The provincial government, with consultation from representatives of the commercial transport industry and members of the public, is exploring ways to ensure all drivers are properly trained and tested in an attempt to improve road safety in Alberta and outside the province.

Brian Mason, Alberta’s Minister of Transportation, says April’s crash in Saskatchewan involving the Humboldt Broncos’ team bus and a semi tractor-trailer, a collision that claimed 16 lives, placed impetus on revamping the industry’s regulations.

“The terrible tragedy has focused everyone on the need to do even more to make sure our highways and our trucking system are as safe as possible,” said Mason. “We were already reviewing the training licencing and permitting of commercial carriers. The Humboldt disaster really underlined the urgency of getting this work done.”

Calgarian Jaskirat Sidhu, the driver of the transport truck, faces 29 charges in connection with the fatal April 6 crash at the intersection of two highways near Tisdale, Saskatchewan.

In the days following the collision, Sukhmander Singh, the owner of Adesh Deol Trucking Ltd., confirmed to CTV Calgary that the driver had been with the company for about a month, had only been driving solo trips for approximately two weeks and was a recent graduate of a 15-day training course.

On Tuesday, Mason announced the following three initiatives designed to enhance safety:

  • Mandatory entry-level training for commercial drivers seeking a Class 1(tractor trailer), Class 2 (bus) or Class 2 with an ‘S’ endorsement (school bus) licence
  • Pre-entry requirement for new commercial carriers to prove compliance with federal transportation safety regulations and the removal of the 60-day grace period where companies could operate before proving compliance
  • Modifying road test models for all classes of drivers, addressing industry issues and exploring the possibility of reinstating of system where driver examiners are government employees.

“We take this very seriously,” said Mason. “We think that there are important initiatives here in terms of the education of drivers, the regulation of the industry and improvements in how we do driver testing. All three of those are critical pieces to ensure that we keep our roads safe for the public and ensure people who work in the industry meet the highest standards of public safety.”

Mason says the plans to improve training and testing within the commercial transport industry have been strongly supported by the industry.

“Our next step is to consult with Albertans and with stakeholders around the implementation of these changes. We intend to implement (these) changes effective the beginning of next year.”

With files from CTV’s Jordan Kanygin