By Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure
People working in the trucking industry across our province are at the heart of our economy. That’s never been truer than over the past year and a half as we manage our way through the COVID-19 pandemic. Commercial drivers have delivered essential goods, food and medicine in a time that has required tremendous resiliency. They deserve, and have, our sincere thanks for their continued work that is helping to support families and communities in B.C.
Our deep commitment to making B.C. highways safer is why we developed the new Mandatory Entry Level Training (MELT) curriculum, which takes effect October 18th. With the new framework, B.C. will be joining several other provinces in elevating the profession of commercial truck driving. MELT will result in better-trained new drivers entering the commercial truck driving industry and overall improved road safety. While supporting the existing great work already being done within the industry, delivering the new MELT program will create a more consistent minimum standard for training new truck operators.
The commercial trucking industry has been a critical partner in this process. The BC Trucking Association, the driver training industry and other trucking industry representatives have advocated for better entry-level commercial driver training for years. Consultation with the trucking and driver training industries, beginning in 2019, provided valuable input to ensure that B.C.’s MELT program would reflect the needs of drivers in the province.
We know that B.C.’s challenging geography means drivers sometimes find themselves navigating a wide range of conditions on our roads, especially during the winter months. MELT delivers a program that will give new drivers the confidence to operate commercial vehicles in B.C.’s challenging topography and changing regional climates. We incorporated best practices from other jurisdictions across Canada so that our program will exceed National requirements. In fact, the B.C. Class 1 MELT course requires new drivers to complete more on-highway driving hours and in-yard practical training than the National Safety Code 16 standard. B.C.’s MELT is also harmonized with others across Canada, ensuring drivers can travel between provinces.
The tragic crash involving the Humboldt Broncos team bus and a commercial vehicle is a stark and painful reminder that we must never be complacent when it comes to road safety. We believe the introduction of MELT will be viewed as one of the most significant steps we’ve taken to keep our roads safe. Commercial drivers and all other motorists deserve nothing less.