Author: Jill McBeth
Date: April 28, 2024

MELT & Carrier required training

The Humboldt incident, which tragically highlighted the need for better driver training in the operation of commercial vehicles, prompted Alberta Transportation and other jurisdictions to introduce MELT (Mandatory Entry Level Training) to bridge this knowledge gap. MELT, as the name suggests, is entry-level training aimed at equipping individuals new to the field with essential skills, knowledge, and competencies necessary for safe and competent driving. This crucial training encompasses formal instruction, on-road training, mentoring, and assessments, laying the foundation for growth and development behind the wheel.

Most individuals undergo driver education in high school and then gradually build experience by driving. Most new drivers did not get a class 5 go home and hook up a trailer and drive in the mountains the next day. It is the same thing for MELT, it is entry level, why is it okay for a MELT driver to graduate and the next day load up a set of super B’s and go trucking? It isn’t and that is the carrier training component of AR314/2002 Section 41(1)(h)(i). to provide ongoing training related to vehicle operation and compliance with safety laws even after a driver has completed MELT.

Recognizing that experience plays a vital role in ensuring safe driving practices, Alberta Transportation is set to roll out an apprenticeship program starting in 2026. This program aims to transition drivers from entry-level to experienced while being closely monitored, akin to how pilots accumulate hundreds of flight hours before flying passengers. This underscores the importance of hands-on experience and continuous learning to mitigate risks and enhance safety standards in the commercial driving sector.

What do we do until 2026? Train the drivers!

What are the regulatory requirements for carrier driver training?

A Carrier Safety program in regards to driver training; According to section 40(1) of the Alberta Commercial Vehicle Certificate and Insurance Regulation (AR314/2002), a carrier must create policies that discuss these subjects in their safety program:

  • Policies related to driver training, responsibilities, conduct and discipline;
  • Instructions for the use of safety equipment including things such as fire extinguishers, goggles, safety glasses and hard hats and
  • Training for employees about safety laws and their application and an ongoing program for evaluating their driving skills;

Carriers are required by law to make sure all employees are trained in and knowledgeable of all applicable safety laws: Traffic Safety Act - including, but not limited to those related to: Hours of Service, Cargo Securement, Rules of the Road, Use of Safety Equipment, Weights and Dimensions, Vehicle Maintenance and DVIR and Record Keeping.

Carrier Orientation and Training:

Carriers must also choose the ways they will inform all new employees about the company’s policies and procedures. They may also provide training to ensure the effective and safe operations of their commercial vehicles. Carriers may develop and deliver suitable training material within their own company or they may use public training courses. They may also hire a consultant to provide customized training, or they may use a combination of these options to train their employees.

Can I train drivers in house? This is the guidance from Alberta Transportation to auditors;

Answer yes if, There is a record of all related training on file (e.g. tests, certificates, course attendance lists, certificate of completion or list of all training completed), including training identified in the carrier’s Safety Program. It is expected that a driver receives training (such as: hours of service, trip inspection, load securement, weights and dimensions, DG as applicable, etc.) in all areas with respect to the operation of a commercial vehicle, if applicable. It is acceptable if this information is contained in a separate “training” file, computer or other system viewable by the User provided the carrier could easily produce training information for an individual driver verifying that applicable training was taken. Also answer “Yes” if evidence is found that drivers have been adequately instructed by their previous employer, then evaluated and accepted by their current employer. A written record of the evaluation must be present. User may accept any training that the carrier can demonstrate is adequate for their drivers given the type of job, vehicle, etc. that the employees operate. Alberta Transportation’s Education Manual was not created or intended to be used as formal training.

Can I use the Alberta Transportation Education Manual?

No, Education Manual disclaimer:

The material in this document is not intended to represent a full training course in any subject area covered. However, it may form part of a carrier’s larger training program. The reader is invited to reproduce all or part of this document, however, at no time should the information contained here be altered in any way nor used in a manner that would change the intended meaning of the material or its accuracy.

What records do I need to document driver training?

This is the guidance from Alberta Transportation to auditors: Does the carrier instruct drivers for: Hours of Service; Trip inspection; load securement; applicable safety law requirements; have an ongoing eval of driving skills?

Regulation: AR314/2002 Section 40 (1)(c) & (e).

Carrier has a written policy and any applicable training materials (may include evidence of instruction or examination from an external source/provider) clearly specifying the training required for drivers and an ongoing program for evaluating driving skills. Examples of training material that would be acceptable include tests, course materials and instructional videos. User may accept any written training policy that the carrier says they feel is adequate for their drivers given the type of job/ vehicle the employee operates. User should comment if they feel the training material is poor or requires updating. An example of what would be expected in order to be answered yes might include: The carrier’s program states “All drivers will be trained in Federal hours of service, trip inspections, load securement (commodity specific), weights/dimensions and must successfully pass a road test with the Safety Officer prior to being authorized to drive an NSC vehicle. Each driver will be required to re-certify in the vehicle every 24 months and pass a driver qualification review every 12 months.” For the purposes of answering this question only, actual proof of training is not required to answer “yes”; it must be in their program and, if it is, there should be training material available to support this. User may ask the carrier to see this material if it is not readily available. This question is asking what is the carrier doing with their drivers AFTER they have hired them and authorized them to drive in the first place (i.e. we don’t want a carrier hiring a driver and then never check up on them for as long as they work there). There is no measurement of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable, only does the carrier have a program in place to actually check on their drivers periodically to ensure they are still good drivers. This can be nearly anything, but it must still be reasonable.

Driver training is a endeavor that demands ongoing commitment and diligence from carriers to uphold standards and promote the professional development of drivers. By adhering to regulatory guidelines, implementing comprehensive training programs, and embracing the value of experience, carriers can avoid penalties as a result of an audit or investigation. Untrained drivers expose a carrier to increased liability in a serious on road incident.