Ric McIver said Friday that, after speaking with Humboldt Broncos families, the Alberta government would add a two-year safe-driving probation period for nearly 7,000 drivers who got their Class 1 or 2 driver’s licence before the new training requirement was announced.
On Friday, the transportation minister sent out a series of messages on Twitter, saying he had met with families of the Humboldt Broncos and had a “respectful and constructive conversation about road safety.”
He said, after hearing their concerns, “we are exploring ways to hold these 6,800 drivers to a zero-tolerance safety standard with a probationary period.”
McIver explained drivers would be placed on a two-year probation in addition to the requirement of having clean driving record. If they receive an infraction of any kind during that time, they’ll have to retest under MELT (mandatory entry-level training).
Sixteen people were killed and 13 were injured when an inexperienced Calgary truck driver ran a stop sign and barrelled into the path of the junior hockey team’s bus in Saskatchewan in April 2018. Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba implemented mandatory training for truck and bus drivers after the collision.
McIver also stressed that no drivers will be permanently exempt from the new training standards.
In an op-ed posted in Alberta Post Media newspapers Oct. 17, McIver said “neither farmers nor school bus drivers will be permanently exempted.”
He said the province would work with drivers to “ensure an orderly transition to the new training requirement.”
On Oct. 10, he told Global News that “a comparatively small number of individuals passed their Class 1 or 2 driver’s licence before the MELT requirement came into effect (but after the intention of MELT was announced),” McIver said in a email. “These drivers played by the rules as they stood at the time. To be clear, MELT training was not even available for these select drivers at the time they passed their exam.”
McIver said those drivers were being treated the same as the “170,000 Class 1 or 2 drivers that the previous NDP government grandfathered.”
“Officials are reviewing driving records of those select individuals,” McIver said. “Drivers without a clean driving record will need to retest under the new MELT road and knowledge test.”
In Thursday’s op-ed, he said he fully supports MELT and agrees it’s the right step to make roads safer.
“The new training requirements are here to stay for all new Class 1 and 2 drivers,” he wrote. “Our government will work with truck drivers, including farmers and school bus drivers, to make sure the transition is smooth.
“Safety is and will always be my top priority.”