Humber trucking school setting high standards

Rob Jackson and his fellow trucking instructors take Humber Transportation Training students “pretty much everywhere a truck can fit.” Photo by Nick Westoll. Rob Jackson and his fellow trucking instructors take Humber Transportation Training students “pretty much everywhere a truck can fit.” Photo by Nick Westoll.

Nick Westoll
News Reporter

A recent investigation of truck driver education practices in Ontario has resulted in increased scrutiny of some program operators and could lead to major changes in the industry.

If mandatory training becomes a reality, “we’ll have the best fleet in the industry for training,” Karen Tavener, Humber College’s director of education and training, said as the college’s Transportation Training Centre centre prepares to receive four new, state-of-the-art tractor-trailers later this fall.

The Toronto Star reported last week that 24 unregulated schools were escaping government oversight because they were charging under $1,000, the threshold for businesses to be formally registered with the Ministry of Transportation.

The Star’s investigation also found that several tractor-trailer drivers who went to the Woodbridge DriveTest centre for their road tests were not being tested on 400-series highways.

According to a written statement from Ontario’s Transportation Minister, Steven Del Duca, the Ontario government plans on instituting mandatory training and ministry staff will be reviewing road test procedures at the Woodbridge DriveTest centre.

Humber’s training centre could see additional demand for its program as a result of the recent concerns.  The seven-week tractor-trailer certificate program is the only one of its kind offered at the college level in Toronto.

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation requires that drivers receive 200 hours of training. Humber’s program offers 218 hours. Students receive seven days of in-class training, two days of air brake training and 26 days of in-truck training.

“Pretty much everywhere a truck can fit, we take them.  And every experience we can put them in, we do,” Rob Jackson, a Humber tractor-trailer instructor, said.

Jackson said students receive thorough training on required pre-trip inspections, city roads, highways, downtown driving, uphill starts, odd turns and reversing at a live terminal.

Students also receive daily report cards and are benchmarked on the various elements.

Tavener said drivers have enrolled in the program after taking other programs that only prepared students for the road test. She said some of those students’ previous training lacked a focus on pre-trip inspections, knowledge of the Highway Traffic Act, maintainance of logbooks or how to drive a truck with manual transmission.

The total cost of the program is $8,250. While that is higher than many Toronto-area competitors, the centre boasts an 87 per cent hire rate within three months of graduation.

Angelo Maddalena, 18, is in the second week of the tractor-trailer certificate program. He said he enjoys the freedom of trucking and that, as a driver, he is in charge of his workplace. He said he is supportive of formal education programs such as the one offered by Humber.

“These roads are open. There is so much room for loopholes. We need the best drivers on these roads – we need professionals.”