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Mandatory training standards on the way for B.C. commercial drivers

New mandatory training standards are coming for B.C. commercial Class one drivers licenses, starting Oct. 18, 2021.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
April 04, 2021 - 7:00 AM

The legacy of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in Saskatchewan is extending to B.C. where truck drivers now face mandatory training.

In 2018, 16 people were killed and another 13 injured after the hockey team’s bus was hit a commercial truck driver.

B.C. was among many provinces that didn’t require mandatory training for commercial truck drivers, but now that’s changing.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure announced the new training standards in a release, March 31.

Mandatory entry-level testing, or MELT, will be required for anyone wishing to take Class one road testing for a commercial drivers license, starting Oct. 18.

B.C. is joining other provinces in implementing mandatory entry-level training for commercial drivers and the new standards are expected to exceed National Safety Code Standards.

B.C.’s new program includes best practices from other Canadian jurisdictions as well as providing emphasis on safe operating practices for mountainous terrain and diverse weather-related driving conditions.

Prior to the new standards, there were no minimum training requirements in B.C. for would-be commercial drivers other than a 16-hour airbrake training course, although drivers did need to pass a knowledge, road and airbrake pre-trip test.

Drivers also had to complete a road test and medical exam.

New drivers will now have to complete a number of behind-the-wheel driving hours, in-yard hours and theoretical instruction hours before qualifying for testing conducted by ICBC.

"Safer Roads Canada is pleased to see British Columbia join the other western provinces in rolling out a MELT program that takes into account the challenging driving conditions and terrain in this province, including winding, narrow mountain passes and icy highways," said Lawrence and Ginny Hunter, Safer Roads Canada board members, whose 18-year-old son Logan was fatally injured in the 2018 Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

The training program is to be delivered by licensed driver training schools in British Columbia, starting early this summer.

Current class one drivers will be exempt from the new standards.

"MELT will improve the behind-the-wheel driver training for people before they become commercial drivers, which will ultimately improve safety on our roads. Creating a higher standard of competence before people can be licensed will help improve driver decision-making, leading to fewer mistakes on the road. The BCTA is supportive of this positive move by the provincial government, as the new driver training program will benefit us all," B.C. Trucking Association President David Earle says.

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