Residents who want to get a licence to drive a semi truck will now have to go through more training.
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.
At the same time, anyone wishing to drive a semi used in 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. The “F” endorsement will not be required if they already have a Class 1 licence or have taken the mandatory training.
With an “F” endorsement, they can still haul their grain on a highway, but are restricted to working exclusively with farms.
“I think this is a good a step in the right direction for SGI to make it mandatory truck driver training in light of what has happened in this province but also puts us on par with other provinces,” said Ian Boxall, vice president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan. “So the standards will be similar across the country.”
While he supports it, he could see some effects on farmers.
“I think there will be some effect for guys closer to the border that have to haul outside of the province,” Boxall said. “I think they also mentioned there will be a consultation so we can address and go over all those concerns during the consultation period. Whether there will be some weight restrictions or district restrictions on producers I don’t want to see resentment between the general public and farmers because we didn’t have to take the truck driver training.”
These changes were announced by the provincial government on Dec. 3.
“We started this plan in the summer of 2017,” said Joe Hargrave, the minister in charge of SGI. “This isn’t a Humboldt Broncos plan, that tragedy always brings up more to bear on a thing, just because it’s such a tragic thing that happened. But this is about the truck driving training and it was about the industry and where should we be taking the industry.”
The tragedy did have an influence on the new policy.
“Everybody we talked to, it influences and always influences that. Every industry that we talked to, everybody feels it in their heart what’s happened to that. It really brings it to bear, that yeah we do have to get that fixed. And sometimes a tragedy like that does bring people to, ‘yeah you’re absolutely right, the industry needs to involve into this.’”
According to the provincial government, the goal of the change in licence requirements was to make Saskatchewan roads safer for commercial semi truck drivers and everyone who shares the road with them.
“People need to learn how to back up a truck,” Hargrave said. “Some of these basic things, believe it or not some didn’t even know how to backup a truck.”
Training schools will receive instruction and training for the new curriculum which will focus on basic driving techniques, professional driving habits, vehicle inspections and air brakes. It will include instruction in a classroom, in the yard, and behind the wheel. The driver’s tests will be aligned to match.
There will be no change for drivers who already have their Class 1 commercial licence in the province to drive semi trucks.