REGINA — Saskatchewan is expanding mandatory training for semi-truck drivers to include farmers.
The government introduced 122-hour compulsory training for commercial truck drivers in March, but gave a temporary exemption to farmers who drive semis as part of their businesses.
Thirty-three farmers have used the exemption to date, a government spokeswoman said Wednesday.
Training requirements for agriculture workers are to be phased in beginning next year. The goal is to have all programs aligned by 2021.
Joe Hargrave, minister for Saskatchewan Government Insurance, said trucks driven by farmers tend to be on the road less than commercial trucks and use less-travelled highways.
The government insurer reports that over the last three years, half the trucks registered in the province belonged to farmers, but they have been involved in fewer collisions than commercial trucks.
In an email to The Canadian Press, SGI spokesman Tyler McMurchy said an average of 1,189 collisions involving trucks occurred from 2010 to 2017. Saskatchewan-registered commercial semis were involved in an average of 664 a year, while farm-plated semis factored in 86.
Despite those numbers, the majority of farmers the government consulted supported mandatory training, Hargrave said.
“They know that our roads in Saskatchewan need to be safe,” he said.
“Especially after that tragedy of the Humboldt crash … While we were working on it before then, it really drove it home to everyone —this is necessary. Mandatory training is necessary.”
Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba introduced compulsory truck-driver training after the Broncos crash in April 2018.
Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, an inexperienced truck driver from Calgary, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving after blowing through a stop sign at a rural intersection and running directly into the path of the hockey team’s bus.
Sixteen people died and 13 were injured.
“Anybody that I personally talked to and anybody that we consulted with, it affected all their thoughts,” Hargrave said.
Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press