Saskatoon

Training for new semi drivers now mandatory in Sask

New semi drivers in Saskatchewan will now have to take a training course before hitting the highway.

New drivers will be required to take a minimum 121-hour course

Semi drivers in Saskatchewan will now be required to take a training course of at least 121 hours. (Jeff McIntos/Canadian Press)

New semi drivers in Saskatchewan will now have to take a training course before hitting the highway.

Under the new Saskatchewan Government Insurance rules, prospective drivers will have to undergo a minimum of 121 hours of training before taking the driver's test. That includes a minimum of 47 classroom hours, 17 hours driving in the yard and 57 hours behind the wheel.

Farmers will be exempt from the training as long as they can pass the test and don't travel outside the province.

The changes come nearly one year after 16 people died and 13 more were injured when the Humboldt Broncos bus crashed into a semi that had not stopped at a stop sign.

Broncos athletic therapist Dayna Brons was one of those killed. Her parents, Lyle and Carol Brons, say the mandatory training rules are a good start.

"I'm glad to see that things are getting going, that there's changes being made. Make it a little tougher for guys to just get on the road and go," Lyle Brons said in an interview.

Both Carol and Lyle Brons said much more is needed. They want the farm exemption scrapped. They're also supporting a petition started by Alberta widow Pattie Fair, whose husband Steven Babij was killed in a collision with a semi two years ago this week.

Carol and Lyle Brons have fought for to have semi driver training made mandatory. The changes were made nearly one year ago. Their daughter, Dayna, was one of 16 people killed in the Humboldt Broncos crash. (Don Somers/CBC)

More than 4,000 people have signed the petition. It demands mandatory nationwide training, which is scheduled to be in place next year. It also calls for a graduated licensing program, as there is for motorcycle drivers. At the moment, a licence allows drivers to immediately operate semis of unlimited size.

The Brons and others supporting the petition also want trucking to be designated a trade, which would allow students to be eligible for government financial assistance.

Carol Brons said it's been a difficult year for her family. She said it's difficult to think about these issues, but she believes the changes could save lives.

"Yes, I understand it's not going to be an easy road but we have to start somewhere, and this is where we've chosen to start," she said.

An SGI official said in an email they agree students should be eligible for financial assistance and that the farm exemption is still being studied.

"Those consultations are just concluding and any possible changes would be announced in the near future," stated the email.

Saskatchewan and Alberta are both making training mandatory this spring, joining Ontario.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jason Warick

Reporter

Jason Warick is a reporter with CBC Saskatoon.

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