Northern Resource Trucking (NRT) in La Ronge supports mandatory training requirements and other changes for truck drivers announced Monday by the Government of Saskatchewan.
“I don't have any concerns,” said NRT Training Division Manager Randy Mihilewicz. “For a lot of the industry, it is a big change. There is no mandatory training, so schools have to deliver a 32-hour program for them to test their own students. Having said that, there is no mandatory minimum or maximum hours you can deliver.”
Starting March 15, 2019, drivers seeking a Class 1 commercial licence in Saskatchewan to drive semi trucks will be required to undergo a minimum of 121.5 hours of training. Also as of that date, the government announced road tests will be undertaken by SGI examiners only and anyone wishing to drive a semi for farming operations will need to successfully obtain an “F” endorsement on their existing driver's licence, and will be restricted to operating within Saskatchewan`s borders.
Effective immediately, a 12-month safety monitoring program is being introduced to all new semi drivers through SGI, meaning more stringent action can be taken post-testing if safety concerns arise. Changes will also include a new government-issued curriculum with instruction in a classroom, in the yard and behind the wheel. But, with NRT already offering a three-month course consisting of 450 hours of educational instruction and experience, Mihilewicz believes NRT is prepared for what's to come.
“It looks like SGI is going to issue their own road test, which I’m in agreeance with,” he said. “For us, we do some of our own testing, but SGI does a lot of the testing too. It's probably a good thing.”
It will be harder for some training companies to cope with the changes, because Mihilewicz added some currently offer a 1A licence, which can be obtained in just three days. That's because all companies currently submit their curriculum through SGI, so there is no industry standard to follow. For the past 20 years, he said NRT has trained about two dozen people annually on how to safely operate a semi-truck.
The government continues to consult with the agricultural industry on impacts of potential mandatory training requirements for that sector as vehicles used generally travel less frequently, shorter distances and in less populated areas.
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