Semi drivers will need more extensive training beginning March 1
By Diego Flammini
Potential changes to Alberta’s commercial truck driver training requirements could affect farm businesses.
All Class 1 semi drivers in the province must earn a Safety Fitness Certificate. But, as of March 1, new drivers will also be required to complete the Pre-Entry for New National Safety Code Carriers program.
Passing that program includes participating in an online safety and compliance course, scoring at least 80 per cent in a knowledge test and completing a new carrier compliance review within one year of operation.
Producers worry such extensive training requirements will cut into daily business operations.
Finding a balance between normal amounts of regulations while understanding the needs of the ag industry is necessary, said Lynn Jacobson, an Enchant, Alta. grain farmer and president of the Alberta Federation of Agriculture.
“There are aspects of the commercial trucking training that we wouldn’t use in agriculture,” he told Farms.com. “It’s not that drivers don’t need safety training and we’re not talking about getting rid of the training completely but, realistically, we might be able to ask for some exemptions to help save time and the costs associated with training.”
Saskatchewan will introduce new training requirements on March 15.
But drivers working for an agribusiness can receive a special endorsement. Implementing similar rules in Alberta might be the best way to proceed, Jacobson said.
Other Alberta farm groups are asking for a deadline extension.
Complying in time for March 1 would be challenging for several farmers, said Team Alberta, which represents the province’s barley, canola, pulse and wheat growers.
“Team Alberta supports safer and more highly skilled drivers operating on our roads and highways,” Hannah Konschuh, vice-chair of the Alberta Wheat Commission, said in a statement. “But the timelines and lack of consultation with farmers would make it virtually impossible to comply with new regulations by the deadline.”