Truck driv­ers must get the proper train­ing be­fore they hit the road

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Opinion - DALE FER­REL

As I gaze fondly at how so many things were more sim­ple decades ago, I shake my head at where we are to­day.

That said, I am heart­ened by the odd glim­mer of san­ity that emerges in spite of the clut­tered, con­tam­i­nated world we now live in. Yes, we must keep in mind that life can only be un­der­stood back­wards, but it must be lived for­ward.

The glim­mer of good from the hor­rific ac­ci­dent that claimed nearly the en­tire Hum­boldt Bronco’s hockey team and its sup­port­ing staff has spurred a long over­due out­rage over the ter­ri­bly lax sys­tem for train­ing and test­ing driv­ers of heavy haul­ing trucks.

When I was on high­way pa­trol nearly 4 decades ago, such ac­ci­dents were ex­tremely rare. Ve­hi­cle checks sel­dom re­vealed any driver or equip­ment prob­lems. Larger com­pa­nies had their own ghost cars mon­i­tor­ing their driv­ers and by and large speed gov­er­nors, log books and such were straight up. Driv­ers were cour­te­ous and of­ten the first to lend a hand if our sit­u­a­tion re­quired it.

I re­cently in­ter­viewed a driver who has a 1A li­cence. His in­sight into to­day’s un­nec­es­sary mess was most in­ter­est­ing. He took his train­ing in Saska­toon and his trainer pulled no punches in ad­vis­ing him that he was not ready to hit the road un­til he had 3 weeks of train­ing. Safety checks, hook­ing and un­hook­ing trail­ers, back­ing into load­ing docks and city driv­ing were all manda­tory.

When he looked at a ca­reer driv­ing for a large truck­ing firm, he found out that he would have to train all over again us­ing test­ing and even sim­u­la­tor train­ing. He would be checked by a sea­soned driver. He would progress to larger and heav­ier loads over a lengthy pe­riod of time. He also com­mented that in this day of tech­nol­ogy, ev­ery driver can record his safety checks on his phone, for re­view by his em­ployer. Logs, stops, speed, lo­ca­tion and such could all be eas­ily mon­i­tored the same way. Con­triv­ing bot­tom feed­ers with un­trained driv­ers and junk equip­ment, keep­ing mul­ti­ple logs should be elim­i­nated

The buck pass­ing be­tween prov­inces and the fed­eral Lib­er­als. must end im­me­di­ately. All of the afore­men­tioned mod­ern pro­cesses could eas­ily be manda­tory Canada wide. Es­pe­cially since the de­mand for more driv­ers is steadily in­creas­ing. un­be­liev­able that he could legally op­er­ate any­where in North Amer­ica!

Mar­ket Place hid­den cam­eras re­cently re­vealed that their un­der­cover driver trainee, did 16 hours of train­ing and a 45 minute pro­vin­cial road test in Saskatchewan be­fore be­ing legally li­censed as a Class1 com­mer­cial driver.

When he un­der­went a skill test­ing chal­lenge in On­tario where the min­i­mum is 103 hours of in­struc­tion, he failed al­most ev­ery chal­lenge; in­clud­ing prop­erly con­nect­ing a trailer and back­ing into a load­ing dock.

I know of an in­stance where a truck need­ing emer­gency re­pairs was put up on a hoist and the me­chanic saw a hole cut in the cab floor.

Hu­man waste was sprayed down its un­der­car­riage. The oc­cu­pants were not even stop­ping to use a bath­room. I have per­son­ally wit­nessed three truck oc­cu­pants rac­ing into an eat­ing es­tab­lish­ment near a high­way, hav­ing a quick potty break, do­ing a quick wash in the sinks, fill­ing their wa­ter bot­tles and rac­ing away with­out buy­ing a sin­gle item. The same types of three­somes of­ten con­sist of one prop­erly li­censed driver who is sup­posed to be mon­i­tor­ing the other two with learner’s li­cences.

When their men­tor is sleep­ing the over­worked, ex­hausted learn­ers are on their own. This in­evitable, un­scrupu­lous car­nage must be halted and must have se­ri­ous con­se­quences.

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