Category Archives: Getting Your Licence

Should Transportation Start Policing Themselves

Trucking is a serious job! Forty tons of freight on a vehicle that is 75 feet long and bends in the middle is not something to be taken lightly. It takes skill, dedication, and training above other drivers on the road. If you add drugs and alcohol to the mix you are making a bomb that is traveling at 100 kilometres per hour and has the potential to do harm to many at once.

Here we are in the heart of Holiday Season with an increased presence of police enforcement with RIDE Programs and new technology for evaluating impairment putting driver impairment front and centre on the map of safe driving. But is it working?

Recently there have been an increase in driver impairment among truck drivers with alcohol or drugs. The last few reports on this the drivers were not in any type of incident but were found impaired after being stopped for another violation such as a traffic stop or inspection. Why is impairment among truck drivers increasing?

To be fair driver impairment has been in the news more over the last year with cannabis becoming legal over the last couple of years in Canada and the Holiday Season approaching. You would think with the amount of awareness and the increase in monitoring of drivers by carriers that the numbers for impairment would be going the other way, yet they seem to be increasing.

What is the answer to decreasing the trend upwards of impairment among drivers. Is it more information or additional training? Is it breathalyzers in every truck such as they have for those that have been convicted of offences?

Here are a couple of articles talking about impairment issues. https://www.canada.ca/en/services/policing/police/community-safety-policing/impaired-driving/drug-impaired-driving.html and https://madd.ca/pages/impaired-driving/overview/cannabis-and-driving/

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When I talk with other drivers at safety meetings and shows many of them have the same opinion in the fact that drivers know the importance of keeping their licences free of violations and the fact that it can greatly reduce opportunities for their career in the future. If drivers know this then why are we continuing the trend upwards.

I believe common sense needs to be added to training. As an industry we spend a lot of time training drivers for compliance to ensure the carrier can show insurance that they are keeping up on safety, but how many are training based on leadership, professionalism, and common sense decision making. How many carriers included drug and alcohol training in their training over the last year on a regular basis?

As an industry we have to start policing ourselves in a number of areas from impairment to safety to tax evasion. As we get more people involved in the industry from other cultures and Countries where laws may be different we have to enhance those standards that make our industry professional. As an industry we invest a lot of money in technology and equipment but if we can’t help a driver understand the importance of being free of drugs and alcohol and good decision making we will always be a threat to other motorists on the road. Please be safe this Holiday Season and don’t drink or do drugs when about to drive.

About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is an author of the books Driven to Drive and Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast for Truck Drivers. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

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3 Steps to Learning the Truck Inspection Process

Learning how to conduct a truck inspection can be a daunting task when you’re a new student in a truck training school. There are many parts to inspect on a truck or bus and missing just one area can result in fines and downtime for any driver. This is why the inspection process is so important and a reason that every student has to take it seriously.

I recently attended a school to understand their yard work program and what students thought of going through the yard work process. The testing procedures have changed since the implementation of Mandatory Entry Level Training and has become more challenging for the student. Previously the inspection process was taught as a routine that a student would learn and show when testing for their licence. Over the years the testing changed to a random item test where the testing agent will ask the driver to inspect different items on the truck in various orders. The student doesn’t know ahead of time which items will be asked of them therefore having to learn the whole process.

Talking to instructor Jean at the school conducting the training for inspections I asked how the new way of testing has improved the training process? “Students have to learn the full schedule 1 with the new system. Previously the students were taught a routine for inspecting a truck, but due to the time frame in testing were memorizing what to say more than what they were actually inspecting. Because the requests are random students have to know exactly how to inspect an item and not just what to say to the tester.” Says Jean.

Instruction picture

One of the things I noticed when attending the training is that the students going through the program took the instruction very seriously. As a trainer myself I can tell you that not all students understand the importance of training or have the same level of determination. The students going through the inspection schedule, asking questions, and redoing tasks they didn’t understand or do correctly were determined to understand the components fully. Those are the students that will pass successfully but also make professional drivers in the future.

If you are a new student or someone just getting started in the process of looking for a training facility then there a few things you can do to ensure your training is successful:

  • Ensure you are attending a certified training facility. Certified schools have the top instructors that have the knowledge to show you the proper way to inspect items.
  • Participate in the training. Many times the inspection process is taught in a group setting. Don’t just stand on the side lines but be active taking notes, doing tasks, and asking questions.
  • Take your training seriously. Failing to inspect a truck properly can result in fines, delays, or even death. It is important to take your training seriously, review your work, take notes, and ask questions of things you don’t understand.

Truck inspections are required of drivers every day and there are many that don’t do them properly. They are important from a safety standpoint, required from a testing standpoint, and can minimize delays on the road, but only if you know how to do a proper inspection.

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About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is the author of the books Driven to Drive, Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

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Licence Renewal-Patience and Focus are the Key

As a commercial driver you will be required to be retested for renewal of your licence on a regular basis based on your age and the licence classes you have registered. This is usually accompanied by a medical and if you are not successful in passing the tests required your licence will be downgraded from the commercial class to the basic non-commercial driver’s licence. This can be a stressful time if you haven’t taken the time to prepare properly especially if your licence is required for your job.

I recently had to renew my commercial licence and prepared as I have for the last 35 years even when I was driving. I bought the books, reread each chapter, and prepared mentally for the day. Leave lots of time, clear your head, and be focused is what I would get in my mind each year. Many laugh when I say I buy the books each time when I teach most of the elements in those books but it has been part of my routine for a long time and it is how I prepare each time. The reason is more for terminology than the process. There are many phrases and names used on the tests and in the book that we don’t use in the industry on a regular basis. If you use the slang of the industry all the time you may not understand the terminology on the test. With Mandatory Entry Level Testing being implemented since my last testing I thought they may have added some information about the program so buying the books seemed like a good idea.

I felt comfortable going in to the Drive Test Centre to renew the licence. I had left a whole afternoon for the test so that I wasn’t in a hurry and could take my time without thinking I should be somewhere else. My first thought when going to these testing centres is how long will I be there. You take a ticket and wait and in some centres it may take all afternoon just to get in line for the test.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the centre not overly busy and staff organized. I was called right away to begin the process and the staff was helpful and happy. I completed the required vision test and then was told to enter the testing room and take computer number four. Now this is where things changed for me. I have my tractor trailer licence, my coach licence, and my air brake licence so that is three tests that I have to write. The last time I was in to renew my licences I received a two page paper test for each licence class and didn’t realize they had changed over to computers for the testing.

Computer testing

Using the computers wasn’t a problem, but any unexpected change can throw a person off. The rules are the same as you are allowed a certain number of questions wrong in order to pass as they were in the past. The questions weren’t overly tough but I find you really had to pay attention to what they were asking. The multiple choice questions are designed to throw you off and I did get one wrong because the number I saw was for something else as I didn’t read the question close enough. The questions are delivered randomly and are the same over multiple tests of similar classes. When I thought I was answering questions about the coach I had answered that same question previously in the tractor trailer test. You never really knew which test you were on, but other than that the process was easy enough.

If you are wondering how I did I can tell you I passed all the tests. If I can offer a piece of advice for anyone taking the tests is to have patience and take your time focusing on each question. Once you have selected an answer you can’t go back and correct it. Patience and focus are the key!

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About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is the author of the books Driven to Drive, Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

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