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More Manitoba drivers fail getting their licence than truck drivers getting theirs: MPI

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More Manitoba drivers fail getting their licence than truck drivers getting theirs: MPI
WATCH: Numbers from MPI show that in 2018, more people testing for their Class 1 licence passed than those testing for Class 5 licences – Feb 28, 2019

Despite anecdotes that some truck drivers try for their Class 1 licence six or eight times before successfully passing, Manitoba Public Insurance says those trying to earn a truck driver’s licence make fewer attempts to do so than those trying to earn their regular Class 5 licence.

Numbers from MPI show that in 2018, there were 4,488 attempts by people to earn their Class 1 licence, and 2,177 of those attempts succeeded, a rate of 49 per cent.

By comparison, in 2018, 58,319 attempts were made to earn a Class 5 licence, and 22,333 of those were successful, a rate of 38 per cent.

“Over a three-year period, our Class 5 customers make an average of 2.16 attempts,” said MPI spokesperson Brian Smiley.

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“Class 1 makes an average of 1.76 attempts.”

The numbers do not reflect people who had to retake their road tests due to medical reasons or for an insurance claim, he added.

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The statistics come in the wake of calls from the Saskatchewan Coroner’s Office Monday to implement mandatory truck driver training across the country, a call that the Manitoba Trucking Association agrees with.

Mandatory minimum training would have meant that the driver of the truck who slammed into the Humboldt Broncos’ bus last winter would not have been on the road.

Currently, there is no mandatory minimum training in Manitoba for those trying to get their Class 1 licence. The province is currently exploring the idea.

The Executive Director of the Manitoba Trucking Association Terry Shaw says it’s something they have been pushing for.

“It cant happen soon enough. It’s something we have been advocating for many years – at least a decade if not longer,” he said.

Shaw says he would like to see 240 hours of training — or six weeks — be the standard before people can take the test.

“We’re not incident-free and there is room for improvement. We have recognized through the Humboldt incident that when these incidents occur, as rare as they are, they’re potentially really massive and traumatic,” he said.

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“We need to reduce the number of these incidents, we need to reduce the severity of these incidents. That will come with greater driver skill sets, which is a function of pre-licensing training.”

Shaw suggested the training requirement can’t come soon enough, as the demand for drivers in the province continues to increase. He said there is already a shortage, with as many as 400 new drivers needed each year.

“Of the 500 specifically listed occupations in Manitoba,” he said, “truck driver has the fifth highest net job openings over the next seven years.”

Jim Campbell from First Class Training Centre says the boost in people trying to get their Class 1 license is due in part to people trying to take the test before stricter rules come into play.

“They’re all coming here trying to get that Class 1 license before that all takes place and that plugs up our system,” he said.

“I’m a firm believer you have to get the proper training. I mean, just rushing in there to get your Class 1 doesn’t mean that you’re a truck driver. It doesn’t mean that you’re a safe driver.”

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