Alberta farm groups seek change to March 1 date for new driver training rules
EDMONTON - A coalition representing Alberta's agriculture producers wants the province to change its launch date on new training rules for truck drivers.
The province says the date will stay in place.
Starting March 1, drivers of semi-trucks and commercial buses will need to take more extensive training, including work in the classroom and on the road, to qualify for a licence.
Team Alberta — representing pulse growers, wheat and barley producers and others — says it's worried the change will affect their operations.
The group says a lot of seasonal work relies on truck drivers and it's worried resources will not be in place to get them tested in time.
The changes were introduced last summer in response to a horrific crash in Saskatchewan involving an Alberta-registered truck and a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team.
An inexperienced truck driver blew through a stop sign and into the path of the bus. Sixteen people were killed and 13 were injured.
The coalition says it supports improved road safety, but Don Shepert of the Alberta Pulse Growers says there is already a shortage of skilled farm workers and the new training rules will make that problem worse.
The Transportation Department, in a statement, says the impact on farm operations will not be onerous.
The department says the changes don't apply to those who already have licences and only applies to drivers who have established residency in Alberta. It also says only about one in five of the 130,000 farm vehicles registered in Alberta will require a commercial licence.
"The government of Alberta is implementing mandatory entry level training to enhance safety for everyone travelling on Alberta's roads," reads the statement.
"Feedback from all stakeholders indicated that there should be no exemptions for any particular industry group."