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Poorly trained commercial drivers a highway hazard, says Insurance Bureau

Report stresses need for training oversight, learning the basics and better enforcement

Inadequately trained commercial truck drivers are putting the safety of Canada's roads and highways in jeopardy, says the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).

The IBC has released a report that finds drivers with less training and experience are more likely to be involved in collisions and make costly claims than drivers with more training and experience. Insurance claims related to commercial trucking accidents have been increasing rapidly in recent years, said an IBC news release.

MNP, a leading professional services firm, prepared the report.

More than 90 per cent of all food, consumer and other material goods moves by truck across Canada.

"The property and casualty insurance industry is working closely with the trucking sector to find solutions to some of the challenges it currently faces, including driver shortages and access to adequate training and risk management,” said Celyeste Power, IBC’s president-CEO.

“This third-party report echoes many of the recommendations that our industry has put forward and we encourage governments across the country to use this report as a call to action to update and improve training and enforcement standards."

In the report, MNP provides recommendations on how to improve training requirements.

  • Truck drivers with less than three years of experience have a greater likelihood of being involved in a collision.
  • Collisions involving heavy loads or dangerous goods tend to be more severe and have potential for greater damage. As a result, the level of required liability coverage increases when these goods are transported, affecting premiums.
  • Premiums for vehicles travelling outside of Canada are impacted by exposure to excessive jury verdicts in the United States — court verdicts where juries award plaintiffs exceptionally high amounts.
  • The enforcement of commercial truck regulations violations is inadequate.
  • Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) has yet to be implemented across Canada.
  • Training quality varies by school; there needs to be oversight, and standards need to be enforced.

MNP concludes that the MELT program does not fully prepare drivers to operate a heavy truck in all conditions and additional one-on-one onboarding and mentorship is needed.

Other recommendations include piloting the use of telematics to provide feedback to commercial truck drivers, and adopting a graduated or progressive licensing system.