The Ministry of Transportation in Ontario has just announced huge changes to the driver’s test for tractor trailers. This new testing plan aims to increase the standards of driver quality, and also hopefully begin to get rid of “licensing mills”. Starting on July 1, 2017, all drivers will be required to pass Class A mandatory entry-level training (MELT). This new training is expected to take around 4 to 6 weeks, and once training schools have been “accredited” by the province, they will then be expected to upgrade the training curriculum within the next year and add more training in accordingly, now that the time allotted for training has increased.
The new standard is expected to encompass some 100 hours of training for new drivers. Officials have suggested the standard will include 36.5 hours in the classroom, 17 hours in yard, 18 hours behind the wheel and off the road, and 32 hours on the road. Another 12 hours of air brake training is available, but won’t be required to pass the training or receive certification.
Currently, there is no Class A standard, or a way to approve driving schools individually, which has led to a number of training schools offering drivers inexpensive training courses which teach the bare minimum to pass the test. Without a way to regulate these types of programs, drivers are obviously opting for the cheaper options, which has resulted in many of these trained drivers finding difficulty in being hired on.
Once the new standards are in place for training and in the field experience, the Ministry of Transportation believes this will attract more, highly qualified drivers to an industry that is beginning to feel the strain of a rapidly shrinking population.