A national trucking industry group is calling for better training standards for drivers in the wake of the Humboldt Broncos bus tragedy.
The April 6 collision between the SJHL team’s bus and a semi truck left 16 people dead and injured 13 more. The collision remains under investigation by RCMP.
Canadian Trucking Alliance president Stephen Laskowski said the increased scrutiny focused on the industry since the crash has led to renewed calls for more provinces to require mandatory training courses before issuing commercial trucking licenses.
“As we look in the mirror as an industry and try to raise the bar of safety, I think governments need to do the same thing at the provincial legislatures,” he said Thursday.
Laskowski’s group represents about 4,500 Canadian trucking companies. He said they’ve been calling for increased training requirements for years.
While Ontario recently mandated a 103.5-hour training program for anyone seeking a Class 1 license, it’s the only province to do so.
“The tests today in most provinces, although they do test safety factors, they definitely aren’t the standard from which we can test someone that’s ready to actually operate a loaded vehicle on a public highway,” Laskowski said.
In practice, Laskowski said reputable companies don’t put freshly licensed drivers out on the roads by themselves before they’ve completed more training in-house, or through a third party.
“They would simply say: ‘I am not going to take someone right out of the test centres, put them in a truck, give them the keys and say ‘off you go…” it’s not going to happen. Nor should it happen.”
Laskowski said an ageing workforce is increasing the pressure to get truck drivers on the road quickly. With that in mind, he said it’s time for provinces to step in.
“What we’d like to see, because of the mass retirements, is the idea of mandatory entry-level training so we get a better candidate once they receive their license. And what does society get? Well, we get a safer driver,” he said.