The Humboldt Broncos bus crash not only shocked us Canadians, it made news headlines in several countries round the world. But here at home it wasn’t a here-and-gone item on the six o’clock news. The incident has been in the public consciousness since that day.
Watching us as a society keep the victims in our collective thoughts and seeing major sports organizations continuing to help out has been a silver lining in that very dark cloud. It’s been something that has helped all of us in this country feel like one big family.
One of the other things to come out of that crash has been a renewed and pretty intense discussion on road safety, specifically as it relates to heavy truck traffic in this country. Over the years, it could be argued that the truck driving profession has lost its lustre. It’s not exactly the go-to profession young people think of like it once was. The pay drivers take home has steadily fallen over the decades. I recall reading an estimate that said if today’s drivers made the equivalent amount they earned in the 1970s, adjusted for inflation, they would now be taking home about $100,000 a year.
The average long-haul driver’s pay now is substantially lower than that. Factor in the need to be away for up to two or three weeks at a time, and you can see how that could dampen anyone’s enthusiasm for the job. The result is companies are having a hard time putting drivers in truck seats. Many major firms have turned to recruiting efforts in other countries to find them. And there are now government expedited immigration programs created to help the industry. It has made truck driving a shortcut path to citizenship for many.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. In fact, quite the opposite, but it does mean that many people taking that route to be citizens have had absolutely no experience that is even remotely similar to driving these vehicles.
So implementing mandatory training now may be even more important than it ever was, especially as some people coming here to drive are from less developed countries. It’s important they’re brought up to speed—so to speak—on how to drive here.
And it’s just as important for those born and raised here to get good training in truck driving, which requires more skill than many might associate with the profession.
Since the Broncos incident, talk of all three Prairie Provinces instituting their own mandatory minimum training programs has heated up. And last month Alberta announced that as of the new year it would institute a mandatory training program. So far, however, no one knows what it will be.
All three Prairie Provinces say they’re working together on setting up a consistent training standard for implementation very soon. No matter what is decided, there will need to be consistency among the provinces.
No one wants to see new arrivals to the country shopping around for the path of least resistance when it comes to learning to drive a rig. And there have already been some reported shenanigans with people abusing the existing training standards—such as they are.
While a mandatory training program is something the trucking industry, itself, has been promoting for a long time, it means that getting a Class 1 licence will soon cost more—a lot more—than it has up until know.
So the fallout from that means if you have or are planning to get a semi for the farm and don’t have the licence to drive it yet, the opportunity to get lower-cost training for the limited miles you’ll drive is going fast. In fact, it’s nearly gone. If you don’t want to spring for the cost of a full-on professional driving course, my advice is get that licence now.