As Ontario looks to improve mandatory entry-level training (MELT) for new drivers, the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario (TTSAO) has outlined a plan to certify driver instructors.
The association wants instructors to undergo a three-day course approved by the Ministry of Transportation as well as a full MELT course. Instructors would then have one year from the date of hire to become certified.
“The majority of the potential instructors come from existing drivers currently employed in the trucking industry. Hiring quality people to become commercial instructors is much more difficult and time consuming than hiring professional drivers,” TTSAO said in a related discussion paper.
The existing MELT framework, in place for more than five years, is being updated.
“Whereas certain segments of the transportation industry have been critical of the current state of the legislation, we at the TTSAO remain confident and steadfast in our support of updating the MELT to increase road safety for all drivers and create a high-quality program,” TTSAO said in a release.
“Our mandate and goal throughout this revamping of MELT is to build on the baseline of learning, enhance skills and increase knowledge during the entire training process.”
Instructors need education
Philip Fletcher, TTSAO president, said the organization has been working with stakeholders for a couple of years to establish a certification process for instructors. It hopes to see that built into any future MELT updates.
“Not only do [students] deserve it, the instructor needs education on the why and how to properly deliver in-class, in-yard and over-the-road training properly,” TTSAO wrote in a document outlining its mission. “Learning how to drive a tractor-trailer properly is no easy task. It takes plenty of practice and it is a huge responsibility. Being an instructor of these big rigs is also a huge responsibility and cannot be taken lightly. To become a competent instructor takes time. You don’t go from driving one day to being an instructor the next.”
It noted that training is required so instructors realize what the job entails. Currently, many instructors go back on the road as drivers within three to nine months, resulting in turnover and additional training costs for training schools.
The TTSAO’s proposal would require new in-truck and in-yard instructors to take a three-day TTSAO Commercial Instructor Course within four months of being hired. New in-class instructors would also be required to take the course before they’re able to teach a class, also within four months of hire.
TTSAO says it would offer the course at least four times a year, or as demand dictates.