It's About Damn Time: Driver Trainer Careful optimistic about mandatory training for Sask. Half Drivers

A veteran semi-driving instructor says the Saskatchewan government is heading in the right direction with new rules for prospective drivers.

On Monday, SOC (Government) Insurance (SGI) announced various training requirements for people seeking to obtain a semi-trailer trains.

Instructor Reg Lewis is presenting the government for years to bring in the compulsory driver education.

"It's about damn time," he said. "It's a step in the right direction, but I do not think it goes far enough," he said.

Joe Hargrave, the Minister of Government responsible for SGI, said that the province had been since mid-2017 in how to improve training and testing for semi-drivers.

"Everyone involved in the process that led to the new requirements share the same goal – to reduce the number of collisions involve semi-trafficking and the number of people hurt and killed in the collisions," he told reporters.

Saskatchewan was under fire for his lack of mandatory training after the humbold bronchus bus crash. Sixteen people died and 13 were injured when the bus from the team was injured in April.

While Hargrave says that the revised rules are more than a year in the work, predicting the crash, he admitted the crash affected everyone.

"Everybody feels it in their heart," he said. "Sometimes a tragedy like that brings people and they go," the industry needs to evolve into it. "

Swift Current Driving Instructor Reg Lewis is pleased the Saskatchewan government has introduced mandatory driver training for semi-trailer tracks. (Jason Warick)

Under SGI's new rules, new half drivers will have to continue a minimum of 121.5 hours of training before trying out their license. That includes a minimum of 47 classroom hours, 17.5 hours driving in the yard and 57 hours behind the wheel.

The province is also changing the curriculum for would-be trackers. It will focus on driving techniques, vehicle inspections and air brakes.

The province also promised more risk driving tests that will only be offered by CIGI examiners.

The new requirements are expected to take place in March 2019.

16 people died and 13 were injured when a bus carrying the humbled Bronx team bus crashed with a half-trailer truck in April. (Jonathan Hayward / Canadian Press)

A new 12-month security monitoring program is also introduced for all new semi-drivers. SGI will monitor the drivers more stringently for a year after their test, so remedial action can be taken if there are safety concerns.

If new drivers are involved in a collision that is their fault, or get any tickets, it may lead to extra penalties.

Existing Class 1 drivers will be grandfathered in the system.

Farm exemptions

People driving for farming operations will be released from the new mandatory training rules and the 12-month period of additional scrutiny.

They would not be permitted to pass semi-trailers outside the province, but would not do any further restrictions.

Farm tracks will be released from the new rules. (Submitted by: Mark Hoffman)

Hargrave said that the farm liberation was a test case and would be monitored before being made permanent. He said adding restrictions to farm operations driving short distances could make hiring personnel difficult.

"It may be a bit more difficult to get a farm worker to pass their half-hoops from their fields in their boots," he said. "Most farmers hire business drivers when there is no distance."

Driving Inspector Lewis said the liberation of farmers means there will still be untrined half drivers on Saskatchewan roads.

"I do not think there should be any exemptions," said Luis.

Meanwhile, Saskatchewan Transportation Association (STA) executive director Susan Evart said the union member praised the new changes. She has no bumps with the new farming program can be ironed out.

"I think the thing we need to look at is competitive-based knowledge," she said. "Maybe it's a different sort of curriculum, maybe it's not as wide as, say, if I was a new driver, which I would have to do."

Some provinces like Ontario need a minimum of hours of training required for a driver to try for a license. Saskatchewan, along with many other provinces, does not require any training.

Last year, more than 200 people who tried their license in Saskatchewan did not get any training. Three-quarters of students trying for their class 1 license passed on their first test. One student passed the exam after eight times in a row.

In 2009, the record number of crashes involving semis in any year in Saskatchewan never exceeded 943. It has been over 1,000 every year since.

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