Home Truck News OTA favors graduated approach to licensing truck drivers - Truck News

OTA favors graduated approach to licensing truck drivers – Truck News

The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) is encouraging the provincial government to consider a graduated approach to licensing truck drivers, based on vehicle configurations and a licensing endorsement regime.

The OTA outlined this new training direction in a letter to Prabmeet Sarkaria, minister of transportation, before industry-wide consultations planned as part of the Safer Roads and Communities Act.

The OTA board has been discussing the issue of driver training since the fall and has provided direction on concepts that can shape what the future of truck driver training in the province could look like.  

(File photo: Leo Barros)

“OTA believes introducing a graduated approach to licensing truck drivers, based on the configurations they operate and through a licensing endorsement regime, is the direction that needs to be considered by the Ministry,” said OTA’s senior vice-president of policy, Geoff Wood, in a news release.  

Prospective truck drivers would enroll in an entry-level truck driver training program at the beginning of the training journey and, upon successful completion, would be eligible to participate in a certified trucking company or driver training school program to earn a specific configuration endorsement. 

Once an endorsement is obtained, the driver will be fully licensed and certified to operate the specific configuration.

“There is already a precedent in that responsible trucking operations are already engaged in the endorsement phase concept, albeit not formally recognized,” OTA said in a release, explaining that in the industry, it is currently known as boarding, upskilling, or mentoring processes.

Usually, these programs are self-funded by trucking companies and borne out of necessity, based on several factors like driver’s insurability and future ability to be efficient, which is a productivity consideration for the carrier, OTA said. It added that since not all fleets take on this responsibility, road safety can be impacted.

“Each configuration has its own unique operating and maneuverability characteristics, [and] is designed for carrying different types of cargo and as the number of axles or semi-trailers increase in the configuration, so does the potential weight of the vehicle. All these factors require specific training and skills to ensure that drivers can safely and efficiently operate these vehicles,” Wood said. 

As this new endorsement concept is discussed, it would need to have a certification component and address both funding and insurability considerations.

According to the OTA, the funding would ideally be institutional, similar to that available to other designated occupations, and available for qualifying carriers to offset some of the costs they currently incur. The association believes this could also incentivize carriers to train new drivers. 

The design of a robust and proactive oversight regime for carriers, driving training schools and trainers engaged in the onboarding and mentoring endorsement process would be critical, Wood said.

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