What’s being discussed in trucking offices country-wide?
After several meetings with the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO), the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario recently announced that it will approve MTO’s draft training standards on Mandatory Entry Level Driver Training (MELT) in the province of Ontario.
The TTSAO did not initially plan to endorse the draft, but senior MTO representatives pledged to address all the issues that TTSAO raised before MELT is officially implemented in 2017. Some of the issues that have been addressed include instructor qualification criteria, verification of training hours and night time training.
According to the President of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, who is also a TTSAO board member, the MTO satisfactorily addressed the issues raised and have demonstrated their commitment to working with all relevant stakeholders on an ongoing basis.
Raising the Bar
The Ontario Trucking Association is constantly striving to raise the bar to ensure that those entering the trucking industry receive a set standard of quality training. That’s why OTA committee members were actively involved as advisors in the development of the MELT curriculum. Various training schools and other transportation related organizations also provided meaningful input. The draft MELT training standard has received wide support among driving schools and carriers of all sizes who welcome the initiative.
The draft will require that drivers in training complete a minimum of 103.5 hours of instruction (36.5 hours of classroom instruction, 17 hours of pre-trip inspection in the yard, 18 hours in the truck off-road and 32 hours of one-on-one driver training behind the wheel) before they can go on to complete their road test.
Until now drivers could complete single-day training at some schools that charge less than $1,000 for commercial class driver programs. These programs have thus far been able to avoid provincial regulations. The introduction of MELT will help the Ontario government close this loophole. Schools that don’t meet the MELT standard requirements will no longer be able to hand out licences.
Clearly, the bar has been raised, transitioning from assembly line “licensing mills” to more in-depth, rigorous commercial truck driver training. The MELT standard will also include new road and written examinations. The on-road test will ensure new drivers can safely complete four right turns, four left turns, four intersections (two stop and two through), two lane changes, one driving along, one expressway section, two curves (one left and one right), and one emergency roadside stop/start. To demonstrate their backing skills, drivers will also have to complete either an offset backing (left or right) or an alley dock 90-degree backing.
Additionally, the written test will now comprise of 30 questions rather than 20, randomly selected from a set of 120 new competency-based questions developed by the MTO and its partners.
These changes will ensure that drivers enter the field with a much higher level of competency. The introduction of a new MELT standard will also help break down the inaccurate perception that truck driving is a low-skill occupation. This will hopefully attract greater interest in the industry, which is facing a driver shortage.
Melt will replace MTO’s current Driver Certification Program Training Standard and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities’ 2010 Tractor-Trailer (AZ) Driver Standard. With the final MELT standard to be released this month, addressing such remaining issues as jurisdictional reciprocity, advanced standing, vehicle configuration, standardized record of training and instructor requirements, positive changes are on the horizon. The industry will have a year to get prepared to implement MELT standards and regulations, which will come into effect July 2017.
CHET Is Proud to Follow MELT Standards
Like the MTO, CHET has long been committed to setting a higher standard for entry-level commercial truck drivers training. We are proud to deliver an industry-standard driver from our school direct to Musket. History has proven that drivers prepped by CHET have better safety experience and fewer incidents with equipment over time.
The entire TTSAO program is a 200-hour model which the MELT requirements align with to a very large degree. This puts CHET in a favourable position as we already deliver a course which meets nearly all incoming requirements. Our curriculum only needs to refine some backing techniques to comply with the new standards of MELT.
The industry is taking a large step forward in Ontario by making this a mandatory element prior to taking a Road Test. The amount of required knowledge and technical skill should elevate newly minted drivers above the level that previous drivers attained.
The hope of the Ministry of Transportation, and that of the MTCU is that the roads will be safer as a result and newer drivers will drive with more confidence and care. Ultimately, both groups will benefit.