Education and training to combat distracted driving could be part of the national, mandatory entry level training (MELT) standard – a key recommendation in the Canadian Trucking Alliance’s 10-point Action Plan to improve truck safety and compliance.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced in January that Transport Canada and the provinces would work toward creating a national MELT standard by 2020 – a central plank in CTA’s proposed action plan released in the aftermath of the Humboldt truck-bus tragedy. This week the government appeared to recognize yet another key CTA recommendation by releasing a request for proposal (RFP) that would see the development of a commercial driver distracted driving training module that could be used by all provinces for inclusion in their local MELT standards.

“Distracted driving is a growing problem on our roadways and risks the safety of every type of driver,” said CTA president Stephen Laskowski. “CTA is applauding Minister Garneau and Transport Canada for taking action on this important issue.

“The majority of fleets in Canada have distracted driver training and monitoring policies in place to mitigate the negative effects of distracted driving. However, this development will provide the provinces with a potential distracted driver MELT module that would ensure all new entrants coming into our sector understand the safety consequences of distracted driving behaviour.”

According to information published by the Government of Canada, the goal of this project is to develop commercial vehicle driver training material aimed at addressing driver distraction as well as fleet management guidelines to help motor carriers mitigate distracted driving. The material is expected to take form as “modules accompanied by written documentation to support training.” The RFP also includes guidance that the contractor selected to work with Transport Canada on this project needs to be familiar with the MELT process and be prepared to develop a distracted driver training module that is compatible.

The selected contractor will be given two years to develop the module from start to finish. The stages of this development will include:

  • A conceptual approach by processing the Addressing Human Factors in the Motor Carrier Industry in Canada report and conducting a review of more recent literature on these issues;
  • A list of topics that, from a scientific perspective, should be part of driver training and fleet management guidelines to address driver distraction in the motor carrier industry;
  • Sampled and assessments of current Canadian commercial vehicle driver training programs as well as existing fleet management guidelines related to driver distraction in order to identify gaps in existing material;
  • Development and beta tests of driver training material and fleet management guidelines on the basis of scientific driver behaviour and driver education models;
  • A strategy to promote and disseminate this material to achieve maximum penetration in the Canadian motor carrier industry. It is expected that Transport Canada will subsequently execute this strategy.
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