Ontario considering changes to air brake endorsement renewal

Ontario’s proposal to introduce learning modules for drivers to maintain their air brake (Z) endorsement prior to renewing their driving licences is generating opposing views among trucking organizations.

The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) is in favor of the plan, while the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada (PMTC) and Ontario Safety League (OSL) expressed their opposition.

The province plans to implement a phased approach to introduce learning modules as an alternative to the knowledge test taken at a DriveTest Centre. Presently, if a driver fails the air brake knowledge test, they lose the Z endorsement and their licence is downgraded.

The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) will introduce the program beginning with driver certification program (DCP) organizations that deliver air brake knowledge tests for renewals, and then expand it to all air brake endorsement holders.

In the first phase, participants will complete the learning module through their DCP organization, who will record it to update MTO records. The participants will then have to pay the renewal fee at a DriveTest Centre.

Learning module can be completed at home

In the second phase, the learning module can be completed at home or an individual may complete the knowledge test through a DriveTest Centre. If the module is completed at home, the driver can print or download a certificate of completion and pay the renewal fee at a DriveTest Centre.

OTA president Stephen Laskowski said the association’s board and members are support the proposal.

Geoff Wood, OTA’s senior vice-president, policy, added that electronic proctoring technology will help ensure people do not cheat during the learning module.

Laskowski said that the responsibility of the driver with regards to having air brake knowledge is not being eliminated and nor is the knowledge test. Individuals have already passed the test and the learning modules will provide a refresher going forward.

A truck driving school official was also in favor of the proposal, saying invigilation software could be used to ensure the authenticity of the person attending the learning module.

Radek Rogowski, operations manager at Richards Driving School in Mississauga, Ont., said taking drivers through an air brake refresher during renewal is not a bad idea as it adds another layer of training.

“If implementation is sloppy, it will be a problem,” he added.

Opposition to plan

The plan is also generating opposition. PMTC president Mike Millian said there must be a written knowledge test at a DriveTest Centre. Learning modules are a good way to increase knowledge, he added, but wanted to know how it would be verified that knowledge was gained, and that the module was taken by the correct person.

“In phase two of the proposal, you can log in online and do it from anywhere, how are you going to know who answered the questions?” he asked.

Millian also wants to know what the learning module would look like. He said he is not in favor of the proposal of doing either a learning module or completing a knowledge test during air brake endorsement renewals.

The OSL, an organization that provides MTO-approved air brake endorsement instructor training among other courses, is opposed to the proposal on safety grounds.

The league’s president and CEO Brian Patterson said the proposal is being masqueraded as a victory against red tape, but that is not the case. “It is unsafe for the public. We think it would be a disaster,” he added.

The province is seeking public comment on the proposal and the last date to provide input is March 16.