input for a developmental program down the road. “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.”