'It's out of control': Humboldt Broncos crash spurs calls for mandatory semi driver training

Trucking industry regulations are a 'joke' and need to change before more people die, according to some drivers.

Training would deter 'rogue' trucking companies, says Canadian Trucking Association president

The wreckage of a fatal crash outside of Tisdale, Sask., is seen Saturday, April, 7. A bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team en route to Nipawin for a game Friday night collided with a semi-trailer, killing 16 and injuring 13 others. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Trucking industry regulations are a "joke" and need to change before more people die, according to some drivers.

"It's out of control. I really can't describe it, because I'm so frustrated about what is going on in this industry. It's gotta stop," veteran Humboldt truck driver Kim Wylie said.

Wylie and others are speaking out after 16 people died and 13 were seriously injured in a collision last Friday between the Humboldt Broncos team bus and a semi-trailer.

"This has been an issue, but (the crash) pushed us to say things need to change," said fellow driver Shaun Souster, co-creator of the Facebook group 306 Pavement Pounders.

Wylie, Souster and others say their criticisms are aimed at the industry and regulators, not the driver or company involved in the Humboldt crash. RCMP are investigating, but have not publicly discussed the cause of the crash.

In a Saskatoon towing company lot this week, police inspected the semi truck involved in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash. (Jason Warick)

The semi-driver, who was not seriously injured, was hauling a double trailer, or "train," full of bagged peat moss.

According to reports, the Calgary-based driver had been on the job for one month, which included a couple of weeks of training. The company, Adesh Deol Trucking Ltd. was not a member of the Alberta Motor Transport Association, said AMTA President Chris Nash.

Wylie and other drivers say they took lengthy training courses and gradually worked their way up over a period of months to hauling long, heavy loads. Many companies pair rookie drivers with veterans, they said. They also limit the size of the loads and the distance of the trip until the driver seems ready to handle more.

But that's not the case with many new drivers, and the "rogue" companies who send them out, they said.

'Standards are a joke'

In most provinces, including Saskatchewan and Alberta, the only requirement to drive a semi-trailer is passing written and road exams.

Wylie and Souster say there are more rules applied to driving a motorcycle than a 60,000-kilogram semi-trailer.

Canadian Trucking Alliance president Steven Laskowski agrees.

The Alliance represents trucking companies across the country. Laskowski said training should be made mandatory. Last year, Ontario became the first province to do so. Truckers there must take 103 hours of training before they get licensed.

That would help stop rogue operators, Laskowski said.

"It just raises the bar with regards to public safety. As an industry, we share the road with the public. Safety is No. 1," Laskowski said.

Regina trucker Mike Paska said the Humboldt crash should serve as a wake-up call for everyone involved.

'Keep on studying'

"This industry and its standards are a joke," Paska wrote. "I hope this tragedy is the foundation of turning this industry around, because in my opinion, it needs a complete overhaul."

A Saskatchewan Government Insurance official said in an email it strongly recommends drivers attend one of the certified training schools, but it's not mandatory.

SGI is talking to industry representatives about strengthening the training requirements, said the official.

Aside from the road test, drivers must achieve a mark of 80 per cent on tests which include an eye exam, recognition of road signs and a multiple choice test about professional driving guidelines, according to SGI's website.

The website says if a candidate fails any of the written portions, "You can schedule another test as soon as the following day. Keep on studying."

About the Author

Jason Warick


Jason Warick is a reporter with CBC Saskatoon.