Flying under the radar to avoid government regulation, Ontario has a new problem contributing to some of the areas trucking accidents: licencing mills.
A report by the Toronto Star revealed a shocking trend in the provinces trucking industry. Discount driving schools aimed to help truckers find employment or learn job skills quickly and cheaply are churning out poor drivers at an alarming rate, and may be partly to blame for the rate of commercial vehicle accidents in Ontario.
Experienced truckers and industry professionals call these unregulated schools licencing mills, and they promise everything from helping students get a trucking gig to giving them just enough experience to meet the requirements for an AZ licence, which permits the holder to operate a commercial vehicle with air brakes.
The schools claims are attracting those desperate for work, or those without enough funds to afford a regulated training program. Under Ontario law, truck driving schools must charge a minimum of $1,000 for the course to be a regulated program; these cut-rate programs charge a maximum of $999 to avoid government scrutiny.
David Bradley, president and CEO of the Ontario Trucking Association, explains that the drivers taking these courses may not realize the hazard they present on the road. Once you have that licence, Bradley explains, you could be driving a double-tanker filled with gasoline down the 401 tomorrow. Clearly, driver inexperience in such a situation could lead to a fiery disaster if the slightest accident occurs, but students in these programs may not see the risk this way.
The Ministry of Transportation governs all vehicle licencing, and in statements representatives from the ministry note that it is actively attempting to take enforcement action against approximately 40 such businesses. It remains to be seen what will come of these schools, but enacting a mandatory schooling standard might improve the possibility that these cut-rate schools either change their policies or go out of business.
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