Delays in new truck driver licensing could cost lives

August 02, 2021, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

The Transport Ministry announced a delay to stricter licensing requirements for new truck drivers in Ontario during a hastily called press conference at the end of July. Critics in the trucking industry and beyond are reported to say the delay will ‘jeopardize road safety’ for motorists sharing the roads in Ontario with these large vehicles.

The Toronto Star reports that during a ‘hastily convened’ half-hour conference call the Transport Ministry announced the postponement of the proposed new regulations restricting drivers from operating manual transmission tractor trailers unless they have passed their driving test on that transmission type.

Why Do Manual Transmission Tractor Trailers Require Special Training?

Manual transmission vehicles have upto 18 forward gears and several reverse gears. They are more demanding to operate and the new regulation and licence Class A restricted designation would have been due to start in July. The President of the Ontario Truck Training Association Kim Richardson strongly agrees that it is dangerous to have unskilled drivers using complex manual transmissions in a trailer truck. He said, “I would compare it to someone who gets his pilot’s license in a Cessna and then asks him to fly a jet”.

OPP report that fatal truck accidents increased 40% in the first 6 months of 2021 and attributes this to truck speeds and weights, following too closely, dangerous lane changes and other reasons. This restricted licencing plan would have been part of a broad set of safety reforms that had begun four years ago. These changes included mandatory truck driver education requirements for new drivers which had not been required in the past.

No Comprehensive Driver Education Was Required in the Past

Until four years ago a Class A licence which is required to drive commercial trucks and tractor-trailers could be attained without any formal training. The changes required driving schools to be licenced by the province. Until then many ‘driving’ schools taught their students enough to pass the test but no more.
Some argue that it was not reasonable to enact the regulations in July because the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a shortage of training vehicles, and a huge backlog in driver testing. They also argue that most of the trucks on the roads are already equipped with an automatic transmission.

Have You Been Hurt in an Accident with A Truck?

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident with a tractor-trailer or truck contact the experienced lawyers at Deutschmann Personal Injury and Disability Law today.

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