N.B. announces new mandatory training for truck drivers

Starting April 1, new transport drivers in New Brunswick will be required to take an approved training program before being able to hit the road.

The province announced Monday the new program adopts training standards that are consistent with the national safety code.

It’s a move long awaited for Chris McKee, the executive director of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association(opens in a new tab).

“Currently in New Brunswick there is no minimum requirement for training for someone to go become a truck driver. So once you receive a medical certificate saying your medically fit and can prove that you can operate air brakes and receive an air brake endorsement, anyone can go and challenge a class 1 licence,” said McKee.

McKee said what the new program does is put a nationally-recognized minimum standard behind truck driver training in the province.

In-class instruction, in-yard instruction and in-cab or on-the-road training will be part of the new training.

In a news release sent by the province on Monday, Public

Safety Minister Kris Austin said the mandatory training will ensure new commercial truck drivers have the basic knowledge and driving skills to help improve highway safety for everyone in the province.

It’s a definite positive as far as Devon Chown is concerned, who has been driving transports for two-and-a-half years.

“Once they introduced the MELT [Mandatory Entry-Level Training] program in Ontario, the same premise as here, it became 10 times better because it took the unqualified and unskilled off the roads and brought in a whole batch of guys that care,” said Chown. “It weeds out those who are doing it for a job and those who are doing it because they want to do it.”

Hubert Vienneau has been on the road for over two decades.

“It’s a good thing for a new driver to learn more and more on the road. With 25 years of experience I can see some young guys need more training,” said Vienneau.

McKee said the federal government made a lot of safety changes after the Humboldt bus crash tragedy six years ago.

Sixteen people were killed and 13 were injured on April 6, 2018 when a truck driver slammed into a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos hockey team on a Saskatchewan highway.

“Just making sure there is a national minimum standard is definitely one of the key factors that came out of Humboldt,” said McKee. “I might add that in Atlantic Canada a lot of our members and a lot of our carriers are utilizing a training standard that is much higher than what the minimum national standard requires.”

New Brunswick is the eighth province or territory implementing the mandatory training.

Current class one drivers will not have to go through the training.