OTA lauds draft standard driver training proposal

by MM&D Online Staff

Toronto, Ontario–A draft curriculum for mandatory entry-level training (MELT) for Class A drivers in Ontario will ensure that all prospective Class A drivers acquire adequate basic competency in all critical areas of safe vehicle operation while improving skills development for new drivers, says the Ontario Trucking Association.

In a letter this week to the Ministry of Transportation’s Program Development & Evaluation Branch, OTA says the draft standard’s proposal to require 103.5 minimum hours of instruction before being permitted to take a road test–with 58 hours of “hands on the wheel” one-on-one driver training–establishes a new bar for effective learning compared to the current situation where so-called “licence mills” are known to ‘graduate’ driving students through training institutions in 24 hours or less.

“Coupled with new road and written examinations, the MELT Standard will significantly raise the competency of Class A drivers at a very early point in their occupation,” wrote OTA president David Bradley. “This is in contrast to the historical reality of some drivers acquiring minimal to virtually no occupational competency before seeking employment in the industry. Establishment of the competency base embedded in the MELT standard will allow motor carriers to provide on-the-job experience that builds each driver’s competency to the level required for occupational success.”

The final MELT standard, which OTA calls “extensive and relevant”, is expected to be released in July. It will replace to current MTO Driver Certification Program (DCP) Training Standard and the Ministry of Training, Colleges & Universities’ (MTCU) 2010 Tractor-Trailer (AZ) Driver Standard.

Classroom and practical training content, and the hours allocated to each specific section, are based on input from subject matter experts from the carrier, training and insurance fields.

OTA has been a driving force behind the introduction of MELT with the goal to raise the quality of entry level candidates entering the trucking sector. An OTA member committee comprised of over two dozen carriers played a significant role in providing content for the draft standard.

“As employers, OTA carriers have been concerned over the lack of consistency in terms of the competencies possessed by newly-licensed Class A drivers,” says Bradley. “As customers of the training institutions, they have also been concerned over the inconsistent standards of training provided those institutions. The lack of a MELT Standard also perpetuated the perception that truck driving is a low-skill occupation – something the industry must overcome if it is to resolve the long-term, chronic shortage of drivers.”

OTA will continue to work with MTO to address remaining issues integral to the MELT Standard such as a standardized record of training, instructor requirements, jurisdictional reciprocity, advanced standing, vehicle configuration, etc. OTA is also willing to work with other Ministries and industry groups in setting standards for the Private Career Colleges who deliver comparable training and will also be subject to MELT requirements.

OTA will be covering MELT at its much anticipated Council Summit in Toronto on June 22. Everything carriers need to know about the upcoming new standard – as well as a bevy of other issues related to operations, labour, border policy and cargo crime – will be presented in detail at the summit.