Too many die in heavy truck crashes, B.C. auditor says

This truck crashed on Highway 1 east of Kamloops in May 2013.

 

In the wake an a report on heavy truck crashes in B.C., the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce is calling for mandatory truck driver training.

The chamber noted the B.C. Superintendent of Motor Vehicles requires only a pass on a written examination and a two-hour road test, combined with a 16-hour ICBC-approved course on airbrake testing.

In the wake an a report on heavy truck crashes in B.C., the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce is calling for mandatory truck driver training.

The chamber noted the B.C. Superintendent of Motor Vehicles requires only a pass on a written examination and a two-hour road test, combined with a 16-hour ICBC-approved course on airbrake testing.

“There are cases in Canada where people have applied for and obtained a commercial vehicle driver’s license in as little as three days,” said chamber president Joshua Knaak.

Heavy commercial vehicles such as dump trucks and semi-trailers represent only three percent of vehicles on B.C. roads, but they are involved in 19 percent of fatal accidents, B.C.’s auditor general states in a new report.

Auditor General Carol Bellringer has released an independent report on commercial vehicle safety, noting that most of those accidents are not the commercial driver’s fault and that safety programs to inspect and enforce regulations are working well.

Her report notes B.C. does not have mandatory driver training for commercial vehicles and suggested accidents can be further reduced with other measures.

The report states safety education about heavy vehicles can save lives and should be extended to all drivers, not just those behind the wheel of big rigs.

Bellringer urged all drivers to review the province’s “Be Truck Aware” safe driving tips.

“Currently, drivers are not required to take specialized training to get their commercial license in B.C.,” Bellringer said.

“In comparison, Europe has had mandatory training for commercial drivers in place for more than 10 years, Ontario brought it in last year, the United States is phasing it in over three years and Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Alberta all have plans to do so soon.”

The audit found that while the public safety ministry, in charge of policing, the transportation ministry and ICBC, all have education and awareness efforts for commercial vehicle safety, no one agency has overall responsibility and resources to do the job.

In 2016, the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce membership voted at its annual general meeting to lobby government for required truck driver training in B.C.

Recommendations to the provincial government included:

• Create a minimum standard for accreditation of commercial driving programs based on the national occupational standard;

• Require mandatory graduation from an accredited commercial driving program in order to qualify to take the exam for the professional driver license;

• Amend the graduated license program to allow graduates of the accredited commercial driving program to obtain their class 1 or 3 licenses upon graduation (as early as age 18);

• Amend the national occupational stand to move professional driving from class C to class B.