The president of the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) thinks it’s time the province imposed tougher licensing regulations. Right now all a prospective trucker needs to get behind the wheel of a big rig is a Class ‘G’ license and completion of a road test.
OTA president David Bradley says that system just isn’t rigorous enough. One big part of the problem: not all road tests are the same. Bradley says that while some of these courses can be very rigorous and cost upwards of $15,000 (like the course offered by Ayr-based Tri-County Training, which involves 280 hours of classroom and in-vehicle training), many trucker programs are much cheaper and far less intensive.
“They provide just enough training and information in order to pass,” Bradley said in a recent interview. “So many of these people go to these cut-rate places, they get their … licence, they read that there’s a shortage of truck drivers in Ontario and they think they’re going to get a job – well, no reputable company would hire them.”
Mark Laforge, a Canadian trucker who’s been driving commercial vehicles for more than two decades, says people need to take the job far more seriously. “It’s not just holding the steering wheel and going up and down the road,” Laforge says. “There’s an awful lot of things you need to know.”
Laforge says that lately he’s been seeing too much dangerous driving among truck drivers and thinks a more rigorous training system would help improve the situation. “I see them doing all kinds of dangerous things,” noted Laforge, who listed several concerning trends, including “speeding, lane changing, cutting people off, [and] taking space where there is none.”
Of course, there’s a similar debate going on south of the border, too. Just last month a safety group, the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, sued the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) because the agency has been allegedly dragging its feet in introducing minimum entry-level training rules for commerical vehicle operators.
There’s no doubt, though, that many truckers north and south of the forty-ninth parallel would insist that it’s not just commercial drivers who need better training. Many truckers passionately insist that drivers of passenger vehicles also need more rigorous training in how to share the road with large commercial vehicles.