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Articles and Publications

June 2016

Mandatory Training for Commercial Truckers a Welcome Change

Peter W. Vlaar
Peter W. Vlaar,
Associate Lawyer

by Peter W. Vlaar, Associate Lawyer

On June 28, 2016, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (the Ministry) made an announcement that has significant implications for both the trucking and insurance industry. As of July 1, 2017, individuals seeking to obtain their Class A license for commercial trucks will be required to successfully complete an entry-level training course before being permitted to take their Class A road test.

The mandatory entry-level training will take four to six weeks to complete and will be delivered throughout Ontario by private colleges and authorities recognized by the Ministry. Once individual completion is confirmed on a provincial-based web system, Ontario Drive Test centres will then permit applicants to attempt the Class A road test. Current Class A commercial truck drivers are not required to complete the training.

The Ministry has provided a Curriculum Standard which the interested colleges are required to follow in teaching the courses. Based on the draft Curriculum Standard, the training will involve three learning environments: in-class, in-yard, and in-cab. The curriculum must teach defensive driving techniques and continually reinforce safety and risk in operating a commercial truck. There must be an emphasis on experiential learning and the class sizes cannot exceed a ratio of fifteen students to one instructor.

This additional training requirement is the first of its kind in the country ...

This additional training requirement is the first of its kind in the country and reflects the Ministry's particular concern for the current state of truck driver training and overall road safety. While accidents on Ontario roads involving transport trucks have actually decreased by 40% in the past 10 years – according to Transportation Minister, Steven De Duca – despite a 19% increase in the number of trucks registered in Ontario, there nonetheless remains a need for qualified and well trained commercial Class A truck drivers within the industry.

This new mandatory training program is significant for the insurance industry because it will inevitably reduce the number of collisions involving commercial truck drivers registered in Ontario, which in turn will reduce the number of claims for insurers of both commercial trucks and personal vehicles. It also offers insurers of commercial trucks an opportunity to revisit their policies and premiums for drivers that become licensed in Ontario after July 1, 2017. For instance, a new Class A driver licensed in Ontario might warrant a reduced premium compared to that of a new Class A driver licensed in any other province in light of the Ontario driver's additional training in the safe and proper operation of commercial trucks. Insurers might view this as an opportunity to attract new business both within and outside of Ontario.

While the benefit and effectiveness of the Ministry's new training requirement can only be measured by time, it is difficult to imagine that it will do anything other than reduce collisions and improve the overall safety of Ontario's roads. That is, in our view, welcome change!


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