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Falkland, B.C. woman pushes for better training after trucking tragedy

Click to play video 'B.C. trucking tragedy leads to push for better training' B.C. trucking tragedy leads to push for better training
Watch Above: A B.C. woman is speaking out about the need for better training for truck drivers after her husband was killed in a collision with a tractor-trailer. – Apr 30, 2018

A year after her husband was killed in a collision with a tractor-trailer, a Falkland, B.C. woman is speaking out about the need for better training for truck drivers.

The province says the licensing system is already robust. However, there is no mandatory training criteria for new truck drivers.

It’s been just over a year since police came to tell Pattie Babij that her husband Steve was dead.

READ MORE: Falkland man killed in Trans-Canada crash

The 51-year-old commercial driver was killed in a head-on collision with another tractor-trailer which crossed the centre line of the Trans-Canada Highway near Revelstoke in March 2017.

51-year-old Stephen Babij of Falkland and his dog Zak were killed in a collision on the Trans-Canada Highway on Monday.
51-year-old Stephen Babij of Falkland and his dog Zak were killed in a collision on the Trans-Canada Highway on Monday. Memoryleaf.net / Babij Family

A coroner’s report said it was “not determined” why the other truck had crossed into Babij’s lane.

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The other truck driver was charged under the Motor Vehicle Act with driving without due care and attention.

In the wake of the tragedy, Pattie Babij has become an outspoken advocate for more training for truck drivers.

“My husband used to complain about it all the time. He would get to the brake checks and say drivers didn’t know to set up their brakes,” she said on Monday.

Among other things, she’d like to see truck driving treated more like a trade with an apprenticeship program. Babij believes that would help prevent further tragedies.

“This needs to stop. This is Canada. We are supposed to feel safe on our roads. We have the resources.”

Babij feels change is needed not just for the sake of other drivers, but also for truckers themselves.

READ MORE: Only Ontario requires truck driver training, but Humboldt crash could change that

“They need to be adequately trained. They are looking for a job. Some of them are desperately looking for a job and they put themselves in situations they shouldn’t be,” she said.

Babij is not alone in thinking more training is needed. The BC Trucking Association said it has been advocating for mandatory entry-level training for years.

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“Our members are fully and completely committed to making sure that our highways are as safe as possible and they do believe that increased safety standards will help us get to that point,” said Dave Earle, president of the BC Trucking Association.

“Currently, in British Columbia, there is no mandatory entry-level training criteria for anyone to become a Class 1 operator of heavy duty vehicles. There is a requirement, of course, to go through some level of training and to write an air brake certification component if required. But there are no mandatory curriculum nor hours.”

In a statement, the province said it’s “always prepared to listen to suggestions to make our roads safer,” but that “obtaining a Class 1 commercial driver’s licence in British Columbia already requires robust training and testing.”