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Saskatchewan farm truckers exempt on new training rule

Drivers of ag trucks will need 'F' endorsement

Saskatchewan semi truck drivers driving only for farming operations will get a pass on the province’s planned new mandatory minimum trucker training requirements.

The province announced Monday it will require a minimum of 121.5 hours of training before a driver can obtain a Class 1 commercial driver’s licence, starting March 15 next year.

A Class 1 licence is currently required for any operators of power units, semi trailers and other vehicles towing a trailer or vehicle where the gross weight of the towed unit exceeds 10,000 lbs. For now, that includes those registered as farm vehicles.

The province has been working to improve standards for training curriculums and testing for semi drivers since mid-2017, Joe Hargrave, the provincial minister responsible for Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI), said in a release.

However, the province added Monday, it “continues to consult” with Saskatchewan’s ag industry on the impacts of possible mandatory training for that sector.

Power units and semis used in farming operations “generally travel less frequently, shorter distances, and through less densely populated areas,” the province said.

For that reason, starting March 15 next year, anyone wishing to drive a semi used in farming operations will instead only need to obtain an “F” endorsement on his or her existing licence. Those drivers will also be restricted to operating within Saskatchewan’s borders, the province said.

To get the “F” endorsement, an eligible driver must be at least 18 years old and not a “novice” driver, an SGI spokesperson said. An “F”-endorsed driver must also submit a report of a medical exam and pass all written and road tests.

Trip inspections — that is, the vehicle inspections required at least once in every 24-hour period in which a commercial truck is in use — will still also be required for “F” endorsed drivers, the spokesperson said.

The “F” endorsement won’t be required for farm semi truck drivers who already have Class 1 licences or have taken the mandatory training. Existing Class 1 drivers will also be grandfathered in when the new training requirement takes effect, the province added.

For new Class 1 semi drivers subject to the mandatory training, the curriculum beyond March 15 will include instruction “in a classroom, in the yard, and behind the wheel,” the province said.

“Priority” curriculum areas are to include basic driving techniques, professional driving habits, vehicle inspections and air brakes, the province said.

“Training schools will receive instruction and training on the new curriculum, and the people who deliver training will be held to higher standards.”

Also starting March 15, Class 1 road tests will be undertaken with SGI examiners only, the province added.

Furthermore, the province said Monday, a 12-month safety monitoring program is now in effect for all new semi drivers, meaning SGI will monitor semi drivers “more stringently” for a year, post-testing, to allow for “remedial action” if safety concerns arise. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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