While there have been some learning elements since the introduction of mandatory entry level training in Ontario in July 2017, the government and industry should be congratulated for the gains that have been realized since, says Stephen Laskowski, president of the Ontario Trucking Association and Canadian Trucking Alliance.
“What we’re talking about is mandatory pre-licensing training and raising the floor, which was a huge issue for safety,” said Laskowski at an annual meeting of the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario (TTSAO).
As reported by Today’s Trucking magazine, about 10,500 would-be truck drivers have passed through Ontario’s mandatory entry-level training (MELT) program. And while the province’s transportation ministry is still learning lessons along the way, overall the experience has been positive, says Paul Harbottle, director of the Ontario Ministry of Transportation’s program development and evaluation branch.
Harbottle reported that although Ontario’s test failure rates did climb when MELT was first established, they are beginning to come down and stabilize.
Ongoing discussions around the program centre around are exploring qualifications for driving instructors, the potential for standardized tests, and the use of automated versus manual transmissions.
“We do not have full agreement at the table, but we are getting close to getting consensus,” he said.
DriveTest centers have also hired additional examiners and are relying on overtime to schedule more road tests. And Serco, which delivers the tests, has enhanced its own internal training to address inconsistent approaches. “In the early days there’s going to be differences. It’s going to happen. It’s going to exist,” he said.
Mike Millian, president of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, puts entry-level training into perspective by asking why fleets expect newly licensed drivers to be able to do everything as soon as they come out of school. “You have a responsibility,” he said of the fleet training that should follow licensing.
“All the regulation is a minimum standard, not a best practice,” he adds. “… We like but we have to start somewhere. Nobody should ever reach for the minimum.”
Harbottle stressed that Ontario continues to play a leading role as discussions about a national standard begin as well.
“We’re committed, and we remain committed, to the MELT program.”
Full story here.