OPINION: New driver training not a cure-all for highway safety

Saskatchewan will soon join Ontario as one of the few jurisdictions in Canada that will require mandatory training for a Class 1 license to drive a semi truck.

As of March 15, those that want to drive a semi in Saskatchewan will need to spend 121.5 hours training – slightly more than five days.

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Having more training for those people that drive a multi-ton vehicle at speeds of up to 120 kilometres an hour is a good thing, but it should not be the final word in highway safety.

First of all, there’s the fact that as it stands right now, semi truck drivers in Alberta, Manitoba and the rest of the country except Ontario don’t have any mandatory training. Considering that commercial truck driving is, by its nature, a job where people from everywhere are going everywhere, that’s a big hole.

Yet the last time I talked to Humboldt-Watrous MLA Donna Harpauer, I was told there was interest in ensuring there was consistent standards between Saskatchewan and its two neighbouring provinces, so maybe there are a few more announcements yet to come as those provinces get their ducks in a row.

The other big concern that I have is farmers will be able to be able to drive semis within the province of Saskatchewan without the mandatory training with a special “F” endorsement on their license.

The assumption is that farmers will only be driving short distances in less densely populated areas. I’d like to see a few more rules to ensure its that assumption that’s playing out. I understand there will be a few consultations between the province and the agriculture industry. Hopefully that will result in more detailed rules that address safety and those farmers along the edges of the province that work across the boundaries.

Yet in the end, no amount of training will override the fact that everyone on the road has to pay attention and follow the directions given by signs. It only takes a momentary lapse in judgement for the results to be fatal.

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